Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To the Kid who Lost his Joint in Kingston

I’m assuming you’re a kid, only because of where I found it, on the sidewalk, a block or so away from a church, from where energetically played rock music issued, and young teens streamed back and forth.
The neatly rolled joint lay there on the pavement, even and packed tight, with a rolled up strip from a matchbook serving as a filter, the other end twisted to a point. I might have left it there, for when you came back, anxiously scouring the concrete walkway, your friends restless and impatient behind you, the plans for the night already slightly awry. Of course, it might’ve been anyone else to come along: another young or younger kid, a parent, a grad student from the university heading for one of the bars or restaurants along the quaint streets, or a middle-ager like me, taking a solitary walk to the lake and back, or off to meet a friend.
Of course I wasn’t thinking of all that at the time. I bent, picked it up and raised it to my nose, already knowing what it was, and still surprised at the strong and pleasant pungency that tickled my nostrils. I could tell it was good, and so slipped it into my pocket and continued my walk. Chance had delivered me a gift, and I accepted.
It was two or three weeks later that I came around to smoking it – back in Toronto, after a day of work. It was a hot afternoon, and I’d been back and forth through town all day long, seeing clients, sending and receiving messages from other workers, patrolling some of the downtown parks and street corners. At the end of my day I decided to lounge along the lakeshore, and I remembered your gift. I made the trip home to fetch it, and a book and a bottle of water, and I headed out again on my bike, pedalling the paths down to the edge of the water. Then I stopped and stretched myself on a patch of grass. I passed your joint under my nostrils again, to savor the fragrance, wet it to keep it burning slow, lit the tip with a lighter, and took three slow, careful sips, tasting the smoke and holding each toke in my lungs a bit before taking the next, then stubbing it out on a piece of bark.
Good stuff. How I like that barely noticed slip of the mind, to a subtler level of details and dimensions. It was noticing the shimmer in the air and the depth of the spring green that let me know I was high. I felt in myself the congestion of the day not yet released, and began to let it go, and other sensations replace it: the feel of the grass on my leg, the sounds of water and air and traffic, the movement of my breath, stirring me and being stirred, like my thoughts, spinning with the clouds, then with the whirring of my bike wheels.
It was then that I thought of you, back on that remote Saturday night, felt your disappointment, dreamt I could imagine the tiniest dimensions of your different life, intersected with mine in this strange, unknowing way.
I wandered on foot and wheels for two more hours; did Tai Chi in a park, then stopped for a beer in a bar in my old neighbourhood, where I smiled at a while-ago lover from across the room. I chatted with a stranger while buying a bag of cashews in the market, and told him a joke I didn’t know I had. And I came upon and studied a sculpted figure in a courtyard, and felt a little that it studied me.
Mostly, my mind and spirit curled and rose up, like the wisps of smoke from the lip of your joint, which I sipped again and again. Some part of me wafted outward, until it was invisible, and spread itself through the layers of my life, folded in upon themselves, turning memory into presence, and future into a shimmer in the evening air. I was whole without any sense of body to measure me. I was happy in a way no possibilities could contain.
I hope you had your own compensations, your completions and trials, that losing your joint carried some tiny bit of transformative magic for you, as for me – this touching so far beyond your imagined reach. It is presumptuous, but I will presume, that your joint was a better gift than it would ever have been an indulgence. I even feel that I know you a bit, you the benefactor I never met. It may be a link of that folded over memory – things lost long ago that have left their impression, which something else could then later fill. I will rest with that self-serving explanation. And trust that I stand with you in my jubilation, though I can’t rock to the music of that youthful band, nor will likely ever dance the secret alleyways of Kingston.

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