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Weedin’ In The Years, Blowin’ Away The Time.

My best friend lent me a captivating book called The Satanic Bible. He said the moment he finished reading it, someone knocked on his door. He hadn’t uninvited anyone. I asked about the person.

“I’d rather not talk about it.”

He had given the book to me to abolish any evil spirits. I denied that the book cursed him. A week later, he abruptly moved back to New York. I had no other friends in town.

At thirty-three years old, damn near broke, no career and no friends, if I went a whole day without a buzz, my hypervigilance would’ve flared up. The nearest shelter from the loneliness of my apartment was five blocks away at a Starbucks. Homeless people rested there until the staff kicked them out. Too many of them shot up in the bathroom, or they would bathe or do something else unimaginable. The customers kept knocking. The manager even threw out some of his workers with needles in their arms.

He accused me of doing meth in his store.

“Um, no, I’ve never done it.”

“Open your bag. Show me.”

I showed him my laptop, my plug, my notebooks, my pens.

“Open those pens.”

The guy was worse than the TSA.

“OK, but if you come here looking like that, you would think you were on something, wouldn’t you?”

I was too depressed to make sense out of that question. To build trust with him, I bought an Iced Americano and a bagel with cream cheese, and I pretended to read The Los Angeles Times from a week ago.

One day, they got rid of the bathroom, and on that day I met Ryan. He wrote screenplays, too. At 21 years old, he appeared both homeless and handsome, something women adored.

He knew a spot behind the store where we could smoke a spliff. Passing it back and forth, we started discussing the universe and existence and metaphysics. People in their twenties believed all that hoopla mattered, and so did I. Being stoned all afternoon behind the store, we listened to a podcast and, like, contemplated, like, what it all meant, Man, from, you know, pseudoscience to, like, pseudo-philosophy, Man. The host of the show lifted weights and performed standup comedy on the side, and he mused on those subjects, but he mostly talked about the benefits of cannabis, such as how it slowed the cancer process and alleviated symptoms of epilepsy. What a great drug.

It’s not a drug,” Ryan said. “It’s a plant.”

“Oh, my mistake.”

“You’re forgiven.”

Ryan called himself an atheist, but his father preached at a Baptist church. In his free time, he studied cannabis horticulture such as the effects of each strain. Whenever I saw him, I assumed he was high.

“Yo, you gotta try this White Rhino, Man…This Blue Dream is perfect for yoga…Forget what I said about the White Rhino. This White Widow is miles better…”

He also suggested a different series on Netflix each week. “Have you seen Homewreckers? What about Pawnshop Republicans ?… I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m so hooked on the third season of Elephantitis.”

He kept recommending a sativa called Jack Herer because it channeled creativity.

“I smoke only medicinal,” he said, “none of that street bullshit,” as he puffed on a type called AK-47. Other names could’ve been mistaken for kids’ candy, not that my Lexapro didn’t sound like an alien planet. If I got high enough on Sour Diesel, I could’ve met Zoloft from the planet Levitra.

Regardless, the depression left me numb to any new ideas. I would’ve snorted pencil erasers if I heard they made any difference.

The next day, Ryan brought me a nug of Jack Herer in a plastic bag along with a glass pipe he didn’t use anymore. He also gave me an issue of High Times magazine and a ballcap with the universal green cannabis leaf symbol on it. A week prior, I noticed a man typing a screenplay on his MacBook and wearing a hat with the word WRITER on the front. I took Ryan’s gifts and thanked him, but when he slept on the couch, I threw both the hat and the magazine in the dumpster. The writer’s hat should’ve joined them–the writer as well.

