I still remember the first time I smoked weed.
And I still remember the first time I got high.
Even though it sounds strange that two of these occasions did not happen at the same time but recalling back to them brings out a rather fuzzy and warm feeling than a panic attack or paranoid episode.
Unknowingly those puffs and pass I did, would change my life forever.
Growing up in South East Asia there was a certain social stigma around people who do drugs; hard and soft, but alcohol was a rite of passage for many and was socially accepted and praised to the verge of ludicrousy. You are a wimp if you can’t hold your liquor or considered lightweight and would end up being the butt of all jokes in the drinking circle. So the more you drink the more of a ‘man’ you are, and the more likely you’ll end up being an alcoholic by the time you hit 25.
I was never good with alcohol. But as peer pressure closes down on you, you learn how to take that shot or down that glass of beer as friends cheered ‘bottoms up!’ while keeping a straight face and remembering to breathe again. Alcohol and puberty was a blur of slamming down drinks, getting smashed and doing it all over again.
As for cannabis, that’s a different story. Being brought up by textbooks, school’s drug-free activities ‘Just Say No’ and believing that people who take drugs will turn psychotic, became addicts and eventually die a painful death. But I was skeptical. Maybe it was my own curiosity knowing that some ‘substances’ can alter your state of mind, the same way that alcohol did, it was fun.
I was in high school when a close friend of my sister who was a year older than me that always talked and walked funny caught my eye, he was genuine and cool, at least that was how my 14 year-old-self perceived him. Whenever we pass by each other down the corridor we would always stop to chat about hip-hop, tattoos and eventually weed.
‘I’ll hit you up with some good weed lil homie’, he replied as I told him I never smoked. A day later he gave me a small crumpled up piece of foil that had an unusual smell, it was like dry grass but much stronger. ‘Mix it up with tobacco and just fly high’, he said as we shook hands and I was set off on a journey that would change my life forever.