They know only that you smoke pot. Terms like “addict,” “troubled,” and “stoner” are bandied about. Counselors are recommended. But you’re eighteen. Counselors are for fucked up, abandoned thirteen-year olds. Middle-aged lechers.
They cannot know what it means to smoke pot. They claimed they dabbled back in the day but had to grow up. Put childish things behind.
When you smoke, labels are wiped away by a feeling you call a chalkboard of consciousness. It’s like the idea of John Locke’s tabula rasa, but with a chalkboard hovering in your consciousness, wiped clear of waste and labels. It’s ready to be filled with something else, something of your own choosing.
It’s filled with goodness.
You have lived with labels, contradictory, long, like cars on a freight train. Son, little brother, future lawyer, dumbass, analytical, artistic, slacker, potential.
You smoke pot in the shower, you smoke pot before bed and watch shadows dance, you smoke in the alleyways and on the beaches at the lake in full sight of children playing. They don’t bother you, they are happy, the expanse of contrived gravel beach their playground. You never surrender. You drift into dreamworlds, where expectations are dissolved. All expectations are specks. Pompous people’s heads are exaggerated into Picasso-like grotesqueness, their mouths sources of comic relief.
You are the chalkboard. The chalkboard is replete with reverie, a smile, while you look on the world from a smoky plateau, a fleeting, dancing cloud. You are a thousand characters the blank chalkboard inspires. The chalkboard is the Tchaikovsky you adore, the cannons and creation amplified in the darkness before bed. The chalkboard is the stories you write in secret and never show but keep as markers.
You inevitably run out of pot. You pretend to commit to law for peace and the promise of money. Pot involves compromises. You turn to grumpiness without your chalkboard, the old order amplified too loudly. You recite your creed.
This all is how you label yourself. But it’s a label no one can dissect and shape to their own agendas. You will cite this when people ask who you are. People will shake their heads in disgust and at some points the weakness within you will threaten to surrender, but you quickly retreat into the chalkboard. Perhaps you will break up with your pot and your chalkboard down the road. You cannot bear to think of such metamorphosis. Although metamorphosis seems to be inevitable, something invisible and vast.
But for now, you are the chalkboard. You are beautiful.
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His story, “Soon,” was nominated for a Pushcart and he has also had work nominated for The Best Small Fictions. Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, (mac)ro (mic), and Ariel Chart. He lives in Garden Valley, Idaho.