That night, I hurried home to try the Jack Herer. Back in 2010, people did time in San Quentin for possessing the stuff. I checked the windows for police patrolling the neighborhood, or my landlord scoping the property with her flashlight, which she did nightly. In college, I used to smoke other peoples’ weed. My roommates never hid their stashes from me; they never complained, never minded. They preferred to share it. Having a nug all to myself, for once, felt different. I opened myself to an imaginary club of distinguished writers who abused drugs. Hemingway poisoned himself with absinthe and floated through Paris. Hunter S. Thompson tripped on acid and freaked out in casinos. I got ready for the plunge. The first hit, a tiny one, had me sinking beneath my desk. Just one, I told myself, one and you’ll stop for good. My vocabulary expanded; the words flowed effortlessly. The high remained through one-sixth of the night until reality tapped me and reminded me that I possessed something illegal, like explosives or an unlicensed firearm or a prostitute from Nevada. The city forbade pot (whether street or medicinal) within 500 feet of a school. The one next to my building was for blind kids. The children could probably breathe it from their classrooms.

Next morning, the stench lingered in my apartment, while my landlord raked the garden outside my window. She looked for new reasons to evict any tenant who had rent control. I peeked down at her and her husband. She had a sour look on her face.

“I smell weed.”

I quickly shut the blinds and sprayed the rest of my Lysol.

Later that day, I told Ryan what miracles the Jack Herer did for my imagination.

“I have more,” so he gave me more.

“You’re not going to hit me with a huge bill, are you?”

“Of course not, Man.”

At first, I didn’t trust him, but a 21-year-old from Kentucky was only looking for friends. The debt I owed to him was to spend a whole day with him, which I did.

He shacked up in a treehouse in Beachwood Canyon and laid on a legless mattress he found in the same dumpster as the High Times.

“Have a seat, Man.”

“No thanks.”

It’s all good. I’ve been waiting to show you this.”

“Show me what?”

He pulled out something called the Yeti, a four-foot didjeridoo. At six-foot-five, he still didn’t have the wingspan to light that thing up. I used a fireplace lighter on the other end. After about two-dozen puffs, he finally pulled in from a bowl that could fit an avocado seed. I steadied the didgeridoo. Once he inhaled, he closed his eyes and held the busload of White Widow in his lungs before he cleared them out. He disappeared in the fog for many seconds.

“You’re up, Man.”

I would’ve declined, but the unwritten moral code between potheads was never to reject an offer. The medicine jammed my lungs, and I coughed everything out. The cough only intensified the high. A frightening haze of derealization filled the room. I was a fictitious sleepwalker in a fictitious world.

In a treehouse.

He laid the Yeti against the wall and pulled something else from the closet.

“If you think that thing is cool, look at this. I found it at the army surplus store.”

He revealed a gas mask.

He didn’t play around with it like a kid in a werewolf mask, and he didn’t use it to scare the chickens below the treehouse either.

“Are you ready for the most intense high ever?”

He treated cannabis as a sport, like extreme skiing, in which people would use helicopters for ski lifts. Taking a standard bong the length of a rolled-up poster, he stuck it through the breathing apparatus of the gas mask, and he lit up in the same way he usually would. Right after he pulled the bong away and exhaled, his voice sounded like Darth Vader’s.

“The stage is yours.”

Moral codes be damned. The walls began shrinking, so I went to the ladder.

“Wait, where you going?”

“For a walk.”

“Come back.”

He could’ve begged all he wanted, but I climbed down to Beachwood Canyon Drive. I sat next to the chicken coop, again hallucinating. The birds couldn’t ponder existence with me, let alone sit down and relax. They moved chaotically, jerking their heads to propel themselves in absurd directions. How did they sleep? I tried to imagine one with its head on a leaf and its wings on its belly.

One of them squatted to the dirt and pushed something out. It walked away without a wipe.

Ryan accompanied me there, holding a copy of Siddhartha, and together we watched them.

“Think about how good your life is,” he said.

Another chicken came by and picked the turd up with its beak.

“Don’t do it,” I said, and the chicken dropped it back down.

