Part one of two
Two and a half weeks into a nasty bout with sinusitis and I haven’t smoked pot since I first noticed the snot coming out of my nose and the sputum from my lungs was green like a watered down pea soup. Ugh! While blessed with great health despite nearly 30 years of HIV, allergies and sinus problems are my Achilles heel.
Even before my enjoyment of smoking weed added to the problem, I always had trouble with allergies and asthma. Yet this challenge of annual summertime bouts with bronchitis, year-round asthma and other general frustrations from sneezing and watery eyes led me to change my habits, something I am certain is central to my well-being with HIV.
I avoided wheat and dairy, starting taking a wide range of vitamins, herbs and supplements, things to this day that I believe made me stronger to deal with my infection and also more willing to add alternative therapies and supplements suited to both increasing the efficacy of pharma treatments and minimizing their side effects.
So, much like when I had to give up my favorite indulgence of childhood, Breyer’s mint chocolate chip ice cream, it was easy to stop smoking weed, to stay away from my favorite legal drug (I have a prescription, though it didn’t stop me before) or what I like to call my booze alternative. It’s a near daily regimen that chills me out, eases my depression, removes my anxieties and brings my gratitude for many gifts into focus.
Despite feeling exhausted I can run errands – buying groceries, getting cough syrup or Thai noodle soup to go – but I canceled a bartending gig and the idea of riding the pedicab is as plausible as flying to Reno for the weekend.
All of a sudden my cannabis-free, sinus inflamed, headache-y brain understands something else my love affair with weed is doing, something as startling as the eye opening moment when I saw my favorite summer camp counselor with his shirt off and realized I was not like all the other boys.
Yet this “ah ha” moment was the opposite; instead of providing clarity and access to intimacy I realized that yes, weed provides many things, but the formula of Me + Marijuana is a remarkable numbing agent, a less invasive, more relaxed version of neutering a horny, touch-deprived, emotionally needy dog.
Sick and tired as I was, I was masturbating more than ever. Not because of the free time, or the side effects of the cold & allergy medication I was taking but simply because the needs weren’t hidden in that lovely, skunky, smoky haze of California green. I was hornier than ever, needier than ever, thinking more about men and sex and touch and love - my lack of it, my fear of it.
The bullies in my coming out weren’t straight men. They were gay men, the people I thought had my back, the men I met in bars when I started exploring in my late teens. I was too scared to go to the places kids my ages went so visited a bar with older men, who not only were more likely to initiate conversations but were more interesting to talk to as well.
Yet I was stupid to understand “lets hang out” or “you want to have a drink” or “watch TV” meant sex, mostly with my legs in the air. I was too scared to enjoy it, too timid to say “no”, or “not this, let's do that,” but instead gritted my teeth and hoped it wouldn’t take too long, distracting myself that it would be nice to have a new friend. That never happened.
Unlike heterosexual teens, I had no one to talk to, share with, teach me. No lessons learned from making out under the bleachers or laughing with my friends about bad dates, girls we wanted, girls we ‘had,’ good sex or bad.
Thirty-five years after graduating high school I now know a few things more but not much. Thanks to Obamacare I now have great health insurance and in early February I met with an intake nurse at Kaiser Permanente. Dozens of questions into creating my profile he asked about my sex life and I realized it was mostly in my head and palm, told him that my two significant relationships had ended due to our lack of sex (despite my jacking off whenever I was alone), shared how few partners I had ever had then not wanting to sound too melodramatic, joked that I was the living illustration of the guy who talks about sex all the time because he never has any.
So here’s what I learned since those days. I can’t get a hard on if we’re not making out. I probably can’t make out with you if we’re not flirting or talking, probably about interesting things, but maybe just goofy stuff too. You can play with my testicles if my cock is hard, but otherwise don’t. My idea of the ending to a great date would be to make out, make waffles and make love. Sex scares me. Love does too.
I love good weed. It makes the hard times easier, the good times better but it also makes my sofa seem like a good substitute for love. That’s not gonna work anymore, no matter how many times I reach for the bong.
To be continued. . .
(see related post below)