Recently I visited Amsterdam. It was the first time I had ever been and I was incredibly excited. I was excited for many reasons, but there was one that stood above the rest. I was finally going to try weed for the first time. My heroes in literature, in music, in comedy, they had all experienced it and spoke of its eye opening qualities. It was something I wanted to experience. This was my mission.
I always imagined my first time would be very romantic. I’d be in an intimate venue probably listening to jazz with people who wore quirky hats and said things like, “I’ve just got back from a really meaningful backpacking experience in Peru.” I would be taken to a place in my mind I’d never been and the whole experience would fill me with wisdom that I could pass on to future generations. It was going to be a pivotal moment in my ordinary life.
That didn’t happen.
What did happen was this. I entered a pub. The pub was the type of pub that would have scared the sober me. It was full of heavy metal types. Leather jackets everywhere. On the walls it was decorated with framed art that depicted the Devil riding motorbikes and putting his middle fingers up at anyone who paid him the slightest bit of attention. But I wasn’t sober. I was far from sober and I was determined that this was my moment.
As I made my way to the bar with my money in hand, panic began to set in. How do you even order weed? What words do you say and in what order? In my head I nervously practiced my lines.
“Can I have some weed please, sir?”
“One of your finest strains of marijuana, squire!”
“One weed for me. Keep the change!”
I was out of my depth and was going to be laughed at.
I waited patiently in the queue. Not knowing what was about to come out of my stupid mouth, when out of nowhere, a hand landed on my shoulder. It was a man I had never met before and he was speaking in a language my drunk mind couldn’t pin down to anywhere on earth. He seemed happy, patting me on my head a few times and laughing. He probably sensed that I didn’t belong there. After a few moments of nodding back awkwardly he offered me something – incredibly it was weed! This god-like man had saved my life. I took it from his hand and inhaled before I had the chance to chicken out. I did this a few times. Holding back my coughs and trying to look as cool as I possibly could in front of this friendly foreign man.
Standing there, I waited. I didn’t know what I was waiting for, but regardless I waited. Nothing was happening. I continued to wait. Where was this inner peace? Where was this enlightenment? I waited some more, but to no avail. This great fountain of knowledge and wisdom and peace that I expected to rain upon me was nowhere to be seen. Instead I just felt nervous. What if I had done it wrong? What if I pass out? Why am I sweating?!
I began to breath heavily. I was like Pablo Escobar with anxiety issues.
“HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN I’M HIGH?!” I screamed directly into his face.
He looked back at me with the expression that only two people who don’t share the same language can give each other. A smile, but a smile with eyes that radiated confusion. I saw this as my cue to leave him.
Tentatively, I made my way out of that pub and into the Amsterdam night. My first experience with weed was over. I had completed my mission. Was it the personal transforming experience I’d hoped it would be? No. Did I feel like I was about to vomit as a mixture of nerves, alcohol and weed mixed around my tired body? Yes.
There are no lessons to learn from this. Other than perhaps, if you’re looking for a transcending experience, it’s probably best not to do it in the early hours of the morning on your own in a rock bar in Amsterdam