The property belonged to Ryan’s neighbor, Celestial, a woman in her forties who lived in the house below him. She practiced Tantric massage. At first, when he said her name, I thought her last name was Teal, as in Celeste Teal. He raved how well she used her hands, and she gave him extras as well.

“You should hook up with her,” he said, “and make sure you’re high.”
He believed THC enhanced any first experience. He drank casually and toked religiously, as he said he could awaken his kundalini with a strain called Trainwreck.

One night we went to a watering hole I had gone to every week for the past year. I took a woman home from there once, so I expected another triumph on each visit. We were buzzing down La Brea where people did crack and slept out on the sidewalk. We passed a psychic spot, a Thai restaurant, a laundromat, and an ice cream parlor run by Russian gangsters.

“You see that ice cream shop?” Ryan said. “They’re selling something much sweeter than Rocky Road.”

I didn’t need a third eye to realize that.

We kept silent for the rest of the way, meditating in case of some imminent threat. Right when we sat on the stools, he began talking to an intoxicated young woman. They adored the skinniest, youngest, and tallest man in the room, and they didn’t mind that he resembled a crane.

He went to the parking lot with her and shared a joint. By my fifth round, he must’ve gone home with her, but by the sixth, he returned from the back.

“Yo, I just banged her in the girls’ room.”

This kid was robbing my bucket list.

One round later, he met an older woman named Marisa. She pretended I didn’t exist or didn’t pretend at all.


The high could let me float past rejection.

I ordered another Amstel and a shot.

“Yo, you going to be here a moment? We’re going back to her place.”

Damn him.

So with him gone, I drank to Conway Twitty, to the Aquabats, to Katy Perry, and N’Sync, all playing on a digital jukebox. In the empty hours, it would automatically play the worst songs to force someone to pay for something else. I had nothing against those artists except for their awful music.

I got so lonely that I talked to myself. The bartender said to me, “hey, stop talking to yourself.”

In those isolating moments, I preferred whiskey over Mary Jane.

About a half hour later, Ryan came back inside looking disappointed. I figured he did what most guys his age did with a woman: to offend her and fuck the whole thing up.

“What did you say to her?”

“Fucking sucks, man. All she did was give me a blowjob.”

“She only did what?”

“She wouldn’t let me fuck her. All she did was blow me. Fucking bullshit.”

“Do you have any perspective on life?”

“What do you mean?”

“Forget it.”

“Siddhartha said when one seeks, he never finds it, so what the fuck?”

He answered the question himself.

“Let’s drink and forget,” I said.

“I’ll go for that.”

By two AM, my head whirled in a somewhat pleasant way. I could’ve gone home and listened to a Modest Mouse album, but my young friend from Kentucky wouldn’t get over Marisa.

On the way back to the apartment, he began kicking newspaper stands and tearing flyers off the walls, cursing his life, and as a result, killing my buzz, all because he got a blowjob. Sativa had him quoting Terrence McKenna. But on Fireball Whiskey he was stamping his kundalini into the sidewalk. God, I missed my best friend.

At Hollywood and La Brea, we passed a wild one on junk or something else. He muttered something to us, and Ryan said, “What did you say, you queer?”

“You don’t want nothing from me.”

“I’ll kick your ass, queer-face.”

“You should walk the other way.”

But that only provoked Ryan.

“Come on, Man, let’s just go home,” I said.

Rather than listening to me, he wrapped the guy in a headlock. “You better say you’re sorry.”

The guy wouldn’t apologize. He stunned Ryan with a swift whack to the face. Afterward, he began dancing around Ryan like a kangaroo.

“You bitch, you got me right in the eye.”

“I told you not to fuck with me, and you did, and this what you got.”

Ryan started shouting threats at him through his hands as the guy walked farther away, still taunting him. Too old and depressed for that nonsense, I left him on the corner.

By the time he got to my apartment, his eye had turned blue, black, and yellow. I didn’t have an ice pack for him, just a bottle of Aquafina. Before turning in to his treehouse, he took some more White Widow.

