Being high

The sun is high in the sky. Directly above my head, threatening to turn my pasty, white skin against me. Ducking into a local cafe to wait out the heat of the day only makes sense. And so my friend and I do exactly that.

This is Cambodia. What the hell else is a person meant to do?

“Food, gentlemen?”

“A couple of milk shakes, please. And can you make them happy?”

The local man cocks his head sideways. Then he smirks at us, in a very sly manner.

“Happy for you, yes boss.”

I’ve never been high before, but lately, I’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about. Why are teenagers the world over spending years of their lives smoking weed? Why did some of my university mates rant and rave about the blissful feeling of being high? Why is marijuana, as a mind-altering substance, illegal, when alcohol, also a mind-altering substance, is not?

Why? Why? Why?

“Here’s your shake, sir.”

There’s no mistaking the green bits floating around inside that glass. There’s no mistaking the scent as you sniff one of those stems. This just might be an experience after all. I just might learn what all the fuss is about.

And so we enjoy our drinks.

But we feel nothing. So we order another one.

Still nothing.

“Here’s your bill, boss.”

Disappointed, we venture off to a local fish spa and dangle our feet inside the tank. The “doctor fish” swim over and begin nibbling at the dead skin we’ve accumulated from walking around these small towns, agenda-free.

Still nothing.

One hour goes by. Then another. Now a cute Australian girl is sitting beside me, her accent so thick I can barely understand what she’s saying. And all of a sudden, halfway through one of her thoughts, I grasp for the bench I’m sitting on. I swear gravity just shifted and tried to throw me into the fish tank.

Who is this girl? And what on earth is she talking about?

I turn to my friend. “I think my feet are clean. We should probably walk.”

So we walk for what feels like hours. Ten minutes later, we arrive back at our hotel room. And we sit. And stare. At fucking nothing.

“So what should we do?”

“Well, right now we’re sitting here being high. I guess we could go find something to eat.”

We leave the hotel and walk. Forever. A million faces pass me by and I’m more lost than I’ve ever been before. Feeling afraid of never finding our way home, we decide to turn back. We look up and realize we’re standing right in front of the hotel.

So we try again. Try to take on this world. Try to find food. This time, we make it all the way to the end of the block. But this town is scary, I think. So, once again, we walk back to our hotel. Every concrete slab in the sidewalk is tilting as I press my feet against them. People are staring. Surely the police are coming by now.

Two days later, I’m sober. The world makes sense again. Finally.

We went and saw Angkor Wat while high. I felt like we walked around those glorious temples for days. We were gone three hours.

Every conversation I had was in slow motion. I could express a thought, wait a moment to see how it sounded, and then run after the words and steal them back, if necessary.

For 48 hours, I was a stupid, fucking pothead. Being high made me paranoid. Being high made me useless. Everything was a task. I fell asleep three times while trying to decide if brushing my teeth one morning was really worth the trouble.

That was two weeks ago. That was frightening.

My name is Graham, and I will never get high again. Ever.