Marijuana on the Church Parking Lot
In response to Victoria Easterday
Back when I was a kid a hundred years ago I used to fantasize about being elderly. While everyone else my age fantasized about what they wanted to be when they “grew up” I was fantasizing about being an old fart in the post-grow-up phase of life. I thought it would be awesome to be a gray-haired old fart who no longer had to work so damn hard at some life goal; an old man who had already earned respect through his life-long work who could just sit back and dispense the wisdom garnered through that life. I thought it would be really cool to be old.
“ Getting old is not for sissies.” — Victoria Easterday
Well, I finally made it to those ‘glorious’ gray-haired sunset years and it turns out that it is not like what I thought it would be. It turns out that I’m a bit of a sissy.
I am not quite as old as Victoria although I am close and rapidly catching up. This, of course, is an absurd impossibility since for every year in which I get older she also gets older so there is technically no catching up. She will forever remain ahead of me.
In my opinion, Victoria Easterday is one of the very best writers on Medium. If you have not read her you are missing out on something truly grand. Read her! Read her now!
One of the things I admire so much about her is her brutal honesty. It is the kind of brutal honesty that I had fantasized that I would have once I became an old geezer. Having reached old geezerhood, I now realize that I am just not as honest as I hoped I would be. I still have too many secrets. I still concern myself with what readers of my writing might think. I still have not totally shed the ego that insists on shaping one’s identity and legacy. I still have not earned the respect that true honesty brings.
I’m a sissy.
Recently, I have decided to quit posting new stories and articles, as well as responses to other people’s stories and articles, on Medium. I still read but I have been consciously resisting the urge to respond or share. It has not been easy. And after reading something from Victoria it is damn-near impossible.
I imagine myself sitting at a table on Victoria’s porch listening to one of her delightful stories. At the end of her story how the freaking hell can I not respond with one of my own stories? Seriously? I feel it would be almost rude of me not to do so. Every one of her stories is like a can opener prying open the stories within me. If I ever were to be truly on her porch with her she might have to slap me to shut me up.
So anyway, the last couple of stories from Victoria have been “bong stories.” They have involved marijuana. For the tiny handful of readers I have left here on Medium, you know that I almost never mention marijuana. It’s just not something I talk about.
I’m a sissy. I’m dishonest. Sure, I’ve mentioned LSD and the sacred mushroom a few times but only in passing. I have never mentioned the significant role of marijuana in my long life. Victoria’s honesty is prying open the lid to that can of worms….
Yes, I’ve smoked a lot of pot in my life — although very little lately. When I was a teenager in high school I was a complete, bona fide, pothead. I smoked before school, at lunch, after school, and again after work in the evening — and often several times in-between. I consumed a lot of alcohol, too. I also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get laid.
I was disgusting.
Oddly, I quit smoking pot when I went to college. This may have been a mistake. I never finished college and never got my degree. I was too preoccupied with Taoism, Buddhism, Zen, and other Eastern philosophies. I was seriously fucked up.
Once back in the real world I resumed my stoned ways and I endeavored to find my place on the escalator of business success as defined by Western culture. This may have been a mistake. The escalator didn’t seem to bring me up the ladder much but I did manage to get laid a lot.
And I had countless delightful experiences. I also dropped a lot of acid and I came out of the writer’s closet and admitted my addiction to writing. My fantasy of being a wise old gray-haired geezer had faded well into the background. I was just too busy living life.
And then I got married (again). I married a pothead so my pot smoking continued unabated. And I started dropping acid again. Boy, LSD sure can intensify romance…..
But then a year or two after the honeymoon I got into Native American spirituality. I gave up the pot and the acid and only indulged in the most holy sacred mushroom. (I consider it the ultimate.)
And then the baby came. I gave up everything and became a full-fledged stay-at-home mommy. It was the most incredible four and a half years of my life.
But then one day I walked my little girl to her first day of kindergarten. As her tiny hand slipped out of mine as she left me to enter the school building my life radically changed. Suddenly, I had to figure out what to do with my life.
While I was a youngster I fantasized about being an old gray-haired man but now suddenly in my late thirties I finally had to seriously start thinking about what to do with my life. I had serious decisions to make.
So I decided to resume my writing which I had given up soon after getting married again. But I also decided to become a businessman. After all, I had a little family to support.
I also started smoking pot again. There is nothing like a good buzz to help one make decisions, right?
So I ended up hedging my bets, so to speak. I started writing again since, after all, that was what I considered my true passion. But you can’t immediately start make a living at writing — unless you’re Stephen King’s brother or Bill Clinton’s illegitimate child. I had a family to support so I became a businessman. I quickly learned that being a businessman leaves little time for writing.
The next dozen years turned out to be like a dream come true. I was living the dream that I never bothered to dream when I was a stoned teenager. It was a truly glorious time. (And I smoked a ton of pot during that time.)
And then one day my wife left me to go live with her boyfriend. Soon thereafter, my daughter left me to go live with her boyfriend (who she would subsequently marry). On top of that, my business suddenly failed and I was forced to close it. Suddenly, it was just me, the dog and the cat. And I was horrifically in debt. Dreams die quickly.
And if that wasn’t enough I was soon thereafter diagnosed with advanced cancer and given six months to live. I quit smoking pot mostly because I no longer had the money to buy any.