“If that little bitch wouldn’ta got me with such a pussy-ass-cheap-shot, I woulda knocked him into next Tuesday.”

“Why is it always Tuesday? Why not Wednesday or Thursday?”

Pressing the bottle against his eye, he gazed elsewhere in my room.

“Good question.”

could distract him enough with stoner philosophy to change the subject. Nonetheless, Ryan needed validation, which explained the whole point of the fight.

He delivered flowers for a living, from a boutique in the same strip mall as the Starbucks. Some of the customers were famous actresses in the hills whom he banged on the clock. His life was half a porn film, half a Harmony Korine film. When he got into his second accident, he totaled the owner’s car, so the owner fired him. Afterward, Ryan refused to work for the man. To battle the elite corruption, he napped at Starbucks. The manager disallowed that sort of behavior in the store, so he woke him up.

“No napping in here, Ryan. If you want to stay here, you’ll have to buy something. You know the rules.”

I got tired of buying him his favorite drink each time: a Triple Mocha Frappucino with extra whipped cream and five shots of espresso each time. He got Celestial to pay him an allowance.

“I didn’t need no job anyway. I beat the system. No one can’t tell me what to do because I don’t care.”

His explanation left me stupified. He had executed a triple-double. Or a double negative with a triple negative. It was almost poetic. Mathematically, he did care, but I wasn’t positive.

The podcast intrigued us about flotation therapy. We ventured out to a facility in Hermosa Beach on a Sunday afternoon. The guy who ran it wore sunglasses from The Matrix. Perhaps he had traveled from the future to put us in float tanks.

His name was Fuse.

At least Fuse wasn’t short.

Explaining how the therapy operated, he stared off into the fifth dimension.

“Gentlemen, you have two hours to explore your subconscious. During which I will survey the boardwalk for nutrition and perform various other missions, so I trust you will be fine here alone.”

“Yeah, but, we’ll be in the dark,” I said. “How will we know when our time is up?”

“Time is immaterial, my friend.”

We waited for him to add to that observation, but he stopped there and just remained transfixed with that other dimension. I couldn’t argue anyway.

“If at any moment you experience psychic shock, don’t hesitate to leave the tank. You may utilize the showers afterward. Speaking of nutrition, should you require substance, there are vegan oat bars in the care basket next to the tank. Are there any inquiries before your journey?”

Not enough. The main inquiry was of how many floaters before me experienced this psychic shock. I was too afraid to ask.

Of all those minutes I lay in darkness, the first fifteen of them tested my sanity. To lie there for that long, above hundreds of pounds of salt, could’ve triggered madness. In a movie called The Serpent and the Rainbow, a white man in Haiti wound up catatonic and buried alive, yet somehow he survived the ordeal. In another scene, he had a nail driven through his penis, which was irrelevant to sensory deprivation but worth mentioning nevertheless…

The mind eased itself eventually into nostalgia, to the brighter times in my life, such as high school graduation, or the first time I squeezed a girl’s boobs or the many sexual adventures and conquests in my twenties, all projected on the ceiling. Where had the magical times gone, and why couldn’t I have them back? All the while I drifted from one side to the next, bumping against each wall and floating to another. I lost myself in time. Man invented time. We subscribed to its destructive grandeur. Yet I instinctively knew how many minutes in there had passed. I couldn’t fight the urge to masturbate. Surely other people had done it, but what happened to them? If Fuse had come from the future, his sunglasses might’ve had infrared technology. It was too late anyhow.

He spoke through a microphone, “Your journey is now complete.”

It sure was.

I tried to wash all the salt off me in his shower, but I missed some regions including my ear canals. The water brought shivering. He must’ve believed water heaters were immaterial as well. The soap came out one of those frustrating wall dispensers, which belonged with the sink, and without a washrag, I relied on my bare hands to rub my body with a peppermint liquid that felt like menthol burning my skin. I gave up and went home with salty ears.

