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It was never so easy in the past. The first few hours were fine, and then this thing crept up inside of me, a hunger that had nothing to do with food. I turned the television on and off. Rummaged through drawers and cabinets. Opened and closed the refrigerator. I wanted to run away from something, except I was tired and whatever chased me was supernatural; it wasn't possible to outrun it. Food was made of cardboard and music hit my ears like the sharpening of knives. The littlest things made me cry. A sad news story. A lost shoe. In short, I was starting to feel things again, and whether we want to admit it or not, feelings are just the thing that chronic users are trying to get away from.
I tell myself this time is different. I've already gone two days over what I intended and I feel like I don't miss it. On day 11, I found half a joint squirreled away in the bottom of a purse and I didn't even think about smoking it. I've been a vegetarian for years, but veganism is a whole other level of do-gooding and it makes me feel like a superhero. Turns out that quitting drinking is actually way harder than quitting pot. Without alcohol, the Golden Rose is just a glowing red room full of morons. On day 12, I decide that I've proven my point and drink whiskey at the bar, and it's so fun! I think I'm getting a taste of how the other half lives.
On the morning of day 13, I wake up and the bottom right part of my gums is throbbing. There's always been this weird thing going on inside my mouth. Either I was born without wisdom teeth or they just haven't grown in yet, but I think one of them may have decided to poke its way through this morning. I think it might be a metaphor for adulthood but I fail to see any beauty in it. It's incredibly painful. I know I said earlier that marijuana is a girl, but the voice in my head that tells me to smoke her sounds like an evil, raspy man. "Do it," he says. "You found that joint yesterday, remember? If you weren't planning on smoking, why didn't you just throw it away? Anyway, your mouth hurts. It's medicinal." I think he makes an excellent point, and without even really thinking about it, in an instant, I've gotten out of bed, torn open the joint and stuffed it in the cheap metal pipe that I also neglected to throw away.
But so it is with breakups, right? Who doesn't sleep with their ex at least once? It's true, my mouth feels better. And I hate myself a little, but mostly it's hard to feel much of anything. In the 12 days of abstaining I've lost some tolerance, and now I've turned myself into the village idiot. It's like I've been knocked over the head with a cartoon mallet and bluebirds are whizzing around, chirping, "Forget about everything, Molly. Nothing matters and nothing ever works out." I make myself get up and run errands anyway. I eat a vegetable burrito at El Diablo made by some sort of sorcerer. When I'm done, I want to go back to the counter and tell the man how talented he is, except I'm stoned and afraid of people. When I look out at the world the mountains seem like they're coming straight at me, and then they're far away.
I learn something terrible about myself. I'm a creature driven by habit and inner demons, and the happy ending I'm looking for doesn't exist. The raspy marijuana voice lays it out for me. He says that there are two ways out of this maze. You can backtrack the way you came in and live a life of sober repentance. Stop going to bars. Join a knitting circle. Never talk to Jack again. Or you can give up: Look around at your new house made of shrubbery. Here we do our damnedest to practice temperance, which is to say, we stumble often. We're not happy in the maze but we have a surefire way of dealing with sadness.
Blocked at every turn. Set the shrubs on fire and they'll just grow back.
I come home a few hours later and I'm just about not high anymore. I think the wisdom tooth scare was a false alarm. Nothing seems to be poking through and my mouth no longer hurts. I smoke the rest of the bowl. A couple hours later I'm not high again. I scrape some resin out of the bowl and smoke some more. I'm not proud of that, but there it is. It's a very stupid afternoon.