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As 4/20 revelers across Isla Vista celebrated Friday (and throughout the weekend), it was a good time to appreciate the special time and place we can enjoy here. And I’m not just talking about 4/20 or UCSB’s college playground that is I.V.
Youth, particularly college, is an opportune moment to experiment and hone your identity. The colorful mashup of lifestyles, viewpoints and backgrounds that come to a university community creates a fertile ground for potential and innovation that stimulates the creation of fascinating ideas and bold methods of self-expression.
It induces odd, creative, borderline crazy and sometimes downright weird behavior out of us; because, in this time and place, why not? Why not grow out your hair long or dye it some funky color if you’ve always been curious about how it would look? Or learn to surf, or go hiking or skydiving or to Vegas for a weekend you’ll never remember (but no one is allowed to speak of)?
Why shouldn’t you hang with a few good buds with some good bud and a six-pack so you can relax and share good times?
If it’s all just a ride, make it thrilling.
But even as the smoke rose and slowly clouded the neighborhood’s atmosphere on Friday, we knew student life ends eventually. Peter Pan is a fairytale; real kids grow up. For educated professionals, that tends to mean losing the dreadlocks, buying a few suits and getting ready to devote your life to long hours so you can eat and hopefully buy yourself a nice home and some toys.
We know we’ll have to work at some point — a sobering thought and frightening prospect in its own right — but we’ve come to accept that reality and are preparing ourselves for it. The details are still troubling, though.
Since a lot of jobs drug test their employees, many will have to decide whether they’re willing to risk their professional career for a few coughing fits and giggles. As stoners gaze down their bong tubes, bowls packed and lighters ready, I wonder how many have an idea of when the days of sweet and skunky smelling chronic smoke filling their lungs will end.
“Thanks Mary, you were great, but can you get out of here? We have work to do.” It takes practice to say it right.
Is it just laughter that they’d be missing out on? Would they miss the taste of fresh baked brownies or the sound of Marley altered by the effect of a burning joint? What about those unique and entertaining conversations with friends and strangers or all the thrilling incidents and adventures that occur as a result of their seemingly harmless habit?
But is it harmless? Is the smoke that fills the air of people’s homes, cars and streets a friendly ghost or deadly spectre? People walking down the street with cancer sticks dangling from their self-indulgent smiles seem to dismiss the question as irrelevant.
Are the good times worth the costs and risks? Is it worth it?
Questions hang in the air, blending with the haze. Dare I venture into that cannabis closet, hiding my illicit tools whenever I hear footsteps through the door? Do I want to bear the stress of fearing a drug test or a police stop and search caused by a strange smell on my person?
Light from a nearby window reflects off the bong on my desk and the glare assaults my eyes. I move the piece and reach for my grinder, forgetting the questions I don’t have to answer today.
Let tomorrow’s obstacles stay there. Don’t worry, the smoke clears down the road.
David Washington is a second-year political science major.