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I just want to feel...something
THE ART OF BLUNT ROLLING: PART 1
I could barely walk up the stairs to my dorm room. We’d just finished another practice and I was finally finding my stroke. The season had finished just over a month prior and we were already prepping for next season’s battles. I was ready to show the coaches that I was more than a role player. That I could be one of the stars of this team and help us win some games, something we hadn’t done much during my first two years.
Saint Bonaventure was a special place for me for many reasons. When I dropped out of high school my final year to raise my daughter, they were the only school to still give me a chance. All of my scholarship offers were gone and for the year I was home with my daughter, I thought I might never fulfill my dream of playing division one basketball.
But Bonaventure kept that dream alive. They flew to Toronto to watch me practice on my own at a community gym. Then they drove me in a limo down to Olean, New York where I fell in love with the campus. I committed on the spot. My gratitude to this school is high, and the experiences I had playing basketball all across America those first two years were like nothing I’ve ever experienced before or since.
But as I limped up the stairs, leaning onto the railing for support, I had this eerie feeling that my dream was about to end. That the sport I’d played since I was ten years old was about to abandon me. All that time spent in locker rooms, all those days spent inside of gyms — shooting, dribbling, playing pick-up — all the time spent with teammates travelling back and forth to games; it was all about to end.
When I stepped into my head coach's office the next day, I didn’t feel anything. He’d watch me on the trainer’s table hours before practice getting treatment on my injured groin. He personally drove me to a specialist outside of town to figure out if there were any alternative methods of treatment that weren’t available on campus. He’s seen the grimaces on my face, the frustration in my eyes, the determination to beat this thing and get better. But when I sat in his office that afternoon, there was nothing.
“I can’t do this anymore,” I told him. “It’s too much.”
He looked at me and nodded his head and the first emotion I felt was disappointment. Not mine, his. He’d taken a chance on me and I failed. And even though I doubt that’s what he was actually thinking at that moment, it’s what I thought he was thinking and that’s all that mattered.
When I stepped out of his office and walked back to my room, I felt like Robocop. Like part of me just got murdered and whatever was left, whoever was left, was just a shell of steel and wires void of any memory or emotion.
I lived at Francis Hall, and before I got to my room, I stopped at the townhouses to pick up some weed. Smoking was something I did occasionally, not habitually, but I needed to feel something; something other than empty and stagnant so I grabbed as much as I could afford, picked up some Dutches, and smoked an entire blunt to the face.
The smoke in the air felt like a cocoon forming around my body. I had my desk chair wheeled right up to the window and with each puff, my gaze stretched deeper and deeper into the mountains surrounding our campus. I wished the smoke would wrap around me and carry me to those mountains, away from my mind, away from my thoughts, away from a future without basketball.
When the blunt was finished, I lied back on my bed and waited.
Get angry, Kern.
You’ll never play basketball again. Break something.
Your life is over. Don’t you care?
Nothing. I felt nothing.
So I went to the convenience store, bought a forty-ounce and another Dutch, and back to my room. My eyes were already low when one of my boys saw me leaving the store.
“You good, homie?”
“I’m good,” I said.
The walk back to my room was slow. The guzzling of the 40 was fast. I unrolled the blunt between long sips, crushed the weed in my hands, filled the Dutch, and licked it closed.
One puff. Another. Guzzle. Puff.
I’m not fighting to keep my eyes open. I let the high overtake me and collapse on my bed.