One of my favorite doctor bloggers posted a poem today about the presentation of symptoms in healthy youngish individuals who might be using a group of drugs folks of my generation referred to as ‘uppers.’ First, I have to ask, is that term still a thing, or has it been replaced by a more colorful, or even cryptic description.
This post sparked a memory, and because I have newly re-found my voice for however long it lasts in this realm, I am inspired to full disclosure on an experience from my younger days.
It was the early 1980’s, probably the summer of 1981. I was 20-years-old with an upcoming 21st birthday in September. I was living alone after being tossed out of my live-in boyfriends shared home. He wanted the relationship to be over, I didn’t, and wasn’t willing to make the break at first so while literally not tossed out, at the time that’s what it felt like. It was the right move in the end.
A mutual female friend of the ex and myself got tickets to a concert in Portland. I know for sure Blue Oyster Cult was one of the bands, and I think perhaps Rush was the other. It was an outdoor concert, held in some uncovered bowl-like stadium on the outskirts of the city. Honestly I’m not even sure how close to Portland we really were. When she asked me to go along, she mentioned that her brother, and my ex, were the other two with tickets. I easily convinced myself that the presence of the ex wouldn’t be an issue. The naivete of the young…
I do remember thinking it odd that both the ex and the brother were rounding out the group, until I realized that the brother was well known for his ability to supply pot and the accompanying knowledge that the ex (a huge reason he WAS my ex) had decided that being high most of the time was the best way to live. My claim to using drugs at that point was one batch of pot brownies consumed on a trip to the coast a few years prior, and two attempts to smoke pot that resulted in truly laughable episodes of coughing so hard that I peed my pants. I found it better to stick with the occasional contraband bottle of Annie Green Springs or Boone’s Farm wine because remember, I wasn’t really legal yet.
The friend was also not into getting high, so – again being naive – I thought I would just ignore the two stoners and have fun. We’ll leave the awkwardness I felt just being around the ex again out of this post. I realized rather quickly that, even in his drug induced haze, it was difficult to be around him. So I did what any 20-year-old female would do in that situation. I set out prove just how much his presence didn’t bother me. Yeah, stupidity was in abundance.
Long story short, and why I was inspired to write today, was that we arrived at the stadium, found our solid concrete seats in the last row of the farthest right hand corner facing the stage, full-on 80+ degree sun beating down us, two idiots already high, and no plans (because who knew then) to stay hydrated, or have sunscreen. Of course, beer was an option and we indulged in that because we actually had someone over 21 to buy it for us. I wonder now if that was part of the motivation to bring the dealer brother along. At some point early in, likely after a beer run or two, the brother pulls a bottle or a baggie or something from his pocket and casually mentions to our group, “we should take these now so we can stay awake…” and no, that’s not really a direct quote, but something along those lines came out of his mouth and I found myself looking at a few small white pills.
Here’s stupidity point number 2, or maybe 5, or maybe even 13, I lost count by the time the day was over. My brain probably registered some sort of recognition that this substance was speed, but there sat my stoner ex-boyfriend and even though I wasn’t indulging in his favorite drug of choice, we had that little issue of showing him that I could hold my own. So I took one of the pills.
I don’t really remember the rest of the day. By the time the concert was over at 6pm, or 8pm…I was starving, because one random hot dog didn’t do much to fill me up. I was severely sunburned and so very likely dehydrated. The buzz from the beers I did have had long earlier worn off, but I wasn’t tired. Ten hours after taking that pill I was wide awake. So we piled in the car, the wasted duo in the back seat, and my friend driving. It was about an hour into our drive home when I realized my palms were sweating, and itching and I was feeling my heart beating, as in consciously aware of my heart beating. Then I started getting really paranoid. I just knew that my friend was going to fall asleep at the wheel and I was going to die and that the entire day definitely hadn’t been worth an ending like that. I have no idea if these reactions had anything to do with that pill, and I honestly don’t know if that pill was methamphetamine. It was assumptive on my part, but seems likely.
While not everything since then in my world has turned out perfect, and I definitely haven’t made the best choices, I hope that I really am no longer that naive, or that I exhibit levels of stupidity like I did that day.