Every week, we'll feature a story by Al Green, a writer living and consuming cannabis in NYC.
After a week long binge of Homeland, chain-smoking Purple Punch, and ordering Seamless until my credit card is declined, I have come to the resolution, that this decade, the Roaring 20's, I will only smoke Indica after sundown and I will stop watching television. Purple Punch, which seems to be the closest marijuana strain to heroin, enters me into a state of hibernation that I just can’t afford these days. I didn’t spend the warm months getting fat, but I have spent more time on this Earth watching TV than I have spent sleeping. I will start reading books again like I did in middle school, before I had a TV in my room. I might even start taking piano lessons.
I start the year off with a bowl hit of Red Congolese. The sativa results in a weightless euphoria that promotes focus and mental clarity. Its energizing properties make Red Congolese a good morning treatment of nausea, cachexia, tension, or Alzheimer’s. My psychiatrist tells me my traumatic brain injuries could very well lead to some type of degenerative disease down the line, so I justify the Red Congolese as a preventative measure. Also, I like the name; it sounds like something Joseph Conrad would have smoked.
I’m blasting Southern Nights by Glen Campbell, dancing my way out of the shower, naked, thinking I’m going to have a great fucking year, when I realize my roommate, Dubious, is standing there watching. I retreat to behind the door of my bedroom as the record player comes to a screeching halt, reminded that I can no longer dance naked in my own apartment.
Things were different when Jamie lived with me. I could walk around naked whenever I wanted (after 6 years she broke up with me and now lives two blocks away). I could no longer afford the rent on my own. “Two blocks in New York City is like one hundred miles,” she justified. I question whether she is torturing me, holding on to the past, or hoping to keep an eye on me in case I lose it. I wish she had just moved to another country, vanishing into thin air.
This was the first holiday in half a decade that I have spent without her and her family, and I made a concerted effort to not even ask what she did for the holidays, where she was, or who she was with. Out of sight, out of mind. These days, all we talk about is the dog. While indeed a pitiful and juvenile excuse to stay in touch, Goof needs to run five miles a day or he will destroy the furniture Jamie left behind. I hate running. A dog walker in New York City costs a fortune, they don’t even take the dogs running, and so I have agreed to let Jamie see the dog, for his sake.
I’m stoned, paranoid, looking out of the peephole of my door, wondering if my neighbor noticed I’m no longer writing and am now riding a bicycle with a backpack in the snow, coming and going, locking and unlocking the bike in front of the building. Jamie is wearing a skin-tight running suit, cheerful as ever, eager to pick up Goof. She is a tall, athletic blonde, with crystal blue eyes and a snaggle tooth that I always found sexy.
"How's your head? Been taking your meds?" she asks. She would never say she misses me. She’s too tough to admit vulnerability and holds her emotions close. Rarely did she ever tell me she loved me, but she did leave little notes around the house, that I keep finding hidden under pillows and in calendars that say, “I love you more than one more day.”
“You seeing anyone?” I ask her.
She hesitates, but she knows she can’t lie to me.
“Yes, I’m seeing people. You should too”
I watch her run off with Goof, realizing that I won’t be able to let her keep seeing the dog if another guy comes around more permanently.
I want to spend the rest of the day in bed reading, but my phone is beeping. Deliveries, deliveries, deliveries-Christmas tree season continues. Seeing Jamie fucked me up, and I feel a dark depression around the bend. My head throbs, as if I just received another kick to the cranium. I give up on the Lexapro abstinence and pop a 20-milligram pill.
I ride out to Bed-Stuy to meet Tutu, the manager of the cannabis service I work for so that I can restock. Tutu is a real pro courier. He thinks he’s part of a secret society, a shadow organization of cyclists that oppose the government’s prohibition of marijuana—a Domino’s Pizza Fight Club of sorts. They hang out in the middle of Williamsburg Bridge drinking beers with other couriers into the early morning, locks tucked into their pants, reminiscing about the good old days when there were only a few services, and the cops were more focused on busting weed deals. Maybe I just don’t relate to the culture because I have more than one gear on my bicycle, brakes, and I like wearing a helmet.
Tutu hates my guts because I grew up with his boss and don’t have to answer to him or give him cash. When I ask him basic questions, he threatens me with violence and calls me “rookie.” I don’t say anything to Steve, my friend who owns the service, because it’s not worth his time, and more importantly, if Tutu ever acted on his threats, I would end him. I might look like a stockbroker, but I’ve been training in martial arts since I was a kid, and I relish defending myself. Although, I must remember, the brain surgeon said another concussion could be my last.
