Long before states started legalizing marijuana, New England had the most potheads per capita in the country. As an 11-year-old Mainer, I was one of them.
It’s my own personal theory that an annual six to seven months of winter contributes to Northeasterners’ love of the bud. I can tell you that for me and my other latchkey middle school friends, lighting up felt like the most entertaining means of whiling away indoor afternoons when our coastal town was muffled by snow. I still remember how good it felt to tromp to Chris, Michael, and Bobby’s empty houses, kick our soaked boots off in a tumble in the mud rooms, lie down in shag carpeting, and get ourselves, and sometimes our pets, thoroughly high.
I’m not proud of the pet part—although I swear Chris’s arthritic lab loved these afternoons as much as we did—but I can’t say I regret any of this. The four of us were still too young to have been briefed on pot’s potential damage to our brains, and smoking produced a calm goodwill in us that for those afterschool hours veritably wiped out the alienating, brutally hierarchical reality of junior high. The basement rooms, with their macramé wall hangings and fake wood paneling, were safe zones, where we fell more deeply in love with the music we already liked, and where we were free to indulge in our craziest revelations and stupidest jokes. When I’d see one of the boys in the halls at school, I’d relax reflexively.
Michael’s older brother was a small-time…