Casting the final “stone.”

Two months ago I was off to go do some on-scene reporting and I decided to take our intern with me for the experience. When he got into my car he pointed at a small silver cilinder and became very excited, asking if it was what he thought it was.

It wasn’t. I could tell he thought it was a grinder — it was actually a tin of Green Beaver hand balm (side note: it is the most amazing product for dry/chapped/chafed skin).

That lead to the always-uncomfortable conversation about why I don’t — or rather, no longer — smoke pot.

Yes, I was once a stoner. Like more than one-quarter of Canadian teenagers, I had tried pot several times in high school. By the time I went to university I had given it up, although I was never that committed to in the first place.

That all changed when I met the guy I dated for the latter half of university. I had just come out of a relationship in which I had turned every situation into an argument, so my knee-jerk reaction was to laud and endorse every decision this guy made. He happened to be quite the “stoner,” and he was, without question, pretty into it — if the “weedsmoking” and “Free Marc [Emery]” posters on his walls weren’t an indication, the fact that he wouldn’t stop talking about pot certainly was.

So I took up the activity again, and suddenly my life was saturated in it. My favourite activities became doing other activities, but high. Making a blanket fort while high. Playing video games while high. It became a thing to bond over, and I made friends simply through our one shared interest. I found myself attending lacklustre political demonstrations on the steps of our Conservative MP’s office and, of course, celebrating 4/20. I was proud of who I was and of what I did, even if my friends didn’t agree with it.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend verbalized something that I realized perhaps I was being a little foolish. He admitted with conviction that once he knew someone smoked pot, he immediately liked them more. “How silly and shallow,” I thought — even though I realized that I had held the same philosophy.

It was also difficult for me to keep from rolling my eyes when he would use words like “oppression” to describe the state of people who were not allowed to smoke pot, yet proceed to not really care all that much about the rights of trans* people, abortion rights or the struggles of Aboriginal Canadians.

Eighteen months after we started dating, he moved away and I limited my smoking to weekends when he was there, though truthfully I didn’t really feel like doing it all that much.

A catalyst came around New Years, when I had been very sick and sore. I had just gone off the pill, which was causing depression, but without it my cramps were enough to keep me curled up in a ball for days. My boyfriend offered to make me pot-infused hot chocolate. It was a nice deed, but inside I wanted to cry — “No, I don’t want pot hot chocolate, I just want you to massage my back and lie here with me!”

The pot chocolate hit me like a ton of bricks and for the rest of the afternoon I was exhausted yet unable to sleep, distracted by the most insignificant things. My boyfriend’s solution? “Let’s go bowling.” On the way to the bowling alley, my boyfriend, who denied being too high, missed our turn and pulled a sharp, fast U-turn that briefly caused me to fear for my life. I felt angry at him, though I couldn’t really verbalize why — even if I wanted to, I was far from articulate.

After that I started to realize two things: one, that pot was not really right for me, and two, that one can’t build an identity around being a “stoner.”

I never consciously “quit” smoking pot, but I started turning it down until it became known that “Bree didn’t smoke.” It took awhile before I started saying it myself, but now I readily identify as someone who does not smoke pot.

It’s difficult to express where I stand on pot at this point. On one hand I absolutely do believe it should be legalized, but in terms of priorities for our government I don’t think it’s a tragedy if they take their time getting to it. I’m not any less likely to be friends with someone who smokes — being in a creative field, naturally I’m going to come across plenty of people who do — but I probably won’t want to be around when they start to go off on their rants about how pot just makes people more laid back and how such-and-such a movie is so much better once you’ve seen it high.

Would I say I’ve “out-grown” pot? No, I think there are plenty of mature, functional adults who enjoy a good bowl. But I’ve moved past that stage of my life, and as much as I told myself I would still care, it’s undeniably difficult to.

Advertisements

On friends, enemies, winning and sweet, sweet vengeance.

Allow me to be cliché for a moment — in high school I was not necessarily popular, but well-liked.

Being well-liked was undeniably as a result of my kindness to others; people could fault me for being somewhat annoying, clumsy and almost always socially awkward (on a good day, I make Michael Cera look like Russell Brand) but they knew me as the person who’d gladly give them a ride home, listen to their stories, laugh at their jokes and tell them their clothes were cool. I say that not as a martyr — they were just as good to me as I was to them. My friends were and still are true, as is evidenced by how many of my high school comrades attended my recent 24th birthday celebrations (thanks again for the Yoda mug, guys)!

