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When in Denver...

I can feel it! It starts off as a tingle all over your body, warm and relaxing. You can feel the force taking over, your body relaxing involuntarily. Your speech becomes slightly slurred as the jaws of your mouth relax, not wanting to open fully to effectively create speech. I can see how taking too much of this can make you “trip out”. Your senses become heightened. You can feel your nose hairs tingling. The vibrations in your ears; sounds are amplified but muffled. It’s difficult to adjust to the sounds in the room. Your own voice sounds inconsistent and abrasive. Your lips tingle, eyes droop, muscles seem to work individually. Listening to music, it sounds like songs are fading in and out of each other. You feel paranoid. Like everyone else can see how much it’s affecting you. There’s a social psychology theory about that, not the spotlight effect but something else…music sounds like it’s skipping beats. Your legs start tingling and want to do nothing other than extend and conform to the elasticity of the pool chairs. Senses seem to flip from one to the next; hearing, sight, touch. You can concentrate on only one at a time. In touch, things come into sight from your periphery; is that a human? Which person in the room is that? Where did they come from? Am I hallucinating? Is this what marijuana feels like? Then to touch, the tingles in your legs intensify, almost to a point where you feel you must oblige to the force acting on them: one of relaxation. You feel like you’re laughing uncontrollably. And for someone who likes being in control, it’s a challenging sensation. It’s difficult to follow a train of thought. Much like your senses bounce from one to the next, so too do your thoughts. Following a cohesive thought becomes the greatest present challenge. The ache in my tooth, my implanted one, seems to ember into a burning pain, but only when attention is constricted to it. Laughs appear more genuine and longer-lasting. People on television sound like they’re all speaking in foreign accents. Even the hairs in your ears are relaxing and becoming lazy with their ability to hear. Your brain becomes lazy too, forgetting things that have just happened.

Sarah and Bridget were just arguing over two and a half and one and a half and one that is, 2.5 = 1.5+1. The argument seemed to continue for a lengthy period of time. Sammy is the only one in this room who hasn’t taken anything so her perception of this experience would be valuable. It’s seemingly impossible to multi task; your mind becomes so single-track minded. You tune into the tv and you can’t hear background noise or see in your periphery. The green text on my phone seems to flicker between green and brown. You can feel yourself wanting to laugh for no reason. Am I saying that because I feel that or because that’s what everyone describes this experience as? How much of what I’m experiencing has been pre-programmed into me to experience? About ten minutes ago, I had a small desire to go to the restroom. Now when I laugh and focus on it, I feel the pressure so heavily. Almost an uncontrollable need to pee…I just got up to pee because I was worried about what would happen if I didn’t. I don’t know how strongly weed affects the urinary system so I didn’t want to chance it. But peeing, what an experience! It felt like your bladder wasn’t deflating because the pressure never lessened, even as the urine poured freely. Towards the end it felt like I could feel my bladder retracting like a deflated water balloon. Sounds from just next to me appear to be coming off in the distance from a hallway that runs in the direction perpendicular to the direction it presently runs.

Despite being a first timer, I think I know my limit. It would obviously be easy to take more, especially as those very renowned “munchies” kick in. But, I still want to experience this seemingly lucid moment and be conscious enough to write about it. The feeling of hunger at first is nothing more than a consideration. A passing thought. It’s been five hours since our last meal. It’s been five hours…now all of a sudden that feeling of hunger escalates. I can be hungry again because it’s been five hours and this definitely isn’t the sensation of the “munchies”. How entertaining the way our brain tries to justify our actions!

I just had my roommate read my writing up until this point and after realising what I was experiencing, she seemingly started to treat me differently as though, “Oh yes, you’re saying this because you’re high.” I felt very aware of the environment and the reinforcement I was getting back. My calf cramped when I was putting on my converses and the pain was indescribable. Sharp. Shooting. Constricted. Hailey and I were talking about charley horses and she said a charley horse was confined only to a cramped calf, but my college teammates told me it was the equivalent of a bruised quad, a “corky” in Australian dialect. Apparently I wasn’t making any sense because Hailey kept looking at me with this dry smile as though I was the highest person she had ever met…I guess in this moment I kind of was. I feel like I can feel my acl too, that’s how sharp my senses feel.

