That used to be something else. This is the hardest part about growing up, and it's also the hardest part about going home again. I call Oakland "home," but I grew up somewhere else, and it's not there anymore. Well, it is, but it isn't. The fact that the gas station that used to sit on the corner adjacent to Arby's at which I worked so many years ago is now a pot shop is just one of the confounding juxtapositions that have occurred in my most recent return to the city at the base of the Rocky Mountains: Boulder.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that my youthful stomping grounds have evolved in ways that I might not have anticipated when I left. Twenty-two years ago is a long time for things to stay the same. It's plenty long enough, for example, for a state to pass legislation that makes buying and selling marijuana legal. It's long enough for more than a dozen different recreational and medicinal shops have opened within the city limits for the discerning pot-buyer. It's very different from when I was a kid, and I had to find this guy "Jim," who I didn't know but my friend knew and he was going to take us to a place where he was pretty sure a guy would probably sell us some pot if we had whatever it was that he might end up charging us. It was a deal. We were making a deal. And it was scary.
Okay, in retrospect, it wasn't that scary because it was in Boulder, Colorado after all and cannabis wasn't really that hard to find. It just felt that way when I was in college. But that was the way we used to start weekends: procuring liquor and drugs. You knew it was going to be a tough weekend if you got all the way to Saturday night and all you had to show for your efforts was a twelve-pack of Miller Lite in the refrigerator. What I'm suggesting is that the adventure was in the procurement, and now that the hunt has been taken out of the equation, I wonder what the underclassmen busy themselves with on those Friday afternoons.
Maybe they're studying. Maybe they're reflecting on the way that outdated dogma kept an absurd distinction between depressants in place for far too long. Or maybe they're wondering what changes are taking place in their own home towns.