Our trip to Europe was life-changing.

A huge thing had happened to me and I was successfully dealing with it by myself, by erasing it from my mind. It was just not there. It’s amazing what the brain can do for us when we need it to.

My sister and I entered the public school system of the European country we had moved to. We were placed in an immersion program with other students who did not speak the language. We had three hours of language a day, then we went off to participate in other classes. In the early days, I had no idea what was being said. Immersion classes are an effective way to teach a language, though, and within six months I was fluent and was even dreaming in my new language.

One day we heard about a huge rock concert that was happening in a public place. This was an Olympic training venue with ski jumps and large open places that when not winter, were nice parks. I talked my sister into going, because I had no close friends, yet.

It’s exciting attending a rock concert for the first time. Public transportation being what it is in Europe, moving around large cosmopolitan cities is pretty easy. We could go by ourselves. By this time I was 16 and my sister was probably about to turn 14. There were tons and tons of young people, most of them older than us. People had brought blankets and picnic baskets—it was a day concert featuring many bands.

And then, amidst all the thousands of people there, I saw a gal who I recognized from our street in our little suburb of this capital city in Europe. This gal was older than me, probably in her late teens or maybe even early twenties. She was super pretty, and I admired her. She was sitting on a blanket with a guy who was probably her boyfriend. They were sitting there and I saw her bring out a spoon and a lighter and start cooking some drug. I couldn’t believe it! I tried to put it together in my head. How could this super pretty girl be doing drugs? Why would she be doing drugs?

I had never done drugs (except using dramamine within my family’s purview) and I was not particularly clued into the widespread use of drugs at home or abroad. But I was struck by what I saw and I never forgot the shock of seeing her cooking drugs in a spoon. I thought drugs were for losers. How could this pretty, older girl who I kind of had a crush on be doing drugs?

It stuck with me.








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