After two hours of little to no sensory, neither Ryan nor I said anything. From Hermosa to Hollywood, the material world served no purpose. Tomorrow appeared so very far away. Nothing mattered, good or bad. The accumulated salt on my body and the heavy seconds in isolation both added an immense density to my being. I may as well have slept for a year. I lost all thoughts, and nothing in the waking world motivated me enough to listen.

In this bizarrely peaceful meditation, we sat in the bar to reflect on our journey. The Amstel had no flavor; the patrons and the bartender were of little interest.

“We’ll go back there tomorrow, Man. And this time you need to eat a brownie. And some shrooms, too. We’ll do them together. Jethro from the pizza store knows a guy in Eagle Rock.”

Jethro had graduated from MIT. It got him only so far (and not as far as mushrooms).

I got curious enough to experiment with more strains, but first I needed a medical marijuana card. The doctor didn’t have a name. He donned a stethoscope over a flower shirt with his chest hair showing. I admitted I had chronic depression and anxiety.

“Are you ever suicidal?”

“On Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”

“Roll your sleeve.”

Apparently, suicide correlated with high blood pressure.

At the end of the interview, he wrote me a prescription for Valerian Root. He told me about a Walgreen’s around the corner.

“Valerian Root? Is this the right place?”

Well, he issued me a card with the cannabis logo on it, so, yes.

Ryan recommended a pharmacy, as he called it, on Santa Monica Boulevard behind a Winchell’s Donuts. I expected a typical pharmacy, a sterilized atmosphere, like a Walgreen’s with gray-haired men in lab coats.

“Did you have any questions about the medication?”

“Thank you, but I decline to be counseled.”

Whoever ran the dispensary named it the Wellness and Caring Center. From the outside, it looked no different than a so-called massage parlor.

Inside, a young Latina with a neck full of tattoos and a silver ring between her nostrils sat behind bulletproof glass.

“Am I at the right place? I’m looking for the Wellness and Caring Center.”

She ignored the question and asked for my medical ID. My information went into a database, which made me paranoid. She had me fill out a three-page medical questionnaire that asked me if I suffered from cancer or migraines or bipolar or fibromyalgia. The process took ten minutes.

“You can go in now,” she said.

She buzzed a door that belonged in a maximum security prison, and I pressed with my legs to a second waiting room. In there, a three-hundred-pound Samoan guard patted me down before he escorted me through a botanical hallway. I stepped into a room that should’ve been tapped by the FBI. A Wiz Khalifa song played through a small speaker, rapping about weed and bitches. Some guy entered through a beaded curtain, wearing a shirt that said BORN FUCKED. His skin had more ink than the receptionist and the guard combined. What’s more, his earlobes were stretched out a quarter wide by tribal piercings.

“Are you a cop?” he asked.

“No, why?”

“You look like a cop.”


“You have to say you’re a cop.”

“I’m not a cop.”

“OK, I believe you.”

He arranged the top shelf items in front of me on a counter. “Now, what do you want?”

They kept all the different strains in the type of glass jars my mother put her grounded coffee in. Some glowed in brighter colors than others.

“How about a gram of Jack Herer?”

“He’s all gone.”

Well, shit.

“Any suggestions?”

“The Afghani Headfuck is solid.”

No wonder the state of California wouldn’t legalize it.

To persuade me, he opened the jar of Afghani.

“Put your nose in there. Go on. Take a whiff.”

They did this sort of thing at wineries in Napa. I didn’t consider myself a connoisseur, so I didn’t know what aromas to sniff for other than skunk.

“I like the Afghani because of its earthiness,” he said.

Well, plants did grow from the earth.

He also recommended the Blue Dream because of its fruitiness, but I couldn’t detect any mangoes.

“One gram of the Afghani Headfuck, please.”

“This is your first time here, so I’ll give you a deal.”

