Friday, 12 September 2014

"So... Why Lawrence?" (pt3) - The Hippie Shack, and Zen


By the time I got back to Lawrence, it was mid-September in 1999 and J had been gently asked to leave the co-op.  Fleeing the police and skipping out on rent doesn't make roommates very happy.  We took up residence in a building a few blocks away that was affectionately referred to as "The Hippie Shack."

Being chronically ill, I had also decided (years before) that mood altering substances weren't for me.  Despite growing up in BC I had always chosen not to smoke weed, and despite being a human being in North America I had always chosen not to drink.  I was worried that if I participated in something that dulled pain I'd be at very high risk of addiction, so it was fire I simply never played with.  Those decisions made me an unlikely house guest of the Hippie Shack.  One especially vivid memory is sitting on the porch with one of the other residents and talking about my decision not to use substances.  He took a big pull off of his joint and said "wow man I really respect that decision."

It's best to deal with these memories in fragments.  The bare cement basement suite where the window had been busted out - slugs kept crawling in through the empty window frame.  J waking me up at 3am, curled up in a ball and rocking back and forth, telling me about using cocaine and getting jumped by a group of guys, holding onto the pocket knife I had lent her - dried blood clinging to the blade and part of the handle.  Watching her inject "insulin."  Stories of her romantic escapades with people who weren't me - which at the time I wasn't sure whether or not to believe. 

Looking back, I was pretty zen about the whole thing.  I SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ZEN ABOUT THE WHOLE THING.  I wish I could rewind and get mad - mad enough to walk away, mad enough to yell, mad enough to stop participating in the whole thing and storm off and never come back.  My zen, at the time, was not good for me.  Zen was the only reaction I had.

Zen could also be called learned helplessness.  Those two things look very much the same, from the outside.

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