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It took coming home from school one Monday night to find two of my housemates sifting through a pure block of cocaine for me to realize I was living in a trap house. While this was certainly a shock to see — it’s not everyday that I see an intact brick of Schedule II drugs worth several thousand dollars on the same table that I ate chicken nuggets on the night before — it wasn’t surprising based on what had been going on in that house.

One of my housemates had been dealing marijuana for as long as I remember knowing him. I met him in the in the dorms freshman year, and it seemed like he was always around our hall despite living upstairs. I am not going to give out any names, so we’ll call him Mike. When we moved into the house at the beginning of sophomore year, one of our new hallmates, call him Jerry, began selling with him. The third housemate, I will call Randy, and I mostly kept our heads out of it unless we were asked to help out on a busy night or if Mike and Jerry weren’t going to be home to make a transaction. I didn’t think too much of it at first, but then the drug pool began to expand. At first it was just Xanax and shrooms. Nothing too major. Then came the molly. I wasn’t quite surprised yet.

Then came the cocaine.

Why that brick of cocaine stuck out and shook me after all of that, I’m not sure. Before that point, I thought nothing of my friends’ escapades. They were some of the closest friends I had made at UCR up to that point, and they had been instrumental in not only teaching me the ins and outs out of the drug world, but the world of modern culture as a whole. I didn’t get to enjoy any of my high school experience in part due to some illnesses and I was about as asocial as a bear in winter. These were the guys that helped me break out of that, so I truly trusted them.

Things changed after the cocaine started filtering out of our house. More and more, I noticed that fewer of the people who would come to the house to pick up looked like students. Many of them were too old to still be in school, and others were covered with tattoos that made you think twice about them. Safety became an issue that I began to think about way too much, not only from those who came to buy, but from the police as well. I would think, “There’s no telling when someone will break our doors down and take us out.” While I wasn’t spending money or profiting off these sales, I had no doubt in my mind that I would be seen as an accomplice because I had at some point been the middle man and I was in the room next to Mike’s, where the safe was kept. Things seemed to proceed as normal for a while, but I was never really settled after that. Then the theft happened.

I had come down with mono the week before and was trying to just survive the last half of the quarter, so I was sleeping when the incident and the main fighting occurred. From what I could gather, Randy had stolen pills from Mike and Jerry’s stash and had dealt them out to friends for cheap. The entire house was metaphorically fractured. Randy and Jerry, who had been friends living in the same city before coming to UCR, stopped talking to each other. The two wouldn’t even look at Randy anymore, and with good reason. But he hadn’t slighted me, and after a long talk with him, I decided to remain his friend. I thought it would help defuse some of the tension, and I thought it was the right thing to do as a friend. Mike and Jerry eventually accepted Randy’s apology after he repaid the value of what he had stolen. Yet, no matter how little resentment I had against him for the theft, the fact that he did it lingered in the back of my mind and rocketed my level of paranoia.

Eventually, the stress was too much for my mind and walking to school with mono was too much for my body to handle, and I ended up going into liver failure. I was able to get permission to finish the last two weeks of school at home, but I didn’t have the energy to be happy about it at that point. Despite all of the laughter and parties that took place between those two walls, the stress that had piled up from my time there made all of that somewhat obsolete. Overall, it was a ride that ended up getting a little too wild. That’s the reality of living in a trap house.