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Peru Saved Me

Peru Saved Me

Hello and good day!

My guidance counselor in college, Jeremy, genuinely liked me.

He liked that I was an honor student. He liked that my professors told him I had a great work ethic.

We laughed and had lively conversations when we were together, usually after he had given me a soft, obligatory reprimand for my bad behavior.

My apparent upside potential made my constant drunkenness very baffling for Jeremy.

His warm feelings for me disappeared the day he called me into his office to expel me from the university.

As soon as I walked into his little office, he snapped at me.

"Sit down right now Adam," he said.

I knew that my punishment would be severe.

The police had pulled me out of Spanish class the day before to grill me. They let me off with a warning because I hadn't broken any laws, even though I had participated in something very objectionable.

One of the other guys with us that night ended up in jail for breaking and entering.

Jeremy slapped a beige folder filled with my paperwork down on his desk.

He was seething. He stared at me, breathing hard, trying to compose himself. But he couldn't, and his anger got the best of him.

Sometimes when a person can't control their anger, it barrels out, and they fly into an intense rage. That's what happened with Jeremy.

He slammed his fist as hard as he could on his wooden desk. Everything on the desk jumped.

"Look at your file! Look at it! It's fifteen times thicker than anybody else's! What is wrong with you Adam!"

He was yelling at the top of his lungs. Something had sprung loose inside of him, and he was out of control. He took a deep breath in through his nose, but it didn't calm him.

"You're gone Adam. Gone! I want you out of here today!"

I leaned with my forearms on my thighs and looked down at the ground. I deserved what was happening.

After a long silence, I looked up.

"Is there anything I can do to get back in?" I asked in a meek and apologetic way.

He had managed to cool off a bit now.

"You'll have to go to rehab. The only way back in for you is with a certificate saying that you've competed a rehab program. But I want you out of here today. You hear me?"

"Yes, Jeremy. I'm sorry."

I walked out of the office and went straight to the quad, which was a big grassy field in the middle of campus.

It was a perfect spring day in southern California. The dark green grass was nicely manicured. It wasn't too hot out. There were beautiful old growth trees all around the perimeter of the quad and dorm buildings across the street on every side.

Kids were out there playing hacky sack, picnicking, and throwing frisbees.

I sat down Indian style in the grass, put my head in my hands, and cried hard for twenty minutes.

I was a twenty-year-old kid with a drinking problem and no idea how to make myself better. It's pretty awful to know what your problem is and know that what everybody says about you is right but not have any idea how to fix yourself.

I went to my dorm room and packed my stuff. My roommate drove me to the Greyhound station. I took the three-hour bus ride to San Diego, staring out the window at the monotonous grey freeway as afternoon turned to night.

I caught a public bus with my suitcases in tow from downtown San Diego to my dad's two-room apartment near the beach.

Just like that, I was back home.

I walked in and set my suitcases in the bedroom where I slept when I was home for summer.

When I came out, my dad tapped our dining room table which was off to one side of our living room because the apartment was small and didn't have a dining room.

He motioned for me to sit down.We sat next to each other without saying anything for a long time.

Finally, my dad spoke.

"You're going to Peru."

He and my brother had recently set up a business in Peru. They were selling hydraulic hoses and nuts and bolts to the maintenance department of the world's biggest gold mine, which was located outside the city of Cajamarca.

It had been a long day, and my emotions were all torn apart. I barely had any energy left.

"I can't go to Peru dad. I have to go to rehab to get back into college."


"Do rehab and when you're done, you're going to Peru. I know the last few years haven't been the easiest for you. They've been hard on all of us. But it's gone too far. Something has to change kid. You're acting like a spoiled brat. That's the truth. You can't self-destruct like this just because you go through a few bad years. I want you to go see how other people live so you'll realize how good you have it."

"Ok pop. I understand. Listen pop, can you loan me money to pay for rehab?"

"If you think I'm giving you money for rehab, you are out of your mind. Get a job son."

My brother had worked as a bartender in the evenings to make ends meet while he and my dad got their business up and running. I was able to land a short-term job as a banquet waiter in the hotel where my brother had worked.

When I had enough saved up, I checked myself into a rehab center in downtown San Diego. I slept in a room with 15 other addicts on 8 bunkbeds.We all shared a single bathroom. I had a bottom bunk and a fellow named Art slept above me.

He was a meth addict with a terrible snore. We all chided him about it, but what could he do?

I attended classes and group therapy sessions during the day and AA meetings in the evening. During breaks, I stood on a porch in front of the center and looked out at downtown San Diego's skyline.

There was a big bucket of loose tobacco on a bench with several packets of zig zags piled next to it. I'd never been much of a smoker but learning how to hand roll cigarettes appealed to me.

One of the men there, a crack addict named William, showed me how to do the rolling. And so, I smoked, and listened to downtown traffic, and heard gulls squawking from the bay, and stared at the city's tall buildings.

A heroin addict named Danny liked to sing old doo wop songs. Sometimes he would sing, and we would all watch him.

I can still see him, sitting on a bench, leaning back on the building, his black hair slicked back, his thin black mustache, his thin boney face, his dingy white tank top, smoke from the zig zag paper floating up in front of my eyes, the smile on his face while he sang.

"I only have eyes for you, ooohh ooohh ooohh."

I'm out of space for today.

I will continue with this story tomorrow.

This was a long way of expressing how thankful I am that I went to Peru when I was twenty. If I hadn't, I don't know what would have become of me.

By the way, all of this happened about 6 years before we started our chocolate business.

Thank you so much for time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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