I fear I may have wasted my stoner years. Formative years they were, but now I question how I chose to spend those years traipsing through the suburban landscape of my hometown. I probably should have been snowboarding.
This was weighing on my mind as I was waiting to pick up my season's pass. It was the day before Whistler Mountain was set to open and I was being herded through the maze at Whistler Blackcomb guest services, alongside three-dozen shred heads. About 95 per cent of them were in their early 20s and all of them, it was clear, lived in Whistler for one reason — to play.
Now, I know a marijuana enthusiast when I see one. That loose, earthy demeanor. The liberal use of words like "dude," "stoked" and assorted non-words that will eventually be eradicated once they (if they) enter the professional workforce. The fact they seemed to be enjoying the act of queuing up, which, to me, is the most sobering of all activities.
I became wistful then, waiting in that line. For a few months now, I've been nostalgic for the years between 17 and 20. They were good years, better than childhood in some ways, since I had many of the perks of adulthood while functioning, for all practical purposes, as a child: my parents housed me and fed me; I had no car payments, phone bills, or whatever, tethered to my wallet; I lived off of candy and Big Macs; and my daily excursions into THC-obliteration kept me in a state of passive, childlike wonder. I worked three days a week as a grocery store cashier, pink-eyed and loving it. I made the $300 a week and spent all of it on Beatles records and ganja.
Those were formative years, as I say, and I wouldn't be who I am without them. It's vital for the development of a young person to do absolutely nothing for a year or so. Life is long and I knew, even at 17, that there was no sense in rushing into it. It was important for me to skirt responsibility, to explore and consider my personal development up until that point in order to move forward toward the future in a way that was meaningful and most suitable. Pot kept me entertained and, now I see, pacified.
My parents were good about those years, holding out hope that I'd eventually get my life together (and I have). But as any dweller of the suburban landscape can attest, there's always a dramatic sense of missing out on something, like there's a world of pleasure beyond the baseball diamonds, parkades and shopping malls that I'd frequent. The glassy, gleeful eyes of 20-year-old shred head are a signpost for how I could better have used my time. I was already a bum — I might as well have been a ski bum.
But I know that in being afraid of time wasted, I'm really just afraid of letting go of my youth. I'm 27, turning 28. I'm not an old man, I know, but 28 harkens a new era: childhood is officially a memory and youth is ever fleeting. Adulthood, with all its pros and cons, with all its responsibilities and perks, is my new reality. Growing old is weird and I don't need any entheogenic plant to tell me that.
But about a month ago, I made a carefully considered life change: I was going to smoke more dope. I'd all but cut it out for about four years and in the daily grind of my professional life I had been missing the headiness and, well, laziness of late teens.
So I got real bloody stoned, and then I got paranoid and weird. Marijuana, it was clear to me then, ain't what it used to be. It does a masterful job of magnifying a person's current state of mind, and when you're broke, with a full-time job and bills to pay...well, maybe magnification isn't necessary. In attempting to regain my youth I wound up worried sick about my present.
So, yeah, missing the hazy days of my youth, I was feeling wistful among the dozens of (what I assumed to be) carefree potheads waiting at Whistler Blackcomb guest services. After I left, I went to the grocery store. The check out clerk was a young man, in his early 20s. He had the Zig Zag logo tattooed on his inner forearm. I felt a pang of fraternalism for this young man, for I too was a young, stoned grocery store cashier.
Then I went home, made myself a salad, steeped a cup of tea and watched an episode of Jeopardy!