By the time all this extra-curricular activity began, Lori and I had been sleeping in different bedrooms. I had moved into the guest bedroom at the rear of our Bisbee home not because of any marital difficulty or growing estrangement but because it was easier to slip in and out of the house in the wee hours. It was also easier to perform my remodeling tasks at two or three o’clock in the morning if I could jump into bed after taking the Sawzall to some wooden studs. A few years prior to the advent of my green regimen, I dealt with my professional stress with retail therapy and home improvement. I filled my ManCave with tools and their accessories as I worked to improve our property. Often fueled by Starbuck’s espresso energy drinks, I stayed up late, sometimes till the sun rose in the east, putting up cabinets, remodeling the kitchen, opening the back end of our home. Lori appreciated the improvements, but not the mess that accompanied them.
On the morning after my visit to Adam and Max, Lori woke me a little late and asked me how my night went. I was clear about where I was, but I had forgotten that marijuana use often left me with a ‘high hangover.’ I didn’t share that part of my experience but did tell her that it went well with the two friends and that I felt pretty good. I could tell she was concerned, but so far, I had given her nothing to worry about. I took it easy that day not at all disappointed that I still felt the effects, however muted, of my recent ingestion. I also knew one thing: I wanted to smoke more and another opportunity couldn’t come too soon.
At that point in our lives, we had been married a good fifteen years. A psychiatrist once told me that people with my condition do very well when they have a solid relationship in their lives. Lori was that solid relationship. Two weeks prior to our wedding in the San Francisco Bay Area, I checked into the ER for the afternoon, overwhelmed by all the changes surrounding me. After my release, we went to see my shrink and Lori spoke to her in private, asking if she should bail on her soon-to-be spouse. Thankfully, the doc encouraged her to stay the course and Lori married me. I made my vows to her, to the church community around us, and to God, loaded on several psychotropic medicines, trusting my best man would hold on to me at the altar if I had to urge to flee.
My first year of marriage was hard not because of Lori. It was hard because of the expensive box we rented and my longing for my graduate student life I had left behind in Reno. But things improved, we found our stride, cobbled some part-time jobs together, and two years into our new life, we moved to Panama. The only time I considered marijuana use there was during my bout with colon cancer. The oncologist in Panama City dissapointed me when, after I asked him if I might need the little white cigarillos to deal with the chemo, he pointed out that great strides had been made in the treatment for nausea using not the reefer but an IV drip line.
After three years on the isthmus, we returned stateside and for a southern sojourn in Roanoke, Virginia, where my failed entry into the University of Virginia PhD program in history knocked the wind out of me and the election of the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop nearly did me in.
The church I served there was none too happy to have a homosexual run around with a bishop’s crozier, so it returned the favor by withholding a good chunk of its finances and giving its historic downtown church the shaft. I reeled about for two years, seeing a therapist twice a week and trying out different head meds-all the time wondering what the fuck was wrong with some of these people.
Lori wasn’t all that happy in her college position teaching music so we began to look west. My soon to be bishop from Arizona called me saying tha I had come highly recommended and expected he could find something suitable for me. Once we made the decision to head to Arizona, I knew that my next church job had better be an improvement on my last two positions, or I would be in a world of hurt.
We camped out in Tucson for a year where I did some college chaplaincy at the UofA and traded some of my priest-time for rent at a local rectory. Lori worked for a girl’s choir. My new bishop asked me to interview for a three-way position in Bisbee, serving two churches and the border. Though the interviews didn’t go that well as I was still hurting from the rancor in Roanoke, I got the job and we moved to Bisbee. The variety of my work, my episcopal mandate to start a Spanish service in one of my congregations, and the unique character of my border work went a long way to pull me out of the funk. The border ministry didn’t come with a job description so I had some latitude to pursue things that interested me. The same was true for my return to weed. Though I seem to thrive on a lot of freedom, too much latitude can get me in trouble.