When people hear the word, “stoner,” in association with a quiet woman like me, they will come to a very different conclusion concerning my current favorite past time.

Before you judge me for writing about this, before I even begin writing, I want you to know that I am not here to tell you that my choices are either good or bad, because really, I myself could argue it either way.

The first time I smoked anything at all, I was in high school.

My best friend of four years, which at the time was the longest amount of time I had been best friends with anyone, really wanted me to try it. She was a smart girl, my parents loved her, and they suspected nothing when she came over that night. It was still warm enough to sit on my roof, so we did, and we smoked.

She told me that most people do it wrong the first time and, as a result, feel no effect. I started to feel giggly. My eyes felt heavy. At one point, I realized that I had been standing in the same, weird position, mid-motion like a statue, and had no idea why or how long I had been there.

“You’re definitely high,” my friend said, giggling. I giggled back.

She followed up by asking me if I heard police sirens. I had done my research and recognized the question as paranoia, a typical side effect.

I shook my head, ‘no.’ I had not heard police sirens.

But I heard patterns in the songs of the crickets outside, the tumbling of lulls and swells in it suddenly unavoidably and breathtakingly apparent.

The second time, I was with my cousins.

My older cousin brought some to a holiday family gathering. We cracked a window and lit incense. Within a half hour, I was lying on the ground, eyes closed. I felt what I could only describe as balls of energy coursing through my body. Time slowed down, except around the balls of energy, where time seemed to concentrate and, from there, pull my molecules through a viscous substance.

I imagined Ms. Frizzle traveling through my body on her magic school bus and then returning to find her students were her own age. My cousin informed me that my body was twitching and I asked if I needed help.

I told her I felt fantastic.

The first time I smoked Purple Haze, which was then a legendary breed, I had purchased it myself. I was living with my dad’s brother and his family in Boston, where I could commute to school. I was working at a cash register part-time to help pay for school and, though my neck, shoulders, and feet ached when I came home, I was making money.

The first night I came home to Purple Haze, I showered, changed into pajamas, took out my notebook, and lit up.

The Purple Haze seemed to actually cover everything in misty, purple veil. Eyes closed, I imagined the smoke I exhaled leaving my body and joining the veil.

I thought about each breath being my last breath.

Calmly, I watched my life leave me and take on a new life, joining with other lives that left their bodies, forming one, amalgamated organism. Some of the enjoining lives struggled with the unity before becoming incorporated; others melted seamlessly, peacefully.

One time, when I was home over break, my mom found my bowl.

I had been smoking in my room and was sitting on my bed, blissful, when she walked in to consult me on some plan or other. I saw my piece on my dresser but remained calm, engaged her attention.

Eventually, she turned around and saw it.

She looked back at me and said nothing. To this day, I have no idea what she made of it.

Senior year, the beginning of this year, I moved in with three roommates.

My roommate and I, one of my best friends, shared a room. Sick of school, I became withdrawn and hogged the space as soon as the semester began. Even alone in my room, if anyone else was home, I felt distracted beyond the possibility of focus. If I smoked, I could leave the present company, be somewhere else, even if that place was so fractured that sometimes my waking thoughts would disappear, completely and utterly, as though I had just woken from a dream.

I experienced paranoia sometimes when high.

One of the first times this happened, I was out on the streets of Cambridge one night, luckily with friends, when I became completely disoriented. I never left the house high alone at night after that. Later, when I was home alone on weekends and our house creaked like the old house that it was, I thought the walls were caving in.

Sitting alone, I remembered my worst moments. I cried and cried, begging forgiveness from a Higher Entity.

Eventually, I learned to overcome paranoid thoughts, denying them entrance into my consciousness, whether high or sober.

I learned to focus on my work, hold complex thoughts, even pay attention to a television playing and people arguing in the very same room as me, high or sober.

I learned to cry and beg for forgiveness, and, whether high or sober, learned to have hope that I had been forgiven. I remembered that I could relax, imagine, listen, and feel, high or sober.

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  • South Asian witch doctor and warrior princess. Memoirist. Please, allow me to enter your brainwaves.