Marijuana, on the other hand, was common currency. It could be obtained on any street corner in the neighborhood, and it had become as popular as tobacco. My friends smoked it to relax, and as a result I always saw them in a state of peace that resembled beatitude.
I remember clearly the first day that I slipped into that illicit world. It was dawn, and Samantha and I had left an apartment in the Village where there had been much talk of painting and the constant drone of Charlie Parker’s sax as if it were a mantra. I had been as bored there as an animal in captivity. Shortly before saying goodbye, one of Samantha’s friends offered us a satchel of pot as if it were the most appropriate baggage for the return journey.
And in fact it was, because before boarding the subway on the way home, a small sampling of that spiritual herb was enough to inspire us to contemplate the daybreak on one of the historic
benches in Washington Square, and we sat looking in wonder at the colors that streaked the sky. Wow, I had never before seen such beauty; the clouds were impregnated with a Mexican rose pink that looked like a fire in the distance, and the white marble arch was illuminated as if it were the threshold to an imaginary kingdom.