Time is so jumbled. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow. I remember asking Gemma why all of a sudden it seemed like she was talking at ridiculously fast speeds. But I think it has more to do with my difficulty to accurately sense the passing of time. The weight of your decisions seem heavier. The enjoyment of your experiences are dependent on your decisions. But isn’t that the point of life? To be held accountable for your decisions?

Walking up stairs felt like being on a boat, the change of altitude, the swaying of your body. Life sickness. Muscles were heavy, knee pain was targeted and sharp. Did I twist my knee today? But walking back down the stairs, it felt like a never-ending staircase. Didn’t I just pass the third floor? Why are there so many stairs?

I’m fighting the urge to fall asleep, especially in this non-stimulating environment. Ironically I don’t feel like having any deep conversations. I feel ridiculously tired. Like I could float off to sleep. It’s a weird experience to be the only high person around other sober people because you feel so relaxed and stress free that you become seemingly perplexed as to why everyone else isn’t at peace. You feel the present moment so acutely which makes following stories increasingly difficult. You are living in the present moment with no care to the past.

Looking at your eyes in the mirror looks like you’re looking at someone else. Red eyes. Droopy eyelids. Pupils that don’t seem to be a part of you. What are you? Are you a permanent object? Or just a coagulation of coloured air particles, combined for the duration of your life but fragile enough to float away and reincarnate into another object?

Frequently you forget where you are and so you have to ask yourself, what country am I in? With two Aussies around me, sometimes you forget.

I can see how marijuana isn’t addictive but I think people become addicted to the feeling it conjures. Calmness. Peace. Tranquillity.

You feel like a bystander to your own life, watching everything as an observer and not taking any active role. And then you eventually float off into the dreamiest sleep of your life.

So this was my live, unedited recount of my experience with edibles, i.e. marijuana. Before this trip (pun intended), I had never taken any kind of recreational drug. I had smoked a few cigarettes and cigars, but nothing that significantly altered the functionality of my brain. Okay that’s a lie. I’ve had my fair share of alcohol and alcohol does just that because it is a drug (and perhaps the number one gateway drug in the world). Before we left for Colorado, I alluded to my team that I really wanted to try marijuana. Given that it is legal in Colorado and I am no longer a collegiate athlete getting drug tested, I thought it would be appropriate. I also mentioned it to my parents because I believe in honesty and transparency. And well, I like to tell stories so this is one I wanted to share with them.

After demolishing our opposition that Saturday morning 14-0, most of us decided we would take a “happy trip” that afternoon. There were two other individuals who had never tried marijuana before and they were both excited and willing to try it for the first time…when in Denver, do what the Denver kids do! So a couple of us headed to a cannabis store to purchase some supplies. And it definitely was not what I expected. Everything was extremely regulated and formal. The actual supplies were hidden in a room behind frosted glass so that only those who were approved to enter were allowed to see behind them. Our IDs were given and we were put in the system before being escorted around the store by a “tour guide”. It was like entering a fancy jewellery store. All of the products, the jewels, were encased in glass. This was definitely not the candy-store, free-for-all image I had formerly envisioned. I had thought that perhaps you might be able to mix-and-match different kinds of edibles; a gummy, a brownie, a cookie, a piece of chocolate - instead though, you had to buy a whole packet containing ten of each for $25. So essentially $2.50 for each “high” (because 10mg is the recommended serving size). Pretty affordable huh? Given one of my teammate’s no-sweet diet, we decided to share a container of “stroopwaffles” or caramel waffles as they are known to the American public. I thought this rather fitting given my Dutch heritage and the fact that my Oma gave these to me as a kid, obviously excluding the THC though. Despite the store falling short of my pre-conceived expectations, it was highly regulated which I believe is entirely necessary when such a drug is legalised.

