Never in my life had I experienced such Great Distractions! The days and nights all began to look the same. Weeks became months, months became years. Another school year had come and gone and I was turning 11 before I knew it.
What I didn’t understand was all the different “things” civilian kids were exposed to. Sure, we had television, outdoor activities, swimming pools and the like but never in such large groups and displays of different lifestyles. Each child brought in a new idea or habit, it truly became overwhelming for me. I connected with everything around me, allowing each perspective to take over my daily routine.
I had recently met a girl named Jennifer that had just moved in the apartments on the other side of the adult pool. Walking into Jennifer’s apartment for the first time was a sensory overload. There was a radio blasting out some Jimmy Hendrix, while her parents looked very relaxed sitting along one of the walls in the living room. Each wall had all sorts of blankets adorned with a variety of colors all hanging along the walls of the living room. Greens, blues, bright reds and oranges with yellow spattered and pulled across the material.
The normal couches and chairs were replaced with bean bag chairs and round cushions brilliantly colored to match the colorful walls. In the center of the living room sat a huge statue of a very large smiling Buddha, it was 3 feet tall and 2 feet around. Painted white, balding head, with a blue cloth that draped the figure, exposing the right shoulder. There were four hoses wrapped around from its back, behind the shoulders and into the lap.
Both her parents had long blond hair, cool blue jeans and t-shirts that were all shades of the rainbow, neither were wearing any shoes. As I was looking around the room taking in all the colors, Jennifer introduced me to her parents,
“This is my new friend Sheri, she lives on the other side of the pool.”
“Hi Sheri.” They said at the same time.
“Hello, it’s nice to meet you.” I could barely respond as I was so distracted by the decor. Jennifer’s mom could tell, as she got up from her bean bag chair and said, “They called it, tie-dye. Jennifer helped me make each one. Pretty isn’t it?”
“Yes, very pretty. What’s that?” Asking as I pointed to the huge statue.
“Why that’s our happy Buddha bong.” Jennifer’s mother said matter of fact, like the Buddha was part of the family.
“May I ask what a happy Buddha bong is and why is it sitting in the middle of the living room?”
“It’s moving art.” Her father responded as he stood up and walked over to the large Buddha.
This answer really peaked my attention, so I had to ask, “Moving art? How does it move?”
“Sometimes art can move you, even though it is standing still.” He replied.
“Alright, we are going to go into my bedroom and listen to some records. Come on Sheri, it’s this way.” Jennifer said as she pulled me down the hall to her bedroom.
“We are going to run to the store, need anything Jennifer?” Her mom said as we turned and walked through her bedroom door.
“No thank you, I’m good.” With that Jennifer closed the bedroom door and said, “Wait until they leave, I’ll show you why they call it “Moving Art.”
Not understanding what she meant, I blurted out, “Alright cool, your parents seem really cool. Your room is even cooler! Look at all these posters. I bet you have one of everyone I like.” Amazed by all the posters pinned to the wall, I asked, “How many do you have?”
“I think there is over 50.” Jennifer casually responded.
Completely impressed, I said, “WOW! That’s amazing. I’ve never seen so many posters, except at the record store, of course.”
“Of course.” Jennifer agreed.
Opening the door and peeking down the hall, Jennifer said, “I think my parents are gone now, let’s go back into the living room, say hello to Mr. Buddha.”
“Mr. Buddha, now this is interesting.” I nervously laughed as we walked back down the hallway into the living room.
“Have a seat next to me.” Patting the floor beside her, so I sat down and waited for further introduction to the Mr. happy Buddha bong.
“My parents have no idea that I know the real purpose of the Buddha bong. They tell me the same thing, that it’s moving art. So, one night, I got back up after they told me to go to bed. I snuck down the hallway and saw them and a few other friends sitting around the Buddha. My dad was burning something in the belly of the Buddha, after which they each took one of the hoses coming out the back into their mouths and then blew out the smoke.”
I became confused until she showed me. Jennifer took out a small drawer tucked under the Buddha’s feet, inside the drawer was a bag and a book of matches. She took the bag and withdrew a small flower and placed it in the opening of the Buddha’s belly.
“Have you ever smoked before?” She asked as she took a match from the box and stroked the side, lighting the match.
“Yeah, sure, I smoke cigarettes.” I wanted to sound more experienced than I was and not the uneasiness I was feeling.
“Ok that’s cool, then you should be able to take this bud, unlike a cigarette, you don’t blow the smoke out right away, just hold it until you can’t hold it any longer. I’ll show you.” Putting the match to the Buddha’s belly, Jennifer lit the flower as she put the end of the hose in her mouth and drew in the smoke.
Exhaling she said, “Easy peasy, now it’s your turn.”
Not wanting to appear scared, I took the hose as she lit the flower.
Drawing in the smoke of the flower was a lot smoother than any cigarette I had smoked. I could feel it move into my mouth, down into my lungs, filling them as I took in as much as I could. Then I held it in, slowly releasing it as if I had been a long-time smoker.
“Damn, you sure you never smoked marijuana before? You didn’t even cough!” Jennifer seemed impressed by this and offered me another hit.
“Now I get it! Moving art! It moves the smoke through you!” I started laughing at the irony of the statement made earlier by Jennifer’s father.
“What’s marijuana?” I managed to say between the laughter.
“Mom calls it, God’s gift. Dad says it’s nature’s medicine. I say it’s a heavenly trip.” Jennifer said as she was laughing.
“This is amazing stuff, I’ve never heard of it before.” Taking another hit from the Buddha Bong, I kept talking, “Man, where has this been all my life?”
I felt so light, so complete, so relaxed, everything started to make itself clear to me. We live in a backwards world, where things that are good are replaced by the stress of the unseen.
Weed had joined the ranks of providing relief for my mind. I started seeing sparks of light, small at first but then brighter. The black lights in the room enhanced the ability to see between the sparks. I felt surrounded by good, wrapped in harmony.
I started singing along with the songs playing on the radio, knowing the words as if I had written them. Even songs I had never heard before, came to me in rhythm, I could see them as waves of lights.
I didn’t know how much time had passed but Jennifer’s parents had returned from the store. Jennifer jumped up and said, “We were just listening to the radio, going outside now. Come on Sheri, let’s go to the park.”
“Yeah, sure, let’s go.” With that we said goodbye to her parents and left the apartment.
It took a minute to readjust my eyes while stepping outside from the dimly lit room. Once the trees came into view, they looked like they were glowing. The whole place was glowing.
Jennifer asked, “What would you like to do now?”
Licking my lips and feeling my mouth was dry, I said, “I need a drink of water, let’s go to my house.”
The rest of the day was spent listening to music at my house. Jennifer left when my mom called us to dinner.
I slept very well that night!
No longer was I seeing any dark shadows. My sleep had returned to solid slumber, no longer was I entangled in the nightly silent screaming. It was as if someone flipped a switch and could no longer hear the voices in my head.
I didn’t question it, I didn’t wonder, I just was.
To be continued…