My relationship with Marijuana

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I was in the seventh grade when I won the highly coveted and prestigious D.A.R.E essay award. Depending on who you ask, D.A.R.E stands for either “Drugs Are Recreational Enjoyment” OR the less probable “Drugs Abuse Resistance Education.” When my name (“Christina Lundon”) was announced my heart dropped. The first thing I thought was “Why, on this day did I choose to wear this disgusting camo tank top?” Unfortunately I didn’t have time for a wardrobe change, so I strutted down the aisle, accepting some congratulatory high-fives from some classmates before making my way up to the podium. Then I proceeded to read my essay out loud. At that moment I was sure that nothing would ever compare to the natural high I was feeling as I explained the long term side-effects marijuana and other hallucinogens. Everything was going great until I remembered the cringe-worthy statement I put in the closing paragraph: “Thank you Officer W for teaching us about drugs and alcohol and the negative impact it can have on our lives. I think I speak for all of my classmates when I say that the D.A.R.E unit is incredibly informative, and your dedication to your job and service to the community is admirable. You are an inspiration to us all.” I then realized why my essay was selected among hundreds. It’s because I was the only student to offer praise and admiration toward Officer W. So as I got closer and closer to the final paragraph of my essay I weighed the consequences of reading this final statement. For one, my reputation as a “chill seventh grader” would be tarnished. I would forever be known as the brown-noser who idolized our anti-drug D.A.R.E instructor. I didn’t read the last line because I was an asshole in a camo shirt.

In 1996 my high school was the subject of an article in Time Magazine which discussed the spike in casual drug use among our nation’s youth population. The story was titled “High Times at New Trier High.” New Trier became widely known as a school where the grades are high and the students are higher. This reputation continued to flourish like a beautiful weed plant into the new millennium. Weed could be found everywhere – parties, sporting events, even on school grounds (gasp). The G stairwell was the designated weed-smoking/other unmentionable activities stairwell. It was rumored that you could get high by simply inhaling deeply in that stairwell. There were two breeds of smokers at NT: smart stoners and not-so-smart stoners. I fell into the not-so-smart non-stoner category. The smart ones knew how to hide it, while the idiot stoners would slump into class five to ten minutes late with bloodshot eyes, a bag of lays, and a sheepish grin. One time a kid came to class with a pint of Homer’s ice cream and just started eating it in class. Now there’s a guy who doesn’t give a fuck. I didn’t smoke much weed in high school, but I will never forget the first time I ever got high. Cue dream sequence…

The first time I ever truly got high was sometime in the warmer months of Junior year, so sometime in either May, June, July, August or September. The place was my friend’s gazebo, which we called “The Hut.” The Hut was a stoner’s oasis – it had music, lights, a ceiling fan and comfy furniture. Everyone else was enjoying themselves and giggling like a bunch of idiots, but being the anxious person I am, my brain decided that now would be the perfect time for a full-on anxiety attack. I started hyperventilating and begged my friend Em to take me to the hospital. At first she laughed, but then once she realized I was serious she sat down next to me and rubbed my back. This helped a little, but my heart was still beating out of my chest and my lungs still burned. It felt like a fire in my chest. I started picking at the burn on my thumb to distract myself. I ended up peeling a lot of skin off my thumb. It took weeks to heal. After 20 minutes of panic, I calmed myself down and experienced what it is to be “high as balls.” The Christmas lights on the ceiling dazzled me in ways I never thought possible. Everything anyone said was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. Time seemed to slow down. I went home that night and ate three ice cream sandwiches before going to bed, as I usually do. But on this night the ice cream tasted so unbelievable I wept real tears of happiness.