So we got back to the hotel room and four of us took one each. We then decided to take another half meaning we consumed 15mg each. We then played the waiting game. Who would be affected first? And how would it affect each of us? We were told it takes about 40-45mins to hit and it seemed to hit Sarah first. We were all in the pool area when she seemed to display symptoms of catatonia manifested by stupor. I suspect I might have been hit next and my experiences were recalled above. I remember trying to read The Alchemist and I read the same paragraph probably about 30 times because each time I read it, I would be distracted by a thought that I wanted to write about. I recall feeling extremely self-conscious and aware of both Bridget and Carley constantly looking over to see how it was affecting everyone. As I mentioned, your senses become dulled but paradoxically heightened. Locating the origin of sounds with any sort of precision becomes seemingly impossible. I recall talking to Bridget and suddenly a sound that originated from across the room appeared to come from up high and to the right, to which I swiftly turned my head in that direction. Was I tripping out? Am I paranoid? Did Bridget notice? Is this the peak of my high or does it get worse? I was mildly concerned that it would get worse because I could feel the pull towards paranoia and uncontrollable behaviour and awareness. A place I really didn’t want to be.

We then proceeded to move up to one of the girl’s rooms and watch television. I was extremely introspective and in my zone as I decided to start writing on my laptop. Meanwhile, my teammates were giggling, sleeping, and arguing for seemingly extended periods of time. Sarah, the one displaying catatonia, wanted another waffle. It had been almost two hours and she said she wasn’t “feeling it”, but to all of us, it was evident she was. Bridget denied her one and instead, took another for herself. Now the argument of 2.5 does not equal 1.5 + 1 arose. What Bridget was arguing is that she didn’t take two and a half all at once, she took one and a half and then one so the effects were not experienced all at once. This is when I became extremely aware of the effects and realised I definitely did not need any more. I easily could have. But I wanted to remain as in control of myself as possible. Which, when on marijuana, is actually pretty difficult.

My Aussie friend from Adelaide who was coincidentally in Colorado at the same time as me, asked to hang out that night. Earlier in the day, it seemed like a great idea – I figured I would be sober enough to participate in meaningful conversations by the time we went out. I was wrong. As she described it, I was “baked”. I felt so introverted and didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything. I just wanted to write and keep to myself. The giggling fits people describe while high, I didn’t feel many of those urges. I felt starved of stimulation when I was taken away from my teammates and I constantly fought the desire to pass out.

So what did I learn from this experience? I learnt that the munchies are totally a thing. I felt like I could keep eating for days because the hunger drive in my brain appeared suppressed. I learnt that your senses become jumbled and your brain can only focus on one sense at any given time. Multi-tasking is not probable. Memory becomes hazy. Reality distorted. Background noise becomes muffled rather than something you might otherwise be able to make sense of. I also learnt that there are apparently two different strands of marijuana: sativa and indica. The former apparently being responsible for an uplifting and energetic experience, whereas the latter for a relaxing and calming experience, one that most of us experienced.

I’ve been asked by numerous people if I enjoyed the experience and I would have to say no. The two other teammates who had never done it before also agreed. The problem with edibles is that you have absolutely no control over their effects. When is it going to hit you? How is it going to hit you? How long is it going to last? All of these questions are pure mysteries. I backed up my Saturday’s high by getting drunk on the Sunday after being defeated in the championship. And the two experiences were polar opposites. With alcohol, you have so much more control over the effects and are more aware of when you’ve reached your “peak”. I could easily have kept drinking on Sunday, but I knew that I was in a good place. And it would last an hour or so. With marijuana, and specifically edibles, there is no indication of when you’ve hit your high or how long it will last, evidently because it’s in your digestive system rather than your bloodstream so it takes longer to process. Nonetheless, there were way too many uncontrollable factors involved in edibles and that is not something I enjoy. Alcohol also made me more outgoing and social, seemingly intensifying the “sober me”. Edibles, however, made me become the opposite; antisocial and overwhelmingly introspective. So to answer my Mum’s question of whether I would do it again, I’m undecided. Definitely not in Atlanta, but when in Denver…

Please note: The names in this post have been altered to protect the privacy of the individuals discussed.

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