To celebrate the arrival of the new year, Grace and I went to the south coast with our friend Pete. We stayed only a short walk from the beach, in a house that belonged to Andrew, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who had flown home for the holidays.
That winter, after Betse and I discovered we were infertile, I became fascinated by pearls. My passion for them resembled an addiction, though I hesitate to call it that. There was a ritual aspect to it, a heady anticipation, an urgency I didn’t always understand.
I was a daily drinker, a frequent opium user, and a bona fide cocaine addict. I was a devotee of Demerol and a dabbler in Darvocet. I was a Percodan-pursuing, Seconal-seeking, codeine-consuming, 100 percent, fully certifiable, equal-opportunity substance abuser.