Houston We have a Problem

So here I sit, the Monday after resigning from the best job I have ever had and one that most would die for.

I have been looking forward to this moment for weeks now, family is away for a few days in Massachusetts, having time off from spring break. Paula and I agreed, really we agreed, that it would be good for me to have a couple days to myself and unwind. I set my alarm for 8 a.m. to be sure and capture the totality of my new found freedom, no family to deal with, no markets to follow and really just expecting not to have a worry in the world.

I am awoken precisely at 8 a.m. by my alarm clock which I had placed in the sitting room off of the bed room the night before just to be sure I would get out of bed, I immediately feel as if it is Xmas morning and once I get to my alarm clock New Years Eve as well. There sitting on the desk is the biggest, fattest joint I rolled for myself the night before.

After turning off the alarm and finally wiping the shit eating grin off my face I make the trek down to the kitchen as I light up. My mission: Coffee. Suddenly I am hit with the fact that my plan was not perfect, I didn’t set the timer on the coffee so that it was ready, oh well, I turn it on.

Grabbing my jacket as I walk out the door, after almost walking out in just my boxers, I start the 100 yard walk to the bottom of my driveway to fetch the morning paper, smoking every step of the way there and back.

Perfect timing, the coffee is done and so is my joint, at this point it does hit me that I just smoked a lot in a real short amount of time but whatever, today is my day. I’m hungry and lazy, and lazy wins so I pour a cup of coffee and read the paper, when I say paper I mean the sports page of The Boston Globe. Looking out the window at the beautiful spring day I am imagining myself as Cinderalla, the animated version, being dressed and tended to by the birds and forest creatures. Weird I know but at this point I am incredibly high and I had just watched it the night before with my daughter.

The first crack in my perfect day appears. As I get up to pour some more coffee and head to the shower I get a glimpse of the wine room off the kitchen, my least favorite room in the house. Why? Because it is really the pile room, it is where mail goes to die a slow death in disorganized piles, where unfolded clean clothes sit in piles to sit for days until they are thrown back in to the laundry, where anything that hasn’t found a place gets put to be dealt with at some other time, or more likely not at all.

That room is the bane of my existence, the root cause of all my problems, the monster under my bed. Now the shit eating grin comes back as I walk to the garage and grab the biggest trash can I have and roll it into the Pile room. Without a thought that anything in there might be worth keeping I take 30 seconds to pick up anything and everything that isn’t in a cabinet and toss it in the trash. Still wearing my shit eating grin I bring the trash back out to the garage and laugh a little as it thuds heavily on the ground. As I walk by the now aptly named wine room I pause to admire my handiwork and my day is back on track

Walking back upstairs to the shower I look around at my surroundings. A gorgeous and huge, even by Ridgefield standards, professionally decorated mini-mansion. At that moment it hits me, why am I leaving? Luckily before I think too hard I arrive at my favorite place in the house – the shower. Everyone enjoys a good shower, me especially and exceptionally so given how high I am, but this is no normal shower. The shower itself is a 6×6 room beautifully tiled in gorgeous white and black subway tiles with stairs to step down about 8 inches into. But there is more: on the ceiling is a waterfall spigot that pours out 6-8 different streams of water at absolute perfect pressure and if I am so inclined, and I always am, there is also 2 separate jets an all 4 walls, yes a total of 8, that can be turned on in any combination. On this day, just like every other day, I hit the button to turn on all 8.

I get in and instantly I am transported to paradise, taking a shower has really become more like a vacation. My mind wanders back to when I was growing up and my dad would bang on the door reminding me not to use all the hot water and I make a mental note to make sure he uses this shower if he visits before I leave. The thought of leaving once again starts drifting back in my consciousness but the lure of sitting on my front deck in my rocking chair, with a fresh cup of coffee and a freshly packed bong pushes it away.

Quickly I say goodbye to my shower, dry off, and throw on a pair of boxers and gym shorts, eschewing a shirt since I have no neighbors within a 100 yards of me and dammit it’s my day. As I am leaving my room I see my humidor out of the corner of my eye and grab my first and only Cuban cigar, I have been saving it for a special occasion, then hurry out only to twirl, yep a 540, back to grab the cigar cutter.

Fresh cup of coffee in hand, cigar and cutter in my pocket and the newest treasure I have found, 2 pieces of meatball pizza I stumbled onto in the fridge, I emerge on my front porch armed once again with a shit eating smile and take my place in my chair, happier than I have been in a long time. I sit and immediately realize 3 things: I need to pull a table up next to me to place my treasures on, I need to find a notepad and pen, and I forgot the bong and a lighter. Somehow finding the energy reserves to accomplish these daunting tasks I glide into my office and locate a pad and pen, then to the media room in the basement where I gently remove my Doors poster revealing a small door that I violently open. Throwing aside the unimportant things like bank statements, birth certificates, contracts, jewelry and my secret cash stash I get to what I came for and realize I have a big decision to make. The 3 chambered bong that hits real smooth and is much less harsh or “Big Dick”, a 12 inch straight up and down tube that looks like it has 15 years of bong resin built up inside of it, because it does, needs to be cleaned and has the extra benefit of causing a painful and relentless cough after every hit. Fuck it, the 3 chambered bong is for pussies and the lack of oxygen from coughing makes me feel higher anyway, so “Big Dick” it is. Having two separate bags of pot I am once again looking at a dilemma. One bag I consider to be more of a “performance” weed and the other more of a “drool on the couch and hopefully remember how to operate the TV “ vintage. My old friend shit eating grin joins the party as I pour one bag into the other then take a little of each variety and make a salad in the now empty bag, I didn’t almost get a perfect score on my SAT’s for nothing, I’m wicked smart.