He let me choose between a thirty-percent discount or a free care-pack with a joint and an edible of my choosing. I knew about cookies and brownies through my friend who would bake them in his kitchen; but at this place, they offered gummies, taffy, chocolate bars; they even had soda. I decided on a chocolate chip cookie. Nothing close to what the Keebler elves would’ve made. He wrapped it in saran and gave it to me, but on contact, it crumbled in my hand.

“That’ll be fifteen dollars.”

“You take Visa?”

“Cash only.”

At least it was tax exempt.

I gave him an Andrew Jackson. He pulled a lump from his pocket, removed a rubber band from it and gave me five flimsy Washingtons patched in scotch tape.

Once I was ready to leave, the Samoan let me out the door. He checked both ways before letting me out into daylight.

That night, I traveled north to my parents’ house in the central valley. They were oblivious to my dirty habit, and I wouldn’t tell Mom about my aspiration to become a drug addict either, so once she and Dad went to bed, I ate the pot-cookie. Those black smudgy things on top were either chocolate chips or kief in food coloring.

After consumption, nothing happened. What a ripoff, I thought.

I pulled a Bud Light from the fridge and went to the front porch. For a brief interlude when I got buzzed and gazed at the stars, life was OK. No traffic. No jackhammers. No helicopters. Only music from the crickets and a tall tree in my mother’s lawn. Eckhart Tolle suggested I stare at it for inner stillness.

The edible kicked in. My world turned into an Edvard Munch painting. The tree began swirling, and a cluster of radio stations played in my head at once.

Something rustled the branches.

“Who’s there?”

A group of knights climbed down the trunk. They didn’t exist, but they gathered on the lawn. The Templar commander stepped up to me and said something beneath his armor.

“Um, can you repeat that?”

He shook his head in disappointment and guided his men down the road without their horses. I had two options: either try to talk myself back to sanity or call an ambulance. Fortunately, the hallucinations vanished, so I canceled the latter.

Ever since that episode, I gave up on the edibles, yet I kept getting high every day, waiting for my life to improve, not to improve my life.

One morning, I filled my pipe with Blue Dream before I went to work. My eyes were bloodshot. The customers showed the same disregard as before. I was handling their food and pouring their glasses. My manager didn’t notice either. Clearly, there were gray circles around my eyes. The high lasted for a couple of hours. Once my manager put me on a break, sobriety weighed me back down. Every subsequent time I flew back up, my wings got shorter.

On Super Bowl Sunday, my childhood friend invited me to his house party in Santa Monica. He got drunk only on festive occasions, which I never understood. They called his type “normies,” or people who chased buzzes only at parties a few days out of the calendar year. Something must’ve helped him through that whole time.

I got my morning headrush and drove out to Santa Monica. The drive was pleasant until west of the 405, where I ran into beachgoers. I avoided Santa Monica, not because of the beach itself but because of the social congestion. Too many people in one place made me panic. I drove with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on my cell phone. “Bring some beer,” he said, so I pulled into a 7-11 as another car was making a left turn. We collided. Fuck, I’m high, and he’ll see it all over me. He got out in a tuxedo, cracking his knuckles at me. In the passenger side was a woman wearing a wedding gown. The collision was lite yet severe enough to where she was crying.

He yelled at me. “Look at her. She shit herself. Are you happy now?”

“She shit herself?”

“Yeah, we just bought the fucking gown.”

“Calm down. We don’t want insurance into this. I’ll pay you for whatever damages.”

After we exchanged information, I picked up a 12-pack and rushed to my friend’s home before kickoff. For as minor as the accident was, it still awakened tremors. I was having anxiety attacks on the couch, disengaged from the game among all those strangers, about those people reading my mind, about the cost of repairs, about my parents finding out, about what sort of a weirdo would buy a wedding gown on Super Bowl Sunday.

I spent the second half of the game with an attorney, discussing the incident, going over my rights as a citizen. He didn’t drink at the party, but I sure did.