What I’m trying to say is, I’ve gotten spoiled in that I’ve not had much experience with being genuinely disliked.

Fast-forward to university — my kindness and patience was now well-coupled with a slightly more mature and eloquent presence, so I continued my pattern of being well-received in most groups. Was I at the bar partying and downing colourful shots every Thursday, Friday and Saturday? Nope. But that can be chalked up to choice.

When I started volunteering for my school paper, my section editor took notice of my talent almost immediately. We formed a strong student-mentor relationship — an odd pairing considering I was actually older than him. But his writing skill was years beyond that of anyone else his age and experience level, and I was eager to learn from him. When he nominated me for more of a leadership role, subsequently integrating me into the paper’s editorial board, I gladly accepted.

But as much as he was an excellent mentor, we never fully became friends. I felt extremely intimidated around this group of editors — a feeling I had rarely if ever felt around people, let alone those my own age, in my life. While I’m sure he felt slightly responsible for me after introducing me to the group in the beginning, he quickly tired of my awkward “charm” and his annoyance with me became blatantly obvious.

It was more obvious in group situations than one-on-one. One-on-one, our conversations were intelligent and sophisticated, and we taught each other a good amount. Each time we’d speak I’d kid myself into thinking that our in-group dynamic would change, but it never did.

It didn’t help that his significant other was our boss the following year, when he and I were technically equals. Suddenly, matters that were supposed to be confidential between my boss and I were known by him as well, which resulted in some pretty embarrassing moments for me — passive-aggressive social media statuses undeniably directed at me, under-the-breath comments at meetings about matters that were supposed to have remained confidential. Suddenly it was easy for him to be single me out, and I didn’t have the deep-rooted friendship with the other editors that he did, so my support was virtually non-existent.

The subtle-but-present aggression directed toward me not only on by him but also his partner was contagious in the sense that my co-editors allowed it to happen without protest, despite being aware of it. I was even, at one point, called into a meeting with the editor-in-chief (you know, the one who had been directing aggression toward me) and the president of the parent company who both made me feel like my alienation was my own fault, and with my EIC present I felt unable to tell the president what was really going on.

I have always had issues with anxiety, but I have had those issues under control for a long time. But in my final year of university, facing a demanding academic and extracurricular schedule, money problems, issues with roommates and now witnessing as my one solace — writing — became plagued by alienation and psychological torture, I was a ticking timebomb. I was ready to quit every other week, and the pressure affected almost every other facet of my life.

Fast-forward just over a year — I am sitting at the desk in my quaint little office that I share with my fellow news editor, Nick. I am on salary with a Toronto magazine publisher. I am on a pretty personal basis with Toronto city councillors. I have the respect of people older and more experienced than me. All of this should be validation that I am not the horrible writer — or the socially-inept miscreant — I was made to believe that I was. And yet I still feel a hollow sadness that I never did impress the person who was just never able to like me.

As a recovering nerd, my ultimate dream has often been to bump into my former tormentors — maybe on a busy street or at a bar — and happily chirp about how well things are going for me at this point. I know now that very few of us former editors are working as legitimate journalists, and he is one of the ones who found work as a writer but not of the journalistic variety. When I consider this, it should fill me with pride, but instead it makes me feel petty.

The odds of this hypothetical scenario occurring are low anyway, but let’s just pretend that someday soon I will bump into him and regale him with my tales of Real Exciting Grown-Up Journalism over bitter espresso. Would the news of my exciting new career make him realize that he had been wrong about me all along? If I recall, he never doubted my abilities as a writer. If him knowing how many people showed up at my birthday party, would he care? Not in the slightest. He wouldn’t have never wanted to show up anyway.

They say that the best revenge is living well, but to me the best revenge does not exist. If one is still fixated on revenge, then one is not a winner. I do not mean “winner” in the sense that we are always engaged in a battle with our enemies — rather, we are always engaged in a battle against ourselves. If there is anyone I can win against, it is myself.

I am still working on letting go how he and his partner made me feel, and it may take awhile yet — I never claimed to be a big person, only someone who attempts to be so. But as slow as the process is, I can feel myself slowly becoming more and more free of his judgment.