Shorty was a 6’5”, buzz-cut, Wisconsin native, who always wore army fatigues and shooting glasses. He lived in a ranch-style house across the street from the soon-to-be-defunct Stapleton Airport in Denver. He chose this gang-infested, jet-fuel-smelling neighborhood because it was a discreet locale for his weed-growing operation.
Shorty had a massive hydroponic setup with 5 x 1K watt high-pressure-sodium lights in his flowering room and an even bigger vegging room with rows of florescent lights. He had 3 x 5’ clone mothers. Because of the massive amounts of juice the lights used, the rest of the house’s electricity expenditures were limited to a couple bare lightbulbs and a discman with portable speakers. No fridge, no TV. Shorty spent his days tending his crop, listening to Little Feet on the discman and pulling hits from his resin-caked bong.
I was one of 2 people who knew where he lived. I made weekly pilgrimages to pick up his fresh and uncured buds. While impressive to look at fresh pot, curing it, particularly when I was living with my folks, was not a simple task. If there was not enough air, it will mold. If there’s too much air, it would become dry, harsh and brittle. It also smelled like a dead skunk.
As Shorty’s main distributer, I was one of Boulder’s most reliable sources of hydroponic weed, and though our relationship could be fraught, I felt quite blessed.
I wasn’t a kingpin. I sold weed to feed my habit. I needed the shit. My pre-weed life had been spent as a nervous turd, my waking hours spend wondering what people thought of me—was I dressed okay, do people like me, will I be successful, was I cool enough, smart enough, etc.? It’s not clear whether weed allowed me to let those things go or merely mute them. Either way, from the ages of 16-20, years largely spent high, I was able to cope. I was able to sleep. I was able to relax.
Dealing pot taught me some things too. I learned that the way to make sure things went smoothly was not to worry about them; it was to relax and lay low. One time I got pulled over by the police on my way to Shorty’s. I had $3K in small bills in the glove compartment where my registration was kept. I was able to calmly move the money, give the cop my registration and get a speeding ticket rather than a felony drug charge.
Another time Shorty unloaded 4 trash bags of freshly cut weed on me. I didn’t panic here either (much). We just unloaded the bags from his pickup into my apartment as if it were the most natural thing.
I haven’t smoked weed in almost 12 years. After a while, it started to amplify my insecurities rather than mute them. Yet my years of weed-smoking taught me many things. I learned that it’s possible to be relaxed in any situation. I stayed cool through some tense moments with Shorty, who’s chill, iry-vibe was replaced by an angry, violent one after he got into drinking, strippers and collecting guns. I stayed cool moving pounds of stinky weed throughout Boulder County. I stayed cool at high school, which had previously been a den of anxiety. I learned I could be relaxed anywhere.
I was thinking about this today because I have been consumed with future-related anxiety. How will I make money? Will I achieve the goals I set out for myself? What does the future hold? Will I ever pay that stupid health insurance bill?
Then I thought, “I did so many things that were real threats while high and didn’t worry. Today, I deal with perceived threats and am filled with anxiety. What gives?”
I have no desire to smoke weed, but I might ask myself how I might act high? Would I really give a shit? Would I really be so hot and bothered about growing up, being a responsible boyfriend, friend, citizen. Un-fucking-likely. This is not to promote apathy, which is often the flip-side of relaxation. I still want to unlock my potential. I still want to be the good guy. I just have to realize that tension and anxiety are not the ways to get there.