I can't legitimately call my drug dealer a dealer anymore. But I guess now he can call me one.
When I met him, Pinkman (as he's listed in my contacts) was all business. The first time I made a purchase, he showed up at my apartment with a digital scale and a testing kit in his backpack. He breezed in, played with Chaucer for a minute, measured out my goods, and beat it as quickly as he'd come. I assumed he was off on an evening full of deliveries, a very special Santa for some very bad boys and girls.
But over time, I came to understand that he actually sold to very few people. Friends and their familiars only. I myself had squeezed onto the roster by way of a friend's cousin's old dealer. It was a tenuous connection at best, and by all rights I should have been dropped when that dealer retired. But I guess Pinkman deemed me harmless enough to keep in the loop when he took over.
Eventually, he stopped selling almost completely. He got a job. Then a second job. He moved in with his girlfriend to an adorable little house with walnut floors and a bright red door. I couldn't visit him without looking around, wondering which of the furnishings my cash had provided. When he'd text out of the blue, offering his wares, I'd joke to Terence about it. His girlfriend must need shoes or something. 'Text Ellie. I want to go shopping.'"
Pinkman's suppliers (of which he has a few) don't sell drugs in small batches. They maintain a minimum buy requirement, I assume, to cover their costs, minimize risk, and simplify the operation as much as possible. Makes sense. But because of this, and because the scope of his business grows ever smaller, those of us who buy, have to buy in bulk. It doesn't matter what the drug is - ecstasy, psilocybin, LSD...if I want it, I have to buy a lot of it.
Now, contrary to what these pages might seem to convey, I really don't do drugs that often. And many of the people I used to share my drugs with just aren't around as much as they used to be. So that leaves me with a dilemma: what the hell do I do with a few hundred dollars worth of something I only want $50 worth of?
Yep. You got it. But since I'm passing it along to friends, not strangers, I prefer to think of it as distribution, not sales.
Very few of you would have reason to know this (and for those who feel the need to pat themselves on the back for not knowing, go ahead, we'll wait - just take care not to knock the wine bottle over when you do so), but pressed tabs of ecstasy are exceedingly difficult to come by. Good ones, anyway. The closure of Silk Road and stricter regulation on the importing of precursor ingredients have really put a hurt on the market. Bottom line: if pressed pills become available, you jump.
Pinkman texted me last week, inviting me to jump. He's recently switched to communicating solely through a temporary messaging app. After a certain number of hours, all messages disappear, just like Snapchat. Poof. No proof. No trace. He opened, as always, with an alluring description of the product. The exotic name (all ecstasy tabs are identified by colors and recognizable brands, like "white Versaces" or "pink Pokeballs"). Its reputation. How limited his access to it, and how quickly his supplier's stash was like to sell. What's the minimum buy? I cut to the chase. He gave a number. It was large. Ooof, I thought. No way. But then I thought some more. I know people who were extremely impressed by Pinkman's last batch. People who've in fact made overtures to me about getting more for themselves. People with money to spend. Okay, I answered, doing some quick calculations in my head. Doable. Just gotta spread the goods a little bit.
And that is how I found myself driving, Pinkman in the passenger seat beside me, to the valley a few days ago, to purchase several hundred dollars worth of pressed ecstasy. During rush hour. Then driving back with him again immediately - still during rush hour. All told I spent nearly three hours in the car with my twenty-something drug dealer. This is my life. I recently turned forty. I'm unmarried and living with my ex-boyfriend and a dog named after a bawdy English poet. Sometimes I think I subconsciously steer myself into these absurd situations just to shock my parents back to life. If only.
Now you'll want to know what we talked about, because good grief. Well, what you'd figure. Music. Festivals. Drugs. But in between these topics we talked, in tiny doses, about ourselves. Always minding the boundary line of privacy. Always politely changing the subject when we sensed the other had veered uncomfortably close to The Personal. It's a delicate conversation dance, the one you do with your millennial drug dealer.
But here's where I have to interrupt the story and hark back to the first line of my post: Pinkman isn't really a dealer anymore. He's pared down so much, in fact, that in order to make a purchase for himself, he needs the supporting dollars of a spender such as me. And my spendy friends. That's where things stand at this point. I'm enabling his habit, not the other way around. It's not much of a habit, though, that's the thing. He rarely ever uses drugs anymore. He barely has time to, working two jobs and spending all his free time recording music. Not to mention, he doesn't have a car to go get them. When I asked how he normally obtains stuff from his suppliers in the valley, he explained he has to take the train to go buy it. "The Metrolink?!" I replied, shocked. "You have to take the Metrolink to the valley if you want drugs??"
