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Apr 20, 2017
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As I write this, I wish I could smoke a big, fat blunt. The kind of blunt rolled with my own fingers, the paper carefully packed to perfection, each tuck and fold done with the same precision as wrapping a precious Christmas gift.

It's just better that way.

I wish I could leave the confines of my office desk, head down to the nearest smoking area, and spark that spliff without having to think twice about it. Inhaling the smoke, I’d fill my lungs with that familiar tickling sensation—hold it in for a good two seconds, I’d tell myself—before blowing out a cotton candy cloud that swirled in thick wisps before completely disappearing into thin air.

It is, after all, 4/20, every marijuana aficionado’s favorite date.  

Herb once played an integral role in my daily life. And although I wasn’t a gangster, I sort of lived that infamous line from Dr. Dre’s rap anthem, “The Next Episode”—you know, the one that goes “SMOKE WEED EVERYDAY!”

I was in no way, shape, or form a menace to society (unless waking and baking and ravenously devouring a sweet bowl of cereal in the morning counted as a crime against humanity). I was your garden-variety stoner, weaned on too much psychedelic rock, European cinema, and Jack Kerouac—obsessed with the sort of bohemia that went well with ratty Jimi Hendrix t-shirts and aviator sunglasses.

From my teenage years, all the way up to my late 20s, I could never watch a movie or an episode of my favorite TV shows without taking a hit from a bowl. In my head, it enhanced every viewing experience, making comedies more hilarious and heavy dramas more cathartic.

Reading books was even better—the words seemed to pop and become more meaningful, and you could fashion a reality where you were the wizard behind the curtain. It also allowed for intimate conversations with friends and family, navigating me through barriers of inhibition, embarrassment, and awkwardness with a certain flow and ease that sometimes didn’t come naturally.

Weed, I felt, helped me better get in touch with my emotions. Not that I wasn’t an emotional person to begin with—I’ve been called intense on more than one occasion and have a tendency to defend my opinions with enough vigor to be deemed what kids nowadays call “triggered.”

'It also allowed for intimate conversations with friends and family, navigating me through barriers of inhibition, embarrassment, and awkwardness with a certain flow and ease that sometimes didn’t come naturally. Weed, I felt, helped me better get in touch with my emotions'

I am, in fact, highly emotional. And marijuana, well, it only heightened my sensitivity—ironically, it grounded my otherwise aggressive form of expressiveness.

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I still remember the first time I smoked. Like sex, getting a tattoo, and heartbreak—you never forget your first. I was 14, and we had gone on a family outing during summer vacation. Late in the evening, my oldest brother had no one to get high with, and on a whim, invited me for a toke.

One puff. Two puffs. Three. I pretended to know what I was doing. We passed the pipe back and forth, talking as we did so. Communicating. Bonding. Bridging the gap between our five-year age difference. I was having fun.  

I recall it feeling like almost nothing at first, until the speckles of dust in my mind began to settle, like seaweed washing up on the nearby shore and finding their resting place among the sand. Suddenly, the crickets seemed to hum to a tune I could understand. From a distance, the waves crashed with force and purpose and melody. My fingers felt funny, my mouth was dry, and my throat was parched. All of this didn’t matter so much, because now I knew what it was like to be stoned. To be high. To be so deep within yourself that tranquility takes the wheel.

Shit felt good. Shit felt great. Shit felt all sorts of awesome.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of bad trips—gravity bongs and edibles being the obvious culprits. If you think marijuana is capable of introspection, wait till you get greedy and smoke too much of it that you’re actually vomiting your pent-up emotions and spaghetti dinner all over your friend’s balcony floor (true story). But for me, marijuana has always had a positive effect on my emotional well-being. It was a constant source of chill, cheaper than a therapist and a habit I could still function properly on.

It wasn’t until I had to take on more responsibility at work that I had to kick the daily habit in lieu of a more recreational approach. Just try keeping a straight face while talking to management and your staff with bloodshot eyes. The sudden shift made me moody, hot-headed, and prone to outbursts that were once uncommon when I was getting high on the regular. These fits and bouts with anger were affecting and putting stress on my relationships, my romantic one especially. Being stoned, it seemed, made me a better lover, docile and affectionate and caring. Marijuana was more than capable of taming my inner demons.

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I’ve since learned to wrestle with my emotions sober. Perfectly rolled joints, a tightly filled glass pipe, and a brownie here and there are now reserved for special vacations. Nowadays, I’m more addicted to putting in a good sweat. Trust, endorphins are just as addictive and calming as burning one down. Sobriety, I’ve since learned, has its own unique kind of head high. The hyper-real can be pretty trippy, too, once you give it a chance. Heck, just watching the news and scrolling through social media is like diving headfirst into a surrealist painting.

At the end of a long, hard day, it’s still comforting to know that there’s a distinct escape that comes with smoking a big, fat blunt. The kind of blunt rolled with my own fingers, the paper carefully packed to perfection, each tuck and fold done with the same precision as wrapping a precious Christmas gift.

Because, for those of us who celebrate what it’s capable of, who find joy in the simple pleasure it provides, that’s exactly what it is.

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