I never told him I was high, but I admitted it to my therapist a week later. He reprimanded me.

“Luckily you didn’t get a DUI,” which an addict wanted to think was too far-fetched so he could justify his actions. “Keep smoking the pot, though. Maybe you’ll get brain damage.” Those were uncomfortable moments, being anxious in a place for anxiety treatment.

His fear tactic haunted me long after that day. I quit toking in the morning and did it only at night for insomnia. In bed, I ruminated over losing my mind forever.

Ryan and I laid in the float tanks one last time. That trip carried no revelations. The whole thing was getting to be ridiculous; me floating, expecting any real benefits. It was like the fat-jiggling machine or some other gag in the back of a 1950s comic.

On the way back to my Mazda, we ran into a couple of Rastafarians. Well, they had Rastafarian hairdos, but neither of them was Jamaican. One of them blew dust in my face. I covered my eyes. “Oh my God, I can’t see.” I heard Ryan attacking them both, and the two rastas laughing like stoners.

My vision came back that night, but I couldn’t shut my eyes, fearing I would wake up as a zombie. Theoretically, my life was an animated coma already.

After that day in Hermosa, I didn’t see him for a few weeks. He didn’t text me either. The next time I saw him, he was forlorn. He handed back the copy of Anton Levay’s The Satanic Bible.

“Did you read the whole book?”

“Yeah, it was dope until the part about sacrificing chickens. That made me sad.”

“I understand.”

“This is it,” he said. “I’m moving back in with Pops.”

“In Kentucky?”

“Yup. It’s over. I can’t make it here.”

He didn’t want to work another day for the rest of his life. The idea was wishful but impractical.

“So what’re you going to do?”

“I’m going to build a farm in Kentucky. Have some chickens of my own. I can get high in a barn all I want. Live the simple life.”

Ryan was full of impracticalities. He was underestimating the difficulty of beginning a farm.

“Fuck this Hollywood shit. I’m not a whore. And ma dad better not think I’m going to work for his church either. God is dead. If he forces me to, I’ll bust him right in the melon.”

After hearing the plans he laid out, I knew I would never see him again.

“Come here,” I said.

I hugged him, but I wouldn’t miss him. Not yet. I was dealing with too many conflicting emotions. One of them was hopelessness that he would be my last friend forever. Another one was a new optimism that growth was on the way. A good friend could still be a bad person, and a bad person could still be a good friend. I wouldn’t say Ryan was bad, but he was confused, which made him a bad influence regardless–if that made any sense.

“Let’s keep in touch,” I said.

“We will. And when I start growing my homegrown shit, I’ll bring it out here. It’ll be the best.”

Once he moved back home, he dropped himself from Facebook and Twitter. He changed his phone number, too. I didn’t miss him that much anyway.

Besides work, the bar, the liquor store, and the dispensaries, I spent the next several years in hibernation. At a particular sunrise, a revelation dawned at the stoop of my building. If we couldn’t get high together, our friendship was useless. Not that I hated the guy–not at all–but the drugs, and only the drugs, were our sole connection. Those peaceful moments of clarity happened unexpectedly and in otherwise mundane situations, and this one flitted by before I sunk back down from the high.

To chase another moment like that, I continued smoking every day for the next eight years. My memories began dying. Some of them came back to life, but I was uncertain as to which year they happened. Was my heart broken in 2013? Did I lose a friend in 2015, or was it 2016? Each passing year, I terminated more friendships until I had the drugs all to myself. All the while, no other moments were as gratifying as the one that morning.

I sat in the same bar one night and reflected on that afternoon when Ryan offered me the first nug of Jack Herer. How different my life could’ve been.

Marisa was flirting with another young guy. She left with him, holding his hand; his other hand holding a skateboard.

The doorman put his hand on my shoulder.

“Yo, we’re lighting up out front. You wanna join?”

I placed a cocktail napkin over my glass and followed him out there.

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