Berkeley, 1976

Berkeley, 1976

My future husband, David, and I drove for 2 days from El Paso, TX, to start our new life in California. Finally, we pulled up in front of my brother Brad’s house in Berkeley. It was on a quiet residential street with one or two large trees in front of each house.  His house was a two storied brick building with fake wood shutters next to the windows, but I couldn’t make out much detail because it was already dark.


We dragged ourselves up a short flight of stairs to the front door. Walking inside, I saw a large living room full of mismatched furniture and paisley sheets covering the windows. I had to smile; our mother, an interior designer, would have had a heart attack.


We weren’t too interested in the house or its decor, though. Our main concern – well, David’s main concern – was that he had smoked up his stash of weed during our long, boring drive from TX. We didn’t know anyone locally except my brother and I didn’t know his opinion about pot. But this was Berkeley; he’d be able to buy some weed somewhere.


So when Brad told us to come on back to the kitchen, we weren’t looking for a cozy family chat with a nice cup of tea. I was just trying to think of an excuse for us to bail out on him as soon as possible.  


We followed him through the living room into a bright yellow and white kitchen with large windows. It was somewhat cluttered, but relatively clean. Various dishes and utensils were stacked in the sink from a recently eaten meal. One cupboard with a glass door held an impressive collection of coffee mugs with different colors and designs. Below that was a coffee maker and a 3 lb can of Yuban coffee that instantly called to me.


Over to one side of the kitchen, next to a wide window that looked out onto the backyard was a big wooden table with 6 chairs around it. Gathered around the table were 3 or 4 of my brother’s friends, carefully breaking down a kilo of marijuana into 1 ounce baggies.


“So,” Brad said, “you wanna beer?”


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