Written: November 16, 2004
“Ah, Jaysus no, sure yer doin it all wrong man!!! You gotta booorn it for a bit THEN break it into it loike I just fookin shown ya!!!!”
I was to meet Sandra after work and since it was a nice summer’s afternoon in 2004 and I was a good bit early, I decided to buy a newspaper and sit in St Stephen’s Green until it was time for our rendez vous. I was surprised to see an empty bench over by one of the fountains, for on a day like that you would normally expect to be sharing seating space. When I finally sat down I understood the reason for the vacancy.
At the next bench, about ten feet from mine, there were four lads brazenly rolling joints. One of them was obviously a rookie and receiving tuition. They sat there, happily toking away without as much as a care in the world. As I was ready to leave, a garda officer on a push bike had gone over to them and was telling them off, but as most Dublin residents would know, there’s not an awful lot you can do with perpetrators whose maximum age was no more than twelve.
The incident made me realise just how glad I was that I had been able to stop smoking hash so relatively easily about six months before. For the previous four years, although you could not say that I had been addicted per se, the drug had played a significant role in doing serious damage to my lungs, my weight, my outlook, my appearance, my mental faculties and much more.
When I was in my wild boozing phase working in the sports store there would be the odd night I would get stoned, and my first joints were had around this time.
Surprisingly I had managed to make it through four years of college without mixing in peace-pipe-passing circles of any kind. The occasional night’s spliff was perfectly harmless however, and it was when I was to obtain my own supply that the negative effects would begin to appear.
You know something; thinking is way over-rated. I reckon Descartes was mis-quoted – perhaps he was so busy thinking when he was coining his famous phrase out loud, he never finished it, and everyone around him ran off to hail “I think therefore I am…” as the guiding light in a new realm of philosophy, when actually he was probably so surprised to see everyone had gone, his concentration was broken and never had time to finish his thought!
Now I don’t claim to be a raving intellectual by any means, but I do know I enjoyed taking drugs because they helped me to stop thinking. On occasion I would pass entire days under the influence, though normally I would be able to find enough activity to keep me soberly occupied before sundown.
It was the nights that were the killer. To get to sleep I had to stop thinking. To stop thinking I had to be stoned. It would be as time-consuming as it would be irrelevant to try and account for all I was thinking about; suffice to say I just wanted to stop. The need to both pee and find food would be enough the next morning to get me out of bed, and so the cycle would start all over again.
My supply came primarily from women I had met via the internet during the periods I refer to as my “Summers of Love”, i.e. those of 2000 and of 2003. My relationships with them were primarily based on having them as a means by which I could regularly replenish my stash.
This would most definitely be the time of my life for which I am least proud, as I would go to work stoned, drive my car stoned, mind my kids stoned; it was taking over my entire life and I didn’t really care.
I did not do too much with other drugs. I had one night in Club92 in 2000 when I took half an “e” tablet, but the only effect that had was for my already big eyes to practically bulge out of my head, which made me into a side-show freak!!! I was thus not so keen to take it again!
When I went to Oregon to meet my father for the first time his wife proved to be a stoner herself while he was at work, and proceeded to give me some grass which provided me with a sensation I do NOT ever want to repeat. It was my first (and if I have anything to do with it my last) real “out of body” experience and led to a loss of control that I found quite simply terrifying.
And so I had dug myself into a hole and could not see anyone who was willing to drag me out, until of course Sandra made her call that Saturday night suggesting we get back together. I was now able to cut back to smoking at weekends, but still wished I had a reason to quit for good.
The envelope hit the doormat in early January 2004. My driving test was to take place on March the 5th. I have never been more determined to achieve anything in my life than I was to pass this test. I realised how important it was for all drugs to be out of my system by this date, so in a blaze of smoke and accompanied by a seemingly endless trough of crisps, pizzas and other calorie-filled niceties I spent a day and a half using up what supply I had left for one final hurrah. I then binned all my accoutrements which I had collected over the years to perfect my rolling technique; the papers, the mini scissors, the rolling tobacco, all gone forever.
Big and all as I am, I was lucky enough to pull myself out of the hole.
© JL Pagano 2004
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