That was seven years ago. When my doctor told me that I had six months to live and that I could possibly extend that to twelve months if I underwent $78,000 worth of chemotherapy I literally told my doctor to go fuck himself. I walked out of the hospital and in the subsequent seven years of my life I have never been healthier.
What was my miracle cure? It certainly was not marijuana — although pot could have come in handy that first year or two. No, my miracle cure was Mother Nature. I turned to her and I was cured.
Having thrown out everything in my life that had come before, I was once again faced with the decision of what to do with my life. This time I chose only one thing…..
I suddenly realized that I was on the threshold of being that gray-haired old fart that I had fantasized about way, way back when I was a kid. I realized that it was time to stop living for other people and for what other people think. I had to throw all my insecurities out the window and lay bare my soul. It was finally time to be totally honest.
And I have spent all this subsequent time learning how to be honest. I have shed so many layers of my perceived egoic identity towards that goal and the more layers I shed, the more I realize still need to be shed.
I have been mostly marijuana-free for the last seven years. My new drug is clarity. I am slowly becoming addicted. During these years I have written and published three novels and a few non-fiction books as well as a couple of short story anthologies. None of those books have taken me out of dire poverty but I’m an old geezer now so I don’t care much. I’m doing what the hell I want to do. And I’m slowly starting to not care what anyone thinks. I’m very slowly starting to realize the fantasy I had so many, many years ago. I’m not quite there but ‘there’ is slowly turning into ‘now.’
Of course, even clarity can become a drag after a while.
Last year, at a time when I was feeling a bit down because none of my three novels had made the New York Times Bestseller List and none of them were able to pay my rent, I teeter-tottered on the edge of despair, despite whatever clarity I had attained.
I no longer own an internal combustion powered vehicle so I walk where ever I need to go. (Walking is a profound cure-all.) One day last year I was walking on some errand. I have no memory of that errand. I simply recall that to get to my destination I had to cross a church parking lot.
There is a large building just a few blocks from where I live that used to be a Safeway grocery store. I wish they were still in business because they are so close to where I live. But a few years before I moved here the Safeway had closed down after the big Super Wal-Mart opened up on the outskirts of town. The other grocery stores also closed down. Now, if you want groceries, you have to drive, or in my case walk, way, way, way out to the edge of town. (Fuck you, Wal-Mart.)
Anyway, I don’t remember if it was Wal-Mart I was walking to or some other destination but to get there I had to walk across the very large parking lot of what used to be Safeway but which now was a Baptist Church. Yes, the local Baptist Church bought the old Safeway building and turned it into a Super Church. They have since expanded the huge building to include a gymnasium and a child-care facility. It’s the biggest and obviously the most lucrative church in a hundred and fifty mile radius. Six days of the week their humongous parking lot is empty and on Sundays you couldn’t find a parking space no matter how hard you prayed.
Well, it obviously wasn’t a Sunday when I found myself walking across the empty, expansive parking lot of this church. Being a walker, I have found that the best way to walk is with an empty mind. Nothing ruins the joy of walking more than thinking.
And that is when I saw it…..
I stopped walking. I looked down to the ground and there right in the middle of the huge concrete parking lot of the Baptist Church was a plastic baggie. I telescoped my vision for a closer look. I then bent over to pick up the baggie. Unzipping it, I took a deep smell. No matter how long you go without smoking pot, once you catch a sniff, you can identify it better than any drug-sniffing dog. I found a bag of pot in the middle of the parking lot of the Baptist Church! (What the hell was it doing there, I wondered!)
I looked around me to all 360 degrees. No one was watching me. I closed the bag and put it in my pocket. And I proceeded with my errands.
When I left Colorado for the current Red(neck) State in which I currently live I gave up around 90 percent of everything I owned. But I kept my little pot pipe. When I got home I spent about half an hour trying to find it. I thought I knew where it was but it had been years since I had used it.
I finally found it and loaded it with the pot in the bag I found on the ground of the Baptist Church. I only took two hits but I was shit-faced for like seven hours. Man, the pot nowadays is nothing like the weed I smoked so many, many decades ago when I was a teenager!
There wasn’t much in the baggie but it lasted me for a week. I guess when you’ve not smoked pot in years you have little resistance built up to it.
I was stoned for a week and it was the best thing that could have possibly happened to me at that current time. It thoroughly tweaked my thinking and my attitude. I was a little despondent over the lack of success of my books and the general severity of my financial situation at the time but all that flew out the window. My mind exploded with new ideas, I began a new writing endeavor, I cleaned the hell out of my apartment, and I gained about five pounds during that week. It was exactly what I needed!
Thank you, Jesus!
Luckily, that wonderful little find ran its course and I once again found myself in the serenity of clarity. But my attitude had changed and that clarity took on a whole new sense of…. clarity. I was tweaked!
Over the course of my long life I have learned that daily pot usage — day after day after day — can be quite inhibiting. I’ve also learned that years without pot usage can also be somewhat inhibiting. I’ve learned that sometimes there is nothing better than a good high to tweak one’s perspectives. In my daily walking about this little Red(neck) town whenever I find myself near the Baptist Church I always walk very carefully across its vast parking lot; my eyes scanning the ground like a red-tailed hawk looking for lunch.
For me, pot is all about timing. When I need a good tweaking it will appear.
I have a strong feeling that I could use some right about now.