I’m not exciting. I’m sleepy by 10 p.m. and resent any plans that keep me out of my apartment, far from my pajamas; I’m not a huge fan of flying, so I tend to not go on too many trips; and spicy foods aren’t for me.
Sure, occasionally I venture beyond my comfort zone, but that’s just a reality of living in New York. Commuting to Manhattan from Brooklyn every day is like an episode of “The Amazing Race” in which everyone wins and the prize is work.
But this isn’t an essay about surviving in the Big Apple.
This is an essay about the first time I got high.
It took a while. At college parties I had watched my friends get blasted and decided that it wasn’t for me.
When I moved to New York, I still didn’t experiment much, yet found the time to develop an eating disorder. I’m mostly O.K. now, except for some residual anxiety about eating in public and about my appetite (mainly: whether I would have enough of one to eat so-called real meal).
But this also isn’t an essay about my food issues. This is an essay about getting high for the first time. At the age of 27.
The two are related, though, because using pot to stimulate my appetite was something many friends suggested to me during the years of my eating disorder.
What prevented me from experimenting with alcohol or drugs earlier in life was my fear of the unknown. How could you ever know the strength of the weed you bought from a grungy dude off campus? The whole system seemed risky and greatly suspect.
But with more states legalizing medical marijuana, and a few going fully recreational, my thinking started to change.
Then I found myself in Colorado this summer.
This was my first trip with my boyfriend and his family, so I was understandably stressed. Combine my anxiety of eating in social situations with wanting to impress your boyfriend’s family and you can imagine how much I was sweating.
Colorado is a state with cannabis dispensaries as far as the eye can see. And in Aspen, where we were staying, the dispensaries are for well-to-do folks, which is code for: They are nice.
Within two days, I became fascinated by cannabis — that’s the clinical term — and how it could help someone like me. I learned about CBD, the non-hallucinogenic part of the plant, and its benefits for the anxious. I wanted to test it out.
Guided by a man named Brett, who looked like Western depictions of Jesus and whose job is often called “budtender,” we were able to ask questions while browsing a well-lit and well-organized store. There were cookies and gummy candies and lotions and vapes. It was informational, low pressure and exactly what I needed to feel comfortable with my new form of self-care.
We left the dispensary with a bag of goodies focused mostly on CBD, my new BFF. Some of our purchases also had THC — that’s tetrahydrocannabinol, the part of the cannabis plant that makes you high — which can help spur appetite.
There was a large dinner we were to attend that night, and I was pre-emptively worried out of my gourd about it. I was stuck my usual mental loop: If I ate now, would I be hungry later?
Seemed like the right time to try out this whole CBD thing.
I got one of the tinctures we had purchased. I held a dropper-full of the mixture under my tongue for 30 seconds, like the bottle suggested, before swallowing.
This is, apparently, the fastest way to absorb anything.
My boyfriend excused himself to the restroom, jokingly warning me not to get too high while he was gone. Jokingly because the amount I’d just ingested wasn’t very much.
The joke was immediately on him.
My body soaked up the combo with remarkable speed. In less than a minute, I felt woozy and on the verge of fainting. As soon as he returned, I told him I didn’t feel well.
With tingling hands and feet and a ringing in my ears, I laid down while he got me some water and a bowl of pretzels (the big ones that don’t mess around). When I felt strong enough to sit up, I sipped on seltzer and ate a couple of bites of lifesaving salt.
I was giddy and a little joyous, less from the tincture than from the adrenaline rush. I could already feel my anxiety dissipating. I realized I wasn’t dwelling on the repercussions my three pretzel bites would have on my appetite for dinner. Progress!
A couple of nights later, we decided to actually get high.
I selected a peanut butter cup. I’d been warned that the danger with edibles was that you can’t dial down how high you’ll get; once you eat one, you’re strapped in.
Confident from the dinner’s success, I ate that peanut butter cup as dessert after a large meal. By digesting it on a full stomach, I thought I’d avoid any of the faint-y side effects of last time.
We were looking up at a starry sky, as you do in Colorado, and especially as you do when you’re waiting to be high.
All of a sudden, I had to sit down forever. It took all of my energy to sit still for 10 minutes while waves of nausea and whatever-the-word-is-for-feeling-like-you’re-about-to-crap-your-pants passed.
Cold, deep breaths. Extremely not looking at the stars.
I remembered some lawn chairs at the top of the hill. Slowly, so slowly, we made it to them.
As we sat in the soft, reclining chairs, I exclaimed: “I’m so powerful for not puking.” Then I giggled for a while.
Willfully letting go of control proved to be good for me, and bonus: I have never slept better.
I have since figured out how not to get too high (hint: eat an edible throughout a meal so you don’t get body-slammed later), but I’ve decided that a little world spinning every now and then can be good.
If you’re going to get high for the first time, may I recommend Colorado? The sky is pretty, the trees won’t judge you, and the breeze will be there when you need it.
Sami Main is an author and comedian in Brooklyn.
Rites of Passage is a project of Styles and The Times Gender Initiative. For information on how to submit an essay, click here.