Blow Blows

Back in the seventies, you know, during disco, Farah Fawcett, Studio 54, platform shoes, Stayin’ Alive, all that, blow was big among the young. For a short time, my boss (who was also a friend) was spent a lot of weekends in Aspen where he had a friend — W — who had a friend (etc.) The moment came for me to “try a few lines,” and I took the moment with that combination of “thoughts” shared by young people — I wanted to be cool and I wanted to find out. It was a disastrous evening and no, I’m not detailing it here. I was very glad to go home the next morning.

My next experience with it happened in Aspen, as it happens. I was picked up in Glenwood Springs by, yes, the very friend who always got my boss high, and taken to his house where he was going to meet “the man.” The man was straight from South America. I didn’t, myself, “meet” the man because the man has to stay under the radar, and who knew but what I was a narc? But once the man left, W set a couple of lines out on a mirror on the coffee table and I did one. Uncut coke.

Short cut to a bad weekend.

From there I was driven to a hotel in Snowmass where my boyfriend’s parents, sister and brother in law were staying. I was going to spend three nights sleeping on the floor of their hotel room and have free skiing for three days then they’d bring me home. Or something. Sad to say, the blow I’d snorted was so pure that I was up for two nights. I don’t remember skiing those beautiful slopes or much else about the experience except that it was hell lying there on the hotel floor faking sleep and wondering if I’d ever come down. Finally, at about 4 am one morning, I wrote a note, left it on the dresser, shouldered my stuff, took a taxi to the Aspen airport and got on a plane. They were cheap back then so if you’re thinking, “Wow! All this blow! Aspen! A plane!” don’t. $40 for the flight was all the money that weekend cost me. In other ways that weekend cost a lot. Probably the best skiing of my life and I missed it even though I skied it. Nice meals I couldn’t eat and the company of people I cared for. Missed that, too.

Flying home over the winter Rockies, picking out geological features, and feeling real joy at the first sight of Denver, I decided, “No more blow for me ever.”

Not a very challenging resolution. I didn’t like, didn’t like, didn’t like cocaine. I tend to be a little hyper and wired anyway. That was beyond insult to injury. Who in hell found that shit fun? How could it enhance ANY experience?

A year later, a lawyer friend at the law firm where I worked wanted us to go to Aspen together. I arranged with my druggy Aspen friend, W, (who was a well known architect) to stay at his place. W had plenty of room for us and was happy we were coming. My friend drove. We were not prepared for the jangly strung-out mess W had become. My lawyer friend spent one night, sneaked out and went home, leaving me there (some friend….). I kept trying to put a good face on things, which included driving with this guy in his (formerly beautiful now dilapidated) Porsche Targa to a lumber yard to buy a large mirror we brought home in the top-less Porsche two-seater. That thing could have shattered any minute and then?

That night we went to a party at a house he had designed. He was a mess. I mingled and my friend did more coke and no one else did. A woman who was there said, “Do you want to come home with us? You’re not a couple, are you?”

“God no,” I said. “Just old friends.”

“That’s a relief.” She was that worried about W. He WAS scary. About 2 am we went “home” and I lay in bed thinking about my next steps, then realized I had rehearsed them. I called a taxi. If I had to spend the night at the airport, I would. I remembered the beautiful flight of a year or so before and I was eager to repeat it. This was fall and even in the high country winter hadn’t fully set in. The taxi company called back at 6 and I set up my ride. W — who was “up” night and day, heard everything, came and hung up on the taxi company. He insisted he take me to the airport, “I don’t know why you’re leaving,” he said. “You can’t go.”

“I can and I am leaving,” I said. “You’re a mess.”

He got angry, but we still got into the Porsche. I prayed we were going to the airport, and we did. At the airport W began giving me a tour of the features of the airport that he’d designed, including a passive solar wall. I can’t say that wasn’t cool, but I wanted out. Then W wanted to show me something he needed a key for, and he went to look for someone who could open something for us. The minute he turned away, I ran outside to the tarmac where the plane was loading. That was it.

Below me the mountains were golden and dark green; the peaks already snowbound; the lower cirques still filled with blue. Seeing that from a small plane was redemptive, beautiful.

A couple of years later W, who was on the Aspen City council, collapsed during a meeting. He died soon after of heart failure. He wasn’t even 35 years old.

28 thoughts on “Blow Blows

  1. C is a weird drug. Never did much for me. Didn’t ever really get into it. Lots of friends did, though. It was always around.

  2. I was a teen during that whole era. I had a very sheltered and strict upbringing so had no opportunity to experiment (at least I didn’t look for an opportunity). College exposed me to lots of things but I was on the straight and narrow. I saw plenty of other students attempt to ruin their lives and that deterred me…. Glad you didn’t fall into that trap!

  3. Such a sad story. It sounds like you’ve been grieving on some level all this time. I’m also glad you got to the airport that second time safely. Close call. That’s one thing I never tried and I don’t regret it.

    • You know, until I started writing that, I didn’t see how close the call was. πŸ™‚ I’m not sure I’m grieving W or anything like that, but I do have some sadness over not “getting” it for such a long time. OH well.

      • Yeah, often those kinds of experiences clarify or crystallize in retrospect (if that makes sense) – and the older we get, the more we realize how lucky we often were. I remember times like that and cringe. And sometimes wonder if someone was watching over me – or something.

        • I feel that someone/thing has been watching over me. I don’t doubt that at all. There’s also Hemingway’s story, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” where the writer guy realizes he’s going to die before he writes all his stories. I’ve known a long time this was a story, but the moment hadn’t arrived, I wasn’t mature enough and didn’t yet have the voice. I saw a meme on Facebook yesterday, “The seed never sees the flower.” that resonated with me and this story.

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