Throughout the months my lover comes and visits my house. The trade brings him through, but he always finds a way to stay the night. His stays though unanalyzed evolve into the kind of time better described by the title “long distance boyfriend”, measured in part by the things he leaves at my house – a toothbrush, his dog’s leash, a bag of dirty socks which I launder and return to him. At a party I try to describe the humor of my long distance boyfriend’s Indian gifts to my household, but realize mid-description that the best parts must be left out. He leaves a scale at my house, always weighing something out, I end up with piles of shake around my living room, some usable, some not. I get treats and goodies and buds and hash balls and tiny vials of honey moonshine and gardener’s prize persimmons or asian pears - a taste of whatever he’s gotten from whatever random section of the populace tied together only by their usage. And then one day, as he leaves from stopping for barely a shower and a kiss – he smacks his forehead as he realizes he forgot to give a northern rancher a clone. Before he can turn his head to aim his sheepish look I sigh and put my hands out. He hands me the box from the new work boots he’s just purchased. I wave goodbye, bootbox under my arm.
I plan to shred it as he would have if I’d made him stay to do so. I am not an illegal drug manufacturer. I do not want business. I do not want risk. I do not want status. I’ve ripped apart many a budding stem before, helping the lover-cum-long distance boyfriend with trimming. Inside I open the box and there lies a poor bent plant in a plastic planter. My plant. My very own plant. An instant, brief perspective change impels action. This isn’t a clone, this isn’t evidence, this isn’t dolla billz. This isn’t an illegal drug manufacturing device, or an illegal drug container. This isn’t an illegal drug. It’s a plant, for fuck’s sake. A sweet, small, living, breathing, plant.
In a quick fury I find a spot in the corner of the yard, dig a hole, plop the plant in, fill in the dirt and give it a shovelful of compost. I don’t look back, continuing in the long tradition of not telling my roommate about cultivars that are frowned on by the law. Two weeks later I check on it after not being able to physically identify it from either window of the house on that side – both about fifteen feet away from where I planted it. When I approach I see it, amongst the jade green of the ivy it blends in almost perfectly but for hints of the undersides of the leaves which belie a lighter, grass-like green. It isn’t as light outside as this plant’s indoor genetics are used to, which makes the leaves droop and further blends it into the downturned leafy neighborhood.
It is beautiful.
I can’t dwell on it. What would the neighbors think of me standing in the corner of my yard staring down for no reason? Would they investigate what I was viewing? Would it bring attention? My exhaustion with the paranoia brought on by other manufacturing forays years prior replaces any human to plant interaction, reaction, action.
In another two weeks I am furious with my lover (demoted from the title of long distance boyfriend) for his selfishness and in a fit of frustration with him decide to check on the plant. The weather has been literally freezing and I’m almost pleased when I find the plant wilted, withered, frozen, whitened. My mind fleets to life, to the beating, pulsing rhythm of survival that unites this photosynthetic expression to my own respiratory goodness. To our eukaryotic solidarity, to our expert and related chemistries, to the power of the sun and water, to the hardiness of hemp. I teleport this sanity - this knowledge that the plant can be saved - far under the rage that infects my lover and me as a side effect and tear the plant from the ground and itself asunder all at once. Throwing pieces of it to all sides as it scrapes it’s resinous and miniscule thorn-like hairs against me in an inept attempt to fend off predators hundredths of my size and without opposable thumbs.
And, walking away, I commit worse than this frenzied murder by patting myself on the back for just having done something responsible. Grown-up. I would have had to tell the roommate eventually. It would have started budding. It would have smelled. It’s against federal law. I don’t have a prescription.
Then, to prove my essential human nature, in a step even worse than the justification – the self-recriminatory laud: I would have had to deal with the flowers and would not have had the self-control to have let them be, to let the plant’s lifecycle play out with no help from my particular brand of nature. Therefore I would have chopped it down eventually anyway. Push away the thoughts that recognize the difference between ceremoniously trimming the first plant that I’ve nannied and taking out my anger at a difficult to kill being on one that is easier. Pound myself into rightness. And as I walk away I settle on the inevitable death of the plant and myself as a reasonable explanation for just about any behavior on either of our parts: “It’s all the same, might as well just pack a vapor load and pretend it came off of that plant.”
Thus ends another lesson in how the lives of humans become a slave to this plant. Looking at the lover – a trumpet prodigy destined for greatness who succumbs to the plant, loses his passion, his hobby, architectural school drop-out because of burn-out, loses his sanity, his will to fit in, becomes a slave to his addiction, then a slave to the spread of the plant, then a slave to the propagation of the plant. Now his life plans demand the plant. Even when some other plan emerges - of money, of world change, of quitting his own usage – in the background he will always grow weed. The reasons might change (more money, just for friends, just for myself) but it will always be there, and right now it’s at the foreground as an option.
And every other tale of cannabis addiction has the same tone – a life dulled by the plant, and then enslaved, whether to support oneself or one’s habit or both. It’s such a slippery and common contract that I wonder what led to so many signatures. Perhaps gardening is such a nice form of slavery as compared to laboratory chemistry – the repetitive extraction, combination, distillation that other drug slaves endure - that the workforce doesn’t awaken to their fate as easily as do addicts to other drugs – and there are few interventions for the cannabis addict. Perhaps it’s just that nature takes on a portion of the work and lightens the buck’s load… or perhaps they’re all just stoned.
The palmate leaf is like a hand that grabs the face, an impartial helmet and intermittent blindfold. Myself I slave away after 9 years of internment to the plant, all those years spent under the lucid awareness that my life would be better, more progressed, more productive, more successful, more real, more linear, more sparkly, more sensual, and more powerful without it. Since I killed the plant it seems I don’t even get my own plant for all my enduring service to it – instead all I get is this perspective. The true nature of symbiosis is always one of co-dependence and it’s possible to look upon it positively or negatively; I was just too stoned to make a list of the positives. The only gift of a non-consuming addiction is to recognize that life grants alternatives – that there is always column A and column B. There is always “sober” and “high”.
So I have knowledge. I’d imagine it’s another useless politically correct assumption I learned in my generational autocracy that an educated slave is best. When one hasn’t any control or power it’s useless to know things, and perhaps more fun not to. To that note, I take a vapor hit for all the dead plants, the mounds and mounds of them that would form across the planet should they all de-compost simultaneously. All those that have been born and cloned, died and transferred, cut and ripped, bagged and shipped as they pretended to serve us, the wily expert thespian plants convincing us all the while that it was us behind the whip.