In fall 2008, at the tender age of 33, I was sharing an apartment in Minneapolis with two women from Duluth. Although I’d never met either of my apartmentmates before I found the room opening on Craigslist, the three of us became fast friends—in part because of our shared north country heritage (I lived in Duluth for five years when I was young), and in part because we bonded at accelerated speed via the fact that all three of us were in superdramatic, highly emotional, and rapidly disintegrating romantic relationships. You were never surprised to come home and find one of the other two crying on the couch; you’d listen empathetically, because you knew that the next day it would likely as not be your turn. By the time I moved out in January, hanging by the door there was a framed collage of photos of the three of us together.
A minor issue in my own disintegrating (technically, disintegrated) relationship was my disappointment in my ex-girlfriend’s lack of enthusiasm about introducing me to the various psychoactive substances she’d enjoyed in her earlier years. I guess from her perspective I was meant to be the “good guy” who was the alternative to that sort of thing, but I was longing to finally be a bad boy and try things like coke, ecstasy, and shrooms. It was with that girlfriend that—for what remains the one and only time in my life—I actively sought out and procured marijuana, a joint that I triumphantly produced on a camping trip we took together. She took a couple of puffs and went to bed; I finished it off and, for the next six hours or so, watched the stars spin. That was pretty much the extent of our shared drug experimentation.
Thus it was that, come Christmas 2008, my two apartmentmates came up with a plan: their present to me would be the present of E. My initiation would come the following summer, on the beach in Duluth. Here’s the plan, as detailed in visual form on the Christmas card they made for me.
What actually happened was that, in the first days of 2009, my tumultuous on-off relationship officially became on again, and my apartmentmates—on whose shoulders I’d been crying for the past six months—made clear that they would prefer not to have my girlfriend and me trying to patch things up in their apartment. So I moved out.
The relationship lasted another five months before ending permanently, which was five times longer than either of my apartmentmates had guessed it would. I’ve since rekindled friendships with my two former apartmentmates, but not friendships so close that anyone’s suggested we go up and light that Park Point bonfire as planned. Maybe it’s just as well: in my chemically-induced euphoria, I might have tried to realize my childhood ambition of capturing a seagull and taking it home to keep as a pet. Maybe some dreams are just too big.