My Boyfriend Was a Drug-Dealer
He was exciting; he liked my musical tastes; he listened to me when I talked. That’s pretty much all I needed to know: I had to have him.
January 29, 2014 | Sweat | February 2014
I think after all of these years, the part that I remember most clearly is the fact that he didn’t even have the decency to get a bed.
What he had instead was a futon mattress laying on the floor, upon which dust balls would find their way, sticking to the corners. Whenever he’d have “visitors”, he would fold up this mattress, resting half of it against the wall, building a makeshift couch.
Why? Because he dealt drugs out of the attic. And the door to the attic was in his bedroom.
I didn’t wake up one morning, at 15 years old, and think that going out with a drug dealer was a great idea. It crept up on me, as I was a naïve and unaware kid.
Four years my senior, I met him while we were baking pizzas in a small shop in the suburbs. He was exciting; he liked my musical tastes; he listened to me when I talked. That’s pretty much all I needed to know: I had to have him.
It wasn’t hard. When his longterm girlfriend broke things off with him because he was too possessive and volatile, I took my chance.
I should’ve really thought long and hard about the “possessive” and “volatile” thing.
But I didn’t, and there he was: A boyfriend with a car, tattoos, and a penchant for weed.
Reading that, I can’t believe how cliché it all seems. And I guess it was; textbook smart-nerdy-girl gets seduced by the “dark” side. But it’s not like that, not when you’re in it. What I saw was a sweet guy, in touch with his emotions, trying to kick a bad habit. That’s what I chose to see, so that’s what I saw.
The troubles started when he got his own apartment. Either out of a need to pay rent, or because freedom made him feel invincible, he got it in his mind that there wasn’t anything wrong with dealing on the side. Fuck the police, you know?
The worst thing about dating a drug dealer are the phone calls, closely followed by the impromptu visits. I learned to hate that ringtone, and dread the sound of approaching footsteps on wooden stairways.
I can’t count the number of times anything we did got interrupted by a druggie looking for his fix. Eating supper? Not anymore. Winning at Mario Kart? Sorry, better luck next time. Having sex? Hold on a sec, it won’t take long.
The power dynamics in that relationship were so screwed up, I felt like I didn’t have a right to voice my worries. So I took to writing. I wrote him countless letters, explaining how wrong I thought this whole thing was under many angles. I tried the “I couldn’t handle it if you went to jail” angle, as well as the “I hate your asshole friends” angle.
I never gave him any of them.
The breaking point happened on a hot day in July.
We were laying on his dusty folded up futon, the ceiling fan blowing hair in my face. It was one of our good days; quiet, silence enveloping us, comfortable. I think we were talking about our feelings for each other, something we hardly ever did. Then that dreaded ringtone sounded, closely followed by the sound of a car engine in the driveway. I closed my eyes, and I clearly remembered thinking how sleazy his friends were for giving him a two-second warning with that phone call. He got up as we heard the footsteps, and as he ushered them through the room, I looked up from my unmoved position on the futon. They all stared at me, guilty looks in their eyes, and sheepish “hi”s and “hello”s as they filed in, one by one, on their way to the attic.
As I heard them weighing and measuring upstairs, I covered my eyes with the blanket and tried to still the anger flooding my muscles, tensing up my jaw.
I didn’t even have to say anything after the guys had left. He read it on my face, and did all of the talking. About how sorry he was, how he wanted to end it, how he never should’ve started in the first place. Without saying a word, I think it was one of the only nights in our entire relationship where I held my own.
A few days later, out of what I imagine was a sense of guilt, he asked me if I wanted to take a trip to the nearest big city. I wasn’t fooled, and I proceeded to make him spend all of the drug money he had saved up.
I don’t think he ever forgave me.
But that’s ok. I don’t think I ever forgave him, either.
Illustrations by Laura Caseley and Esme Blegvad.