It was the first week of my Junior Year at Hudson High School. I knew it had come time to break the news to my then girlfriend Madiera that I was going to break up with her, because I was digging on my ex-girlfriend and best friend Harmony all over again.
Madiera gave me a lift home from school on the day I knew I had to do it. In usual fashion we packed a glass pipe full of bright green herb and smoked it in her grey Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme as soon as we pulled out of the school. Ironically, she asked if we could go to Hudson Springs Park to hang out, which was the place I had spent time with Harmony a couple days before. It was the place where I had realized I wanted to break up with Madiera. Madiera and I would usually go to the park to fool around and party. I knew this time was different. We parked in the parking lot of the park and finished the bowl of weed. Then we went for a walk down the trail around the bend of Hudson Springs Lake.
I’m doing my best to remember here, because I was stoned constantly in these days, and particularly in this moment.. Madiera and I came to a clearing off of the beaten path of the trail where no one would likely venture. A lot of the talk was plastered babble of which I don’t remember. I know she had a look in her eyes like she wanted to kiss me and maybe get something happening. At some point I said, “We need to talk about something Madiera.”
A dark silver cloud seemed to be cast over us as her demeanor shifted. “What, Ben?”
I went on to tell her that I wanted to break up with her. She protested at times in desperation, and in all my shallow manipulation I couldn’t bring myself to hurt her. I still claimed that I loved her, because somehow I thought it was the right thing to say. We babbled on in circular stoner language, and she was saturated with shock and anger. I felt like a toothless weasel. I’d reach in at times to hug her, not knowing what to do. She was in anguish. At some point amidst our mind-baked cackling and rambling she did ask me about Harmony. I told her we had hung out and I did have feelings for her again. This enraged Madiera even more. She wouldn’t believe me that nothing had happened between Harmony and I. I knew it almost had but luckily we hadn’t completely crossed the line. Madeira drove me home and we shared deeply awkward goodbyes.
I did find out later that Madiera had hooked up with a guy on the same weekend I had almost kissed Harmony. She had been at a Frat Party and gotten drunk… ending up osculating (which only means kissing) with some unknown kat with a flat-top hairdo and the 1997 equivalent of Axe ‘Kilo’ body deodorant emanating from his pores. It made me not feel as bad about what I had done.
But Madiera was heading into her senior year, and we had truly been close friends, though maybe not eternal romantic lovers. She was heart-broken. She did slip into heavier drugs shortly after that. Her anger for me magnified for a time. I deserved it for what I had done to her heart. She dated guys sporadically and opened herself to total relational freedom. Yet I lived my life much like a confused squirrel beside the street pavement of existence- running around aimlessly with only a prayer at not getting smashed by the reality car of absolute authenticity.
Harmony and I were together again. I felt as if I should update her on the magnitude of drug intake that I was used to. Harmony liked to smoke a little ganja here and there, but mostly filled her habitual nature with cigarettes… She smoked Marlboro Mediums, and she occasionally dug into mixed cranberry juice and vodka to fill and inebriate her Friday nights. She was nothing near the caliber of crazy I was.
I was smoking at least $150 worth of high grade pot a month by this time, and usually more. I was inhaling 15 cigarettes a day, almost a pack. I was able to consume 9 beers in a couple of hours and mix them with a high amount of dope smoke in and out of my lungs without vomiting for the next hour afterwards, and usually got drunk at least one or two nights a week. Harmony had to catch up to me. Now that I had been all the way around the proverbial sexual “bases” in the hanky-panky baseball diamond more than a few times, I would have to convince her to join me in that area too. I was foolishly excited to get her up to date in my new-found world of vice!
Harmony was not so quick to join me. She was cautious, and hadn’t violated her own continence like I had. She was also alarmed by the amount of marijuana that I consumed. I lied and told her I would cut down a bit. This just meant that I would smoke more of it by myself than in public. Thus my habits deepened in the caves of secrecy.
But Harmony was good for me in so many ways compared to where I really was within myself. She rekindled an inspiration and love in me I felt had been veiled behind a fog for some time. We would certainly have weekends where we drank a significant amount of vodka and cranberry juice, and sit on her friend Dana’s roof smoking cigarettes. One night, Harmony got drunk enough to vomit on the roof. I took care of her to help her feel better. Secretly I was always more wasted than everyone else around, because I would enter into the party after smoking grass on my own. My higher tolerance for poison also gave me an ability to look after Harmony and her friends. They didn’t have the annihilated guts to consume venom like me. I partied like an insane 22 year old living in Miami, Florida. I was only 16, and living in the suburbs of Hudson, Ohio.
About every song on the top of the radio in September of 1997 was not to my personal taste, except maybe Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. These were days where the thundering guitar and explosive drums of Jimmy Page rang in my ears constantly. I wanted to live in the world that Robert Plant sang about in “Misty Mountain Hop”;
Walkin’ in the park just the other day, Baby,
What do you, what do you think I saw?
Crowds of people sittin’ on the grass with flowers in their hair said,
“Hey, Boy, do you wanna score?”
And you know how it is;
I really don’t know what time it was,
So I asked them if I could stay awhile.
I was a 16-year old kid and it was 1997. Something in me longed to meet with these gypsies of the 1960’s and 1970’s, of which Robert Plant seemed to speak about… these songs spoke to me of a concocted utopia where people constantly took drugs, rapped about wild philosophy and listened to music. I wanted to recreate that world in my little sphere. My hair was longer… almost to the point of pulling it behind my ears. I bought more tie-dyed shirts. I longed for the world of Woodstock and the hippies to come alive in my existence.
I didn’t know the darkness that lurked, unveiled behind this façade of beauty and hedonistic freedom. I was attracted by the outer skin of it, and not the inner soul of the beast that hid himself behind.