Tutu lives on the second floor of a Brownstone, and I make sure to stomp my feet as loud as possible up the flight of old creaky steps as I enter his depressing abode. The 250lb black man, early 40’s, is made of pure muscle. He has the legs of a fullback, the result of 20 years on the road. He’s always wearing a bicycle cap, covering his bald spot. The gaps in between his every tooth are reminiscent of a Crumb character. He doesn’t say hello. Instead, he raises the volume of the hip-hop podcast that plays live on the tv discussing street beefs, masking our non-conversation. His eyes are blood red, and he’s anxiously pacing, the result of a week-long drug and alcohol binge. There are beer cans everywhere and plates covered by magazines on the table—what I assume to be cocaine utensils. I sit down on his bed. He looks at me as if I was not invited to sit on his bed. There’s nowhere else to sit.
Tutu hands me a plastic bag full of 20 glass vials of green. Upon closer inspection, I realize they’re all Indica. I threaten to pick up and call Steve to tell him our business sucks because we don’t have selection- Manhattan people don’t smoke Indica. They’re fast paced and busy. After a brief back and forth, Tutu throws another bag in my direction, the tin cans full of apricot edibles thumping against my chest.
“Out of everyone who works for us, you’re the only one who gives me problems.”
“Always such a pleasure,” I say, killing him with kindness as the door slams behind me.
I’ve never smoked with a client. I’m in and out with minimal dialogue. They know me as Al Green, and that is the extent of what they know. We’re a small, boutique delivery service specializing in hard to find strains that go for in upwards of $80 an eighth. It’s too expensive for them to share, or for me to give it away for free.
125th St. is an arduous uphill trek, but we have a prearranged three-box minimum with Maria, the Venezuelan bikini designer. It’s evening, and her personal trainer boyfriend is probably home. We’ll probably talk about cryogenics and bro it out for a bit before I get my two hundred bucks.
“Hola guapo?” Maria greets me, leading me into the apartment. Maria has flawless skin, plump Kardashian lips, over-sized breast implants, and a highly followed Venezuelan butt that I’m currently following. Her boyfriend is nowhere to be seen, and she’s heading into her bedroom where she’s currently designing her bikinis, in need of cannabinoid inspiration. I hesitate, and she turns to me, giving me a “yes, come in the bedroom,” glance.
“Why does the Citrus Burzt cost eighty dollars?” she asks me in her pseudo American lithhsp, my case and the glass vials laid out on her bed.
“Citrus Burzt is like running a few miles in August, and out of nowhere someone hands you a fresh squeezed citrus drink,” I tell her. “They control the release of it, kind of like a Jordan sneaker but for weed heads. If I could smoke anything, I would smoke this, but it’s hard to come by.”
“Can you give me a discount?” She asks, batting her eyelashes.
I can tell she’s not that serious about the discount, but Maria spends around $1,000 a month. Besides, this Lexapro turns me into a eunuch, the reason I wanted to get off it in the first place.
“Take it all for free. Happy holidays. In return I would appreciate if you could get us some customers.”
“No problema. Muchas gracias!” she responds.
“Feliz años nuevos,” I say, ignoring her offer to stick around and have a coffee.
An elderly homeless man screams the serenity prayer on the A Train subway platform with tears in his eyes, rocking back and forth on a metal box, A cellist and a violinist are playing Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons across the tracks from each other.
“Accept the things I cannot change!” The homeless man screams over Vivaldi’s Winter. “Cuz lord knows I’m trying!”
I don’t think he is crying so much as he was dead, so he became a drinker.
I get off the F at J Street. My friend Eliza is waiting for me in her Black ‘98 Civic. We light a spliff of Wedding Crashers and drive to Bed-Stuy eating mochi and madeleines. Wedding Crashers is a perfect Indica dominant strain: it’s happy, relaxing, and it tastes like cake.
The Brownstone is candlelit. 3 couples and 5 empty tables in the parlor listen to saxophone, piano, bass and drums. The jazz musicians are wearing tuxedos; it’s New Year’s Eve every night here. I pass them a joint of the Wedding Crashers as a token of my appreciation, and they hit the McCoy Tyner track. I’m happy to be alive. I have a job. I’m in great shape because of my job. I just need to find my Ikegai—the Japanese term for equilibrium between what one is good at, and what makes one happy.