If you had told my seventeen-year old self that one day I would be able to stroll into a dispensary and buy pure THC oil, I would have said, you must be high. Back then, we took what we could get, be it filled with seeds that popped, stems that smoldered, or fragrant flowers from someone’s cousin in California.
By my mid twenties, I’d grown tired of getting high. Even if I’d been interested, I had no wired-in dorm mate or cool single friend to hook me up. If I was looking for a buzz, margaritas and martinis were a much easier and socially acceptable way to get one.
Decades passed. Marijuana was a pleasant memory of my youth. Then I was given a tiny bud. After smoking, I remembered why I’d loved it. An immediate release of tension, a wave of calm and sense of well being. I savored my small stash. When it was gone, like in my teens, I took what I could get; a few grams from someone’s own garden, a gift of gummy sensimilla that dried to dust over the two years it lasted. With today’s legal cannabis in many states, however, uncertain quality and supply is just a memory.
That’s not all that’s changed. When I first started smoking I had my life ahead of me. Now, there is less ahead than behind. Some things about growing older are great. I’m comfortable with myself and my place in the universe. After twenty-seven years, my husband and I have hit our stride. My children are on their way to being independent. My work is meaningful.
There is, unfortunately, a price to pay for that wisdom. While the mind expands, the body deteriorates. Knees ache, shoulders freeze. Exercise is mandatory. Sometimes I’m thrilled to lace up my sneakers and pump iron. Mostly, it feels like a chore. But not when I’m high.
When I’m high, exercising feels like a privilege. I appreciate how lucky I am to have a strong body that works. The aches and pains are like fingers pointing to joints or muscles that need extra love. A longer stretch, a bit of strengthening. I push through heavy weights with music pulsing in my ears. I sink onto a yoga mat and melt into the floor.
But my relationship with marijuana is more than just physical. Emotionally, pot stills the endless chatter in my mind. It’s like warm water sluicing through my cerebellum rinsing away the gunk that gets stuck between the folds. Spiritually, it helps me unplug. I breathe. I contemplate my future, my past, the meaning of my life.
To be sure, there are drawbacks. Do not ask me to do math when I’m high. While it fuels my creativity, it also temporarily shaves a few IQ points. As with alcohol, moderation is key. I limit my use to avoid the inevitable brain fog from smoking too much or too often.
As time marches on, the injustices of age will continue. I don’t like taking pills. I’m glad to know that marijuana will be with me to ease the impending discomfort. My husband and I plan on selling our suburban home. We hope to find something great in the city. God willing, we’ll have twenty years living on our own but if we ever need more help, wherever we go will have to be pot friendly.
By the time I’m ready to move into a retirement community, I’m hopeful there will be options for those who partake. The many hour-long lines outside the doors of the first two recreational cannabis stores in Massachusetts tell us the demand is there. I see endless possibilities for marijuana focused activities: toke ’n yoga, food and pot pairings, cultivation classes. I look forward to holding hands with marijuana for the rest of my life. Here’s to you, Mary Jane, my friend. Let’s grow old together.
Deborah Norkin is the Food Writing editor of Pangyrus Literary Magazine. Her features, essays, and fiction have appeared in newspapers and magazines. She lives in the Boston area where she produces and hosts author and literary events. Please visit her website, events page, and blog at DeborahNorkin.com