"Ellie," he said to me, shaking his head. "I've done ecstasy once this year. Once. I just like to have some on hand in case an occasion comes up. But no one will sell me just three or four pills. And if they will, what they're selling is shit. If I want to get good stuff, I have to buy a lot."
And here I thought I was useless.
As long as the drive was, I didn't learn that much more about Pinkman than I already knew. Which is probably best for both of us. I did come to like him more, though - and I already liked him a lot. He's a terrifically sweet kid, warmhearted with a great sense of humor. And as dumb as it sounds proclaiming trust for a criminal: I trust him. I knew from how he spoke to me when I was tripping on LSD that he was good people. I knew from his reaction to my elation, and from his agreement afterward that LSD is life-changing, that we'd always get one another. We talked at length about acid during the ride to the valley. He knows I'm keen to try it again; it's the one thing I bug him about. But the other day he made me understand why he's been unable to get it for me: he's unwilling to buy LSD from shady, unfamiliar sources, because he knows firsthand how terrifying a bad trip resulting from a poor product can be. He assured me he knows how important it is to me, to experience acid at least once more, but that he'd rather I go without than go with something bad. "I know who to buy from. I know some real hippies, and they always try their stuff first. When they have it, when I see them again, I'll get you some. I promise. I know you want it. I got you covered."
He messaged me about an hour after I dropped him off. It was his one night off from work, and I guess he decided to take it upon himself to test our purchase and report to me the results. The exchange we had was delightfully ridiculous, in the way that sober person-to-high person exchanges always are.
Took one half 35 mins ago...super empathetic also drinking wine lol
Yeah?? So you like em? Thumbs up?
Yes.. I ate a quarter twice in 90 mins. Feelin good
(fifteen minutes later)
Hahaha. Enjoy. You're the best for keeping me in the circle. :) Can't wait to try em.
Lol I wanna do acid with you you some day
Yessss and go to natural history museum?
Ive never been but I love dinosaurs
Dinosaurs *are* pretty bomb.
Do u smoke weed. I sell these prehistoric weed pokers (sends a pic of hilarious/absurd thing I have never seen, something between a skull and a bong)
Yeah when others have it, I just never get it myself
(fifteen minutes later)
Have I sent u my tunes
No! You keep promising to but you never do!
And then he sent a link to his Soundcloud. And I melted a little bit (or should I say dissolved?), because I knew, then, exactly where he was emotionally. A place of utter love for the whole world. Openness of heart and spirit. Vulnerability fortified by the purest optimism. He was in the place I know well, from which I usually fire secret texts to all my best friends, crouched in the bathroom stalls of throbbing night clubs. I love you, I type feverishly, pulsing with gratitude for what I have. I miss you.
And they do the same.
They don't call it ecstasy for nothin'.
Pinkman had been promising to share his music with me for years. It was always him who brought it up, and him who balked, I guess, when he came to his senses and recognized the need for boundaries. But the other day that particular boundary came gently down, lost to the waves of a serotonin flush. And in one fell click I knew Pinkman's last name. But much more interesting than that, I knew his soul. I hit play and a smile cracked my face instantly. It wasn't what I expected; it was much better. I clicked another link and listened, and then another. And then I found myself watching his familiar crooked smile in some years-old homemade video the youthful earnestness of which nearly broke my old, jaded heart. And then I stopped. I closed out the window on my browser. I couldn't erase his newly-learned last name from my memory but I could at least stop looking at it.
Things shared in a delicate moment deserve to be handled delicately.
Today he told me he'd found me some LSD. Awesome stuff, from a reliable source. I had to tell him I can't do it right now. I simply cannot justify another huge purchase so soon. I have the money, that's not the issue - but I couldn't look at myself in the mirror, dropping more money on drugs within days of my last buy. Even if it's acid. Even if I'm desperate to get back in touch with the things it showed me last time. Even I could really, really use a dose of that clarity and peace right now.
I'm wiped out, I said. I wish. If it's around in a few weeks, I'd love to. But I know how it goes. I know you can't reserve for me like that. I know it's now or never.
I got you, he messaged back. It's cool. I know you don't want much. I'll get it for you. It'll be here.
Friends show up in the funniest places sometimes.