Armed with “Big Dick”, my notepad and pen, and my bag of marijuana salad I float out of the room, back up the stairs and to the front porch amazed and worn out by my 5 minutes of focus and motivation. Alas I should have moved the table over to my chair first. I gingerly bend down, my back always hurts so sudden leaning could produce unwanted pain, place more of my treasures on the maple floor of the porch next to the chair, gently take the pizza off the chair and put next to it, place the cigar gently in my pocket and just as gingerly straighten up. Once the small table is in place next to me I place the bong, pot, cigar, and stack the pizza next to them while leaving the pen and pad on the floor within reach from a seated position.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy. I smile as I look at my set up, impressed with my tenacity in accomplishing so much, and sit back with a heavy sigh of contentment. Fuck! I can’t reach my coffee. Trying to move it with my mind and committing 100% to the fact it can be done I am once again hit with my childhood disappointment of failing in what seems like such a basic task. Upset I failed and even more upset I have to move I rock forward aggressively and catapult myself out of my chair. Woops. Too fast. I cling to the railing as I fight the urge to pass out from getting up so suddenly, it is not my first dance with this affliction though and once again I win, passing out 30- me 3.

As I go to grab the coffee it hits me that I am going to want something cold. This time I’ll be prepared. I remove the other table from it’s two year resting place and upset the beetle and bug population established beneath it, perch the table on the vacant side of my chair and place my coffee on it. Using the twirl move I perfected earlier, although only a 270 this time, I open the door walk to the fridge and without thinking grab the coke and the orange juice and set them on the counter. As I look for the biggest glasses I can find I realize I don’t need a glass and that could just complicate things later so I shut the cabinet, grab the OJ, tuck the coke under my arm and grab the pot of coffee. I never did figure out how to juggle but anyone watching me now wouldn’t know it. As I approach the front door and without breaking stride, I curl the oj carton under my arm next to the coke, seamlessly switch the coffee pot into my now unoccupied left hand and open the front door.

Cramming my drinks on the former home of the beetles I once again sit down. Man is my mouth dry. The orange juice is calling me so I grab and twist off the top and am disheartened to see it is brand new and I have one more step to perform. Ripping of the tab as I bring the carton to my lips I then take aggressive gulps of this nectar of the gods and succeed in dripping it down my face and onto my chest. Reaching to put the OJ back on the table I contemplate if having a shirt on would have been better given the drippage. Whatever. “Big Dick” is calling me and I’ve earned it. He practically jumps on my lap, resting on my decidedly average dick while I grab my marijuana salad and pack the bowl. After a few minutes of throat torture and coughing fits I place “Big Dick” back on the table mad at what he just did to me and also that none of me will ever be refereed to as “Big Dick”.

I’ve done it. I planned my morning and worked my plan. As I rock gently I come to a sudden and traumatic realization, there is actually such a thing as being to high and right past that is where I am. How did this happen? I struggle to fight off every physical and mental demon attacking me as I contemplate how this came to be. It’s only 8:45. I inhaled one of the fattest joints I have ever rolled and coughed my way through a bowl on Big Dick, which obviously is extremely large. Even wicked morons can do well on the SAT.

Leaning my head back, I close my eyes and rock slowly focusing on the silent noises around me and embracing every gentle breeze. After what seems like an hour, but was really only 10 minutes, I open my eyes to see if the attack is still under way. I see the speaker. My porch is no normal porch, of course not I’m a big time power trader. It starts halfway around the front of the house and wraps around the entire back of the house like a snake. A roof covers the whole front and half the back of the porch and it juts out about 6 feet in front then twice that on side and in the back. That alone would make it awesome but when I moved in I knew it could be awesomer.

So I installed speakers 4 feet apart right under the roof all the way around. Great idea. Problem is I did it myself, to say the speakers worked intermittently would be generous. Of course that little nugget didn’t occur to me as I got up once again, slower this time, to get the remote so I could turn it on.

Miraculously when I go inside to grab the remote it is right where it is supposed to be. Pushing the button to turn on the stereo and the outside speakers it occurs to me that I don’t want the radio so I push the CD option and hope I have a good selection in my state of the art 10 disc changer. Overjoyed when Led Zeppelins “tangerine” comes on I head back to my throne. It might be worth mentioning the inside of the house was wired by a professional.

Soon after sitting I remembered that little fact when I can not hear the sweet sounds of Robert plant emanating from the little box above me. Having experienced this before I know it is just a loose wire and that if I jiggle that speaker it will probably come to life.

It’s funny how the most innocent and little decisions can make the hugest impact on your life. Or how a single person can change everything and you don’t remember how to live a life without them or suddenly forget they are even there. What if I had a professional install those outside speakers? What if I just accepted the fact I could hear the music just fine? Would I have met him?

My next move was clear to me, I needed to make that speaker work, not fix it for good but just for now. I needed to jiggle it. But how? Get a ladder? Good idea. Reach up with a broom? Good idea. Stand up on a rocking chair so I could barely reach it balancing like a one legged gymnast on the balance beam while also being surrounded by 2 tables completed covered with all of my treasure? Yep that’s the one. Proving once again that SAT scores mean nothing, that was my choice. That way I didn’t have to go get a broom or a ladder.

Did I mention that my chair had a window behind it? It was a couple feet away so if you are gently rocking its not even close so the thought never entered my mind, even as I slid the chair back some to get to the speaker. And my earlier epiphany that you could be too high and that I was past that didn’t occur to me either.

Getting up slowly to prevent having to ward off passing out again, and still thinking I was intelligent, then, as mentioned, sliding the chair back I prepared to mount. Assessing the situation and still wearing nothing but shorts and orange juice I concluded I just need to put one foot on as I was facing the chair and the house, put my hand on the armrest and bring my other foot up in line with the first and just slowly stand up, reach up and jiggle. It worked! Except I couldn’t quite reach it, so close, maybe half an inch. Instictively, I really didn’t want to get a ladder or a broom, my right foot went on the arm rest as I sort of made a lunge at the speaker, and then the shit hit the fan. When I lunged my weight shifted to the foot on the armrest which cause the chair to rock back to far and breaking the window while simultaneously wedging itself under part of the wooden tic tac toe slats all northeast windows have. On the initial rock back I managed to ride that chair, unfortunately when it didn’t rock back I flew forward and my only option was to try and catch myself with my right hand against the house while maintaining my balance. As my good friend once said after we got caught stealing a flag to the cop that caught us, “What are we fucking acrobats?”. At 22 the answer to that was no and at 37 the answer was fuck no. My right foot slipped, my ass hit the armchair, the table went careening away spilling my treasures across the deck and I fell hard on the deck shoulders first and finally came to rest with my shoulders and head on the deck, my ass on the edge of the chair and my feet up in the air.

After taking a mental inventory and apparently being injury free, and instead of being happy to escape and maybe even embrace the humor in it all, I blamed the chair. Fucking chair. So I slid back to escape this monster and once I was almost clear I kicked it. With my bare foot. Instantly my foot howled at me but quickly was forgotten as “Big Dick” emptied himself all over my decidedly average dick after crashing on the chair, soon to be followed by the orange juice I forgot to put the cap on.

It’s 9:15. So long ago I was happy with my fatty, my coffee, my shower. Now I lay on my deck staring through a broken window, covered in bong water and orange juice. Seeing no humor in it and still being to high, I got up, picked up Big Dick and walked to the back of the porch and threw him in my pond. Picked up everything else and threw it away, deciding to deal with the window later but picking up the glass. Sitting back down in the chair I picked up the pad and pen, which had somehow stayed dry and clean through the battle. It was then that my day got bad.

I have always been a reader and come from a family of readers. Through high school and college I always wrote well when I had to and had many teachers and friends and family encourage me to write more and explore my “gift” as they put it. Writing just never interested me and besides that was the realm of my dad and sister. At this moment, sitting on the porch, for the first time I felt the urge to write. Clueless as to what to write about or how to get started I sat there staring at he pad for a while. Looking up when I heard a noise I watched absently as a deer meandered across my lawn taking no notice of my presence.

Right then and maybe for the first time ever I began to take a mental inventory of myself and although I knew the start of my morning was funny and deserved and really not that big of a deal, a numbness had settled over me and I felt no humor or joy and maybe more importantly couldn’t imagine ever feeling humor or joy again.

Looking down I saw and felt and smelled the fowl mixture of bong water on my shorts and down my legs. My belly protruding out over my waist line far enough that I could have rest a drink on it. When did I get fat? The smell and the dampness. As hard as it seems, is how I feel. It was spreading over and consuming me Swallowing me whole and forcing me to understand that everything had just changed, my world was not the same, and if I didn’t fight it never would be. I am always up for a fight, I take pride in the effort and have always chosen to get my ass kicked while giving it everything I had before walking away even from a fight I could not win. Right now it is comfortable giving up, just letting my mind and soul be taken away.

I always like to meet new people. I’m Matt. How are you? What’s your name? You’re my dark passenger? That’s strange but whatever. Have a seat. Lets talk for a bit.