About three years ago I started getting high from smoking often to smoking multiple times a day. I had before then but the times were sparse, often a month or two going by without any sort of drug interaction. But that winter had been hard and by the time May came I had grown closer to two friends that were also in town for the summer with nothing to do. As a grossly lingering relationship drew to a close by end of June all of a sudden I faced zero responsibilities, was completely broke, with 2 months to waste while baking in sunshine. It was during these poorest months of my life that we lived and treated ourselves like kings.
Weed was always favorable to me over alcohol because it never made me sick and didn’t taste bitter. After my final breakup with Josh I started to realize that by spending my days high with L and S, all of us bonded by being stranded within 3 miles of each other in our shit ass hometown of Pawcatuck. I thought and cared less about him with ease. In the healing motion of hazy amnesia those nights on the road in L’s black Outback became the only space where I felt like I was finally my own person.
After scrounging up money for some measly scraps from a friend of a friend, July 4th came around and we celebrated by baking out the car and lighting free fireworks in S’s backyard; our entire stash was depleted by the next afternoon. We had given up until S’s mom and her boyfriend Dave left inexplicably for the night. Something inside of us became hungry and desperate; we seized the time without anything else to think of.
“So I know that Dave is either growing or sells, but either way there is weed inside that basement,” said S. “I can smell it when I put my head down by the door crack.” She took me and L down the cracked tiled stairs into a cluttered room of the basement that had two doors ajar from each other in a nook on the side. One door led to an unused bathroom, where S went inside and took out a book with marijuana plants cover and The Grower’s Manual above it.
“See? I fucking told you, dude grows weed. And it’s some good ass stuff, too; I stole a nug once that was definitely white widow or some good shit like that. Go ahead, smell it.”
I brought my head down to the ratty carpet, stuck my nose in the door crack, and inhaled. It was musty, but with the definite scent of weed.
“Why can’t we just ask him to sell it to us?” asked L.
S shook her dyed crimson head, thinking about the fact that the man was dating her eternally drunk, spiteful dragon of a mom. She had court ordered her to let S stay for free until she got back on her feet and the woman was not pleased. “No. There’s no way.”
Her attention turned to the other door, jiggling impatient fingers at the knob. “Any way we could pick a lock?” she shrugged.
We looked up how to pick a lock, tried for 5 minutes with a pin and failed. “I know, there’s a window on the side of the house. We could try prying it open,” said S.
This whole thing that I accidentally became accomplice to was obvious once we walked up the stairs, out the glass door and over to the left side of her two-story ranch. Right before the deck foundation in a patch of ivy, two white rotted windows sat dark with the curtains closed.
Both L and S began to move faster than I could believe for the sake of fear and time; they both went into the garage, S came out with a license plate and a hammer, and she dug the plate into the splintered window crack while hitting it with a hammer. The license wouldn’t jam far enough.
L whipped by me back to the garage and came back with a black rubber mallet. “Try this—”
S grabbed the mallet, tried to open the window, and ended up holding the license steady while L whacked at it. The thin metal sheet stuck underneath and we watched in awe and agony as it pried and lifted the window open.
We all whispered silent swears and screams. L opened the window just far enough to sneak under and the both of them looked at me, alternate pairs of blue and brown eyes staring into my face with hope. The opening was only small enough for me.
After shaving my head for the summer and spending all of my time on the beach I had accepted my role into their tiny version of family as the child. My weight barely went over 130 and I was 17, girlish metabolism still holding out no matter how much fast food I ate. L and S were both two and three years older than me and their bodies had already accepted a more shapely womanhood. My skin began to prickle with adrenaline.
Okay. Okay. It took come convincing but I stuck my head underneath the splintered window, curved up and into the unknown basement. Outside, the sky was turning from blue to black.
“Help, I need help! I can’t get my leg through!”
Two sets of hands leaped at my foot and I thrusted my clumsy body through, tearing my inside thigh on the wood. My arms set out blind into the darkness as I clutched a shelf of books directly under me, knocking some of them over as I tumbled and crashed on an unseen couch.
Both of them sprinted and I got up, disorientated and in disbelief, as they appeared outside the door. When I opened it they turned the light on and blurred as I looked around, unsure of what to do.
There was a loveseat, a couple of desks, a bookshelf and a bureau lining the edges of the dull white room. In the sliding door closet both of them peeked in and saw two massive shotguns. They quietly shut the door. “Where the fuck would he hide his weed?”
They opened drawers, checked inside boxes, containers, behind stacks of paper; one jar on the bureau had a massive damp nugget the size of my fist wrapped in plastic. This victory was only the first. “This isn’t finished to smoke yet; there’s gotta be something else.”
On the bottom of the bookshelf in a corner was a red insulated lunchbox. S reached it first. I watched as she zipped it open and screamed.
“Quick! Give me a bag,” she yelled as L ran up to the kitchen and came back with a Ziploc. In the silver lining of the lunch box were about 6 or 7 little mason jars of weed.
S read the tape labels on the top of the jars: blackberry kush, blue dream, sour diesel. A nugget from each jar was carefully placed in the baggie so our tracks would never be traced. My heart was racing from keeping track of tires crunching and the possible sound of us being caught and cussed out. Afterwards in a blur it was clear I had to sneak through the window again: L and S darted out the front door to catch me out the side of the house. I clicked the lock on the door, shut off the light, placed a firm foot on the head of the couch and launched myself out the window into arms.
S caught me while L was already waiting in the Subaru, one light on to inspect our bounty. We clambered in, slamming the doors shut as she floored the gas pedal away, all three of us shrieking louder. It couldn’t have been much more than an eighth that we stole, but free weed was free weed, especially when it was homegrown by old white men. Both of them rubbed my fuzzy head and laughed; if there were any qualms about me being able to fuck with girls out of high school, they’d been squashed. I was one of them now.
This started a season of stolen goods and cut security tags, taking whatever we wanted because we could, we were young, and nobody cared. Even my bald head meant nothing with a stuffed purse so long as my back was turned to security cameras. We scanned ceilings, stole money out of our parent’s pockets and wallets for late night Denny’s, smoked ourselves out on the beach before the white shirts came, took stickers, label makers, patches to sew onto nothing, just to prove that we could. It wouldn’t be the last time we shoved a license plate into that basement window for weed. For the first time in our lives we were the ones in control, making the rules. For the first time we were free.