20230408: Introduction

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The boy is in pain so he loves to get high

“Every day, he wakes up and counts the minutes until he can smoke. He feels the rush of morning coffee and thinks of getting high. His stomach stretches with food at lunch and he thinks of getting high. He thrills at the coming end of the work day and can’t believe how close he is to getting high.

He thinks of his special stash with all its accessories, and papers, and stuff. He thinks of grinding the drug until it’s a fluffy pile. He thinks of filling a pipe and packing it down. It will be so full. It will last so long.

God, he can’t wait to get high.

And finally, it’s time. His spirits rise. There’s hope. What a great day.

So he finds his special drawer full of goodies and lovingly inventories its contents: the grinders, the scrapers, the empty pre-rolls, the plastic bags of green. They’re all his friends. And finally free to be just what he wanted to be, he begins his ritual: he finds his choice nugget and he grinds it down just so. He fills his pipe. He looks through the pile and picks his favorite lighter. He wanders outside and finds just the perfect place to honor this hallmark moment. And after 540 excruciating minutes of waiting, he flicks the lighter and expertly burns the barest amount to create that blessed smoke.

He’s no amateur. He pulls and fills his lungs as deeply as possible. He holds it in like a hug. It’s been so long. Then he lets it go in a vast cloud of smoke. “Look what I made,” he thinks. “It’s so beautiful.

“I knew it would be.”

He sits back and just savors that moment. This is his reward for living. This is safety. His pulse races and his head clouds. His mouth dries. He’s surfing and sinking at the same time. He’s filled with joy.

This is freedom.

Except the minutes keep passing, and then it kind of isn’t any more. The good feelings are moving further away. They’re leaving. The boy knows leaving — he’s been left before. And suddenly he’s alone again. A little more fucked up, a little foggier, and all alone. And he thinks he knows how to fix alone, so he takes another hit – and voila. His pulse races (a little less than before) and his head clouds (a little less than before) and he’s filled with something that feels a little less than joy. He’s free (shackled).

And also, WTF? What happened before? Why didn’t it last? He did it perfect. He did everything he should. No matter. Smoke rings his head and the feeling will last this time.

But it doesn’t. And the boy is frustrated. So he does it again. And again. And he smokes until he’s numb. And the good feelings keep coming and going, and the bad feelings keep coming and coming. Only more hits can chase them – only more hits can bring them.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

He does this so often he forgets who he is. The boy is … what is he? He forgets what he likes. He forgets when he’s hungry. He forgets when he’s full. He forgets who hurts him and who loves him. He’s never fully asleep and he’s never fully awake. He forgets himself. Alone, and numb to the bad, and all of the good too.

He’s lost now. So lost. He smokes and smokes and smokes. And he’s still in pain.”