The first time M.J. and I hung out…

Ok Mom and Dad, this is where you should probably stop reading and skip over the next few episodes of my life in Tampa.  Now I wasn’t completely naive when it came to marijuana, it was always around, I mean everywhere. Especially college, but for whatever reason, I never tried it. Ok, well, that’s not entirely true….let’s rewind a bit.

Back in Orlando we had these young neighbors who loved to smoke it. They lived right across the hall from us and every time they opened the door, a cloud of smoke would fill the hallway. Growing up a tom boy, I seemed to always have that token male friend in every city I moved to and in Orlando, there was Jeff.  He was awesome and a big pot head but he knew I had no interest in it so he never once pressured me to try it.  One afternoon we were on our way to see Beavis and Butthead the movie and as we were heading out, we bumped into our hippie neighbors. They smelled like a weed farm and of course Jeff was all over that. They invited us in to have a quick smoke before the movie which I was against fearing the long arm of the law would surely bust us for just being in the room. Once that group of veteran smokers found out that I was 23 and had never been high, it was all over.

Although it was early afternoon, the room was dark with various scarves draped over the windows. Monty Python was playing silently on the TV with the Door’s in the background secretly setting the mood. I had literally walked into a marijuana layer filled with all types of gadgets to get you high. There were hookahs, one hitters, joints, bongs and pipes of all different shapes and sizes with several kinds of pot to choose from. It’s as if they knew I was coming and had set the scene perfectly. I remember trying to smoke a cigarette years back and after many attempts, there was no way I could get that smoke in my lungs so I was quick to let them know that their pot was wasted on me as I had no idea how to inhale. But they were relentless and with my good friend Jeff by my side, I felt it was safe, so I gave in.

First they handed me a small glass pipe where you had to put your finger over a hole and suck in as hard as you can.  So I did and like I told them, it didn’t work. Now we all saw the plume of smoke come flying out of my mouth but I was sure that it had never made it to my lungs, so we waited a few minutes to see how I felt.  Next was the hookah which looked like a tall genie lamp with 4 long, skinny tubes connected to the top.  This was much easier to smoke so I hit it a few times, waited and again, no effect.  Everyone just stared at me waiting for the buzz to kick in as I sat there innocently thinking that nothing was going to happen, but oh how wrong I was!! Feeling defeated in their quest to de-virginize me, I was handed a J, which I felt at ease with so away I puffed and puffed and puffed!!!

By this time we had missed the first showing of the movie so there was no rush to leave just yet, the next one was a good hour away which was plenty of time for me to experience the magnitude of what I had just done. The novelty of the newbie had worn off so the group had broken up into various conversations while I sat in a chair wondering why everyone room was moving in slow motion. As I waved my hand back and forth in front of my face it dawned on me that it was moving at a snail’s pace meant that I could actually be high. Recalling the next 30 minutes is tough but the last thing I remember was me on the floor in tears with about 7 people, pointing and laughing in my direction. It was hysterical and to be honest, there was no particular reason for the laughter, but I couldn’t stop, it was fun.

We thanked our new friends as we headed out the door. It was still day time so the light helped to snap me out of it….for the moment. We rushed to the theater but it was packed which meant we had to separate and sit alone. At this point I felt just fine and figured the best part of the buzz was behind me until the movie started. In between laughing until my face hurt and continuously feeling like the person next to me could smell the pot and at any moment would turn me into the police, it was as great day. The funny thing is, as much as I liked it, there was not one moment after where I ever thought about trying it again. Drinking was my baby, not smoking, so it would be at least 2 years before Mary Jane would enter my life again.

So this brings us back to Darren, my wealthy boyfriend in Clearwater who decided it was time to introduce me to the underground, which was about to change everything…

My 2 Year Adventure with After Hours Parties and Glow Sticks…

My first year in Tampa was so much fun!!! My new best friend Techie and I were inseparable, I had bought a brand new 1997 VW Cabrio convertible and my job with AT&T was going great. When it was time to renew my lease I upgraded to a one bedroom not only on the Gulf, but also right next to the pool, it was perfect. My bills now with the expensive car payment and the raise in rent were more than I made in a month, but somehow I always managed to stay above water. Dating was getting much easier for me mostly because I was keeping my heart out of it and just having a good time. Then I met Darren, who would soon introduce me to a whole new way to party.

He lived in Clearwater so most weekends I would pack a bag and my Mr. Travis and I would head to his place for the weekend. Up until now I had no idea about life on the water. We would take his boat to sandbars, anchor and then party with all of his friends, and he had a lot of them. Little did I know the majority of the people around me were not drunk although it seemed like they were.

Then one weekend, about a month after we started dating, a few of his friends and I were hanging in the water when I noticed one of them acting very strange. She was rubbing the ocean water all over her body like it was lotion then would go over to the others and start rubbing on them very lovingly, all of them. She kept saying how soft the water was and how it felt like butter. I didn’t want to be rude so I chose not to ask what the hell was going on, but soon it would be very clear.

I’ll never forget that day. It was a beautiful outside, not a cloud in the sky, music was playing, people were dancing, swimming, and laughing all around me while I sat in awe of my new life. Then Darren called me over to his boat, sat me down with a very serious look on his face and proceeded to ask me if I knew what ‘X’ was. I did and I had tried it once, but was ashamed because it was an illegal drug and I didn’t want anyone to know that I had anything to do with that. Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that I tried it?

Let’s take a stroll back to Orlando for a minute, circa 1995. Back in the day I loved to call radio stations to see if I could get on the air, I know, lame, but it was so much fun. This one time the DJ and I kept chatting once we were off the air. He thought I sounded really cute and asked me if I wanted to meet him at a small party that night? Well duh, of course I did, he sounded cute too so I accepted and brought my friend Kim. To my surprise this was not a normal party, there were only about 10 people and no alcohol. How in the world do you throw a party with no alcohol? Once Kim found out what was going on she was elated and couldn’t wait to participate. Participate? Participate in what?

How many would you like said a long haired, hippie styled, thin man, with a very comforting voice? Pills, what pills, I hated pills?? I wanted Vodka not pain killers. But they didn’t have pain killers; they had ecstasy, better known as X!!!!

I had heard about this drug and from what I knew, it was bad, especially with a name like X. They all seemed to get a good laugh at my expense but I was scared, I didn’t want to be at a party with drugs, what if the cops came? After a lot of reassurance from Kim who had done it many times I agreed to pay $25 for one which at the time was a lot of money for me.

Much like my neighbor’s Marijuana layer, the scene in this apartment was set as well. There were lollipops, water bottles, glow sticks, black lights, techno music, massage oil and pillows and blankets scattered all throughout the living room. I’m sure there are many of you out there who know exactly what those things are for but I was clueless and soon to find out how they all help to make the experience better.

I was terrified as he handed me that pill but having Kim there was great and everyone was so, let’s say ‘helpful’ with my experience that I figured it would be ok. Once again I was the virgin in the room which made it even more fun as they all waited to see how I handled my first ecstasy experience. The lights were low, the music was high and at first it was odd, but each of us paired up as we all started giving back massages to help ‘kick it in’! Then it happened…! There is really no way to describe the sensation you feel but in a nutshell, it was wonderful.

Your mind and body go through all kinds of feelings and sensations but mostly you feel a lot of love and affection, I wasn’t expecting that at all. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely messed up but it seemed all I wanted to do was hug on everyone. Your sense of touch is heightened which explained the massage oil, your jaw tends to wiggle back and forth a lot so the lollipops were a big help, dehydration is a big side effect and until then, I did not like techno music, but that night, I couldn’t get enough of it. The