Telling yourself “this is the last time”. Last time for hooking up with strangers and getting away with it, last time taking mystery substances, last time walking down Anderson at 3am, last time driving too high, too drunk, too tripped out, last time lying to the boss, last time manufacturing a whole universe behind the ‘my car wouldn’t start’ story.
All the illegal things we do, the immoral, as well, feel so tense in the moment. The build up of the expectation for the moment it will fail, just before it crosses the threshold of getting away with it; pulling into the garage, locking the door, closing your eyes, opening and releasing the breath that’s been choking up your stomach. It goes back to when we were children, just after learning we could get away with lying. The one time our parents don’t catch us and distinguish truth from reality, we have a seed of hope planted in our cunning. Our own little secret, pregnant with possibilities.
Every night after I heave my body of sweat and grease buildup into my Honda civic after work, I begin the ritual of rolling a joint. Sometimes a spliff, sometimes with mullein or lavender to cut the almost wine-like cooking taste of blue dream. I tap the volume up as high as it goes, light the twisted paper at the end and zoom away, down one of the back streets of Middletown. Over the period of months it’s been since I graduated the court-ordered Drug Diversion program, enforced after my marijuana related arrest, I’ve worked the required number of intoxicants from one spliff, up to a bowl hit + two pure-blood joints accompanying my nighttime meanderings. Whatever winds my eyelids down to halfway when I notice a deer the moment just before too late.
The first time, it was going to be just a special trip, but after three months it’s a habit. My comprehension that should I be pulled over, any dumb officer could see my eyes, smell the interior of my car, badly coated with Zum spray and charred cigarette butts, and ask me to step out of the vehicle before placing me into the caring, seatbeltless, hard plastic of his own backseat to ensure that I’m no longer a danger to the other midnight motorists (who after three months, I have concluded are all doing the exact same thing, some with liquor, my favorites with strange). I now the risk every time I take it, and I cherish it. It’s something like freedom, knowing that what you want to do is understood as prohibited by everyone, but having the secret knowledge of just when that’s going to stop you from doing it anyway.
It’s the need for danger that makes it feel so good. The moment you turn down a side street, like Aladdin snaking through the bizarre with a loaf of Walt Disney animated bread in his arm, and lose the car that wasn’t a police cruiser but was following you anyhow. The breath right after the clench. It feels a little like being a hominid hunter after slaughtering the big bad, but more self-indulgent. The same breath that whispers in your most vulnerable ear “I got away with it, this time”.