High on life

My keys were still stuffed securely against my ribs. My phone still played music. Anxiously, I patted myself down from the chairlift. Something was missing. I spotted it. The small zipper on my right thigh was slightly open. “Shit.”

With two frozen fingers, I probed the wallet pocket. My license and credit card were still there. So was my earbud case. Hell, even my chap stick. It seemed everything was accounted for. "But wait, wasn't there something else?" "Of course, the pen!"

"Well, if you're going to throw it away..." I'd accepted it with reluctance, from a friend who'd come to visit from out of state. I'd purchased them in the past, and I was aware of the dangers of their convenience.

No, I’m not exactly what you'd call a stoner. At least I hope not. But I have taken advantage of the liberal Colorado laws with regularity. Rarely ever more than one breathe. I see small doses of THC as a means of clarity. More akin to a cup of coffee than a shot of whiskey.

Unlike in past stints, this winter, I've taken several breaks. Most recently, I avoided any intoxicants for three weeks.

But last week, while rummaging through my sock drawer, I felt the cool metal pen. I inhaled. I released. The feeling was mild. Only recognizable because we'd met previously. Things were a little clearer. I was more observant than usual.

The next day, I hit it again. The third day marked a trend. I couldn't come up with a reason not to, so I did it again. And again. And again.

On the lift, in the blaring Summit County sun, I couldn't see my breathe. "Is this thing frozen?" I thought. I couldn't tell if it was working. Uncharacteristically, I inhaled several times. As we unloaded the chair, it hit me. I'd taken too many. I felt the anxiety.

On the way back up, I realized it was gone. But I was far from upset. Instead, I laughed at how at times life gives us signs. In just thirteen days, I leave Summit County. Four days after that, I board a flight to Japan.

In Asia I won't be able to get a pen or any other form of cannabis. But that's quite alright. Because you see, when you travel, your eyes are open, as is your mind. When you escape the comforts of a routine, in a way, life gets simpler. There's no time to think about "what ifs" or "whens". Your body’s just trying to figure out how to find the essentials and survive.

When you're on the road, you meet people, and interact outside. There's no time to sit around and get lost in your own mind. When you're challenging yourself, everyday becomes an eternity. At the smallest successes, like finding your way in a foreign subway, filling your stomach with a piping hot bowl of foreign cuisine, or even sharing a smile on some foreign street, you feel deep satisfaction inside.  

I’m an addict. I want it daily. I get this urge to experience it, that I’ll hopefully never satisfy. At home, I find this mellow baseline.

When I travel, it’s not all happy. There’re valleys, and canyons, who’s depths at times make me question why. Oh, but the peaks. There’s no feeling quite like being tuned in to the highs of life.