Paul couldn’t remember how he ended up on the hood of his car – he must have climbed up there at some point – nor could he remember anything but bits and pieces of his drive home from the party he had just been at less than an hour earlier. It was the kind of party that most parents in what was then the late 1970s would have not allowed their children to go to – one where the parents were out of town for the weekend. Paul didn’t need to worry about whether or not his parents would let him go. They were over 500 miles away, in a different state; had been for the past few months now, since his dad had taken a temporary job assignment. Paul’s older sister, Karen, was supposed to be supervising him, but she really didn’t want to be taking care of her little brother. She had her own life to live. Besides, she figured it was his senior year in high school, he should be allowed to celebrate. She wished she had more of that freedom in her senior year.
Paul had heard about the party from numerous friends. It was supposed to be a huge bash – the biggest one of the summer – and when he arrived with two of his friends, that’s pretty much what they found it to be. Paul wasn’t sure if it was really the biggest – he had been to some big bashes lately – but this one was in the running, no doubt. Paul had been making it to a lot of parties like this before and after graduation. His parents weren’t around to tell him no and his sister was looking the other way, why wouldn’t he? It seemed there was a good party somewhere nearly every weekend. If there wasn’t, Paul and his friends would just have one at his house. In addition to the weekends, Paul had been living it up during the weekdays too, especially once high school was over with. There was a neighbor down the street from Paul’s house who had a couple older sons still living at home, and it seemed that at least one – most of the time both of them, were up to partying all night. Paul provided the place, and they provided all the rest, for the most part. Some nights, some of the brothers’ friends would show up too. The brothers and their friends always had good stuff and were always willing to share.
Paul liked that he had a lot more friends that wanted to hang with him now. He never had a lot of friends when he was in elementary school, always a bit of a social outcast. He was extremely smart, but didn’t fit in well with the other kids who were academically advanced at a young age, like he was. He really didn’t fit in well with any group, he had a difficult time with proper social interaction and was hyperactive, which tended to make the other kids think of him as a bit weird. Had it been the late 1990s or more recent, he probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome, but those labels didn’t exist when he was that little, they weren’t even widely used by the time he got to high school. He also was on the skinny side and smaller than most of his other classmates. In Gym class, he was always picked last for a team sports and never asked to play when it was outside of school because he wasn’t athletic at all. He was often teased and bullied by the bigger kids because he was an easy target and rarely fought back. The couple times he did, he ended up on the losing end. Sometimes, some of the kids would act like they wanted to be his friends, only to set him up for some kind of ridiculing or bullying later. Paul did have a couple friends, Bryan and Tom, who accepted him as he was and liked him. They treated him fairly. Eventually, he almost exclusively hung around with them and nobody else. Consequently, with very few exceptions, Paul had become very shy, reserved and withdrawn as he was going into middle school; more often than not, preferring to stay in the background.
In Middle school, all that began to change. Thankfully, by hiding in the shadows, the bullying had subsided. One day, when he was walking home from school, he happened across the path where a group of his peers were gathered. They called him over. As he approached, Paul recognized one of them from his old elementary school. It wasn’t one of the kids who used to pick on him, but not someone who he would necessarily refer to as a friend, Paul just knew who he was.
“Paul, you wanna smoke a joint?”
Although Paul knew what pot was, had never tried it before and told them so.
“Do you wanna try it?”
“Ummm, sure.” There was a slight apprehensiveness in his answer. He knew it was illegal and some adults said it could hurt you, but they were already smoking it when they called him over and nothing bad was happening to them, so how bad could it be? He didn’t notice anything at first, but after a little bit, Paul could feel its effect and liked it. He began meeting up with this same group fairly regularly on his way home from school; sometimes, other kids that Paul recognized from his classes and in the halls of the middle school would show up. Paul couldn’t help but notice that none of them were ever the ones who picked on him when he was younger, and none of them treated him like an outcast or teased or bullied him. They treated him like everyone else in the group. They treated him like he was one of them. Sometimes Paul would save his lunch money for the day so he could buy a joint from one of them and share it with the group, other times someone else would share theirs. Eventually Paul decided to buy a couple extra ones to share with Tom and Bryan. He had told them about all this and they seemed curious to try it, which they eventually did.
Epiphany Wrapped in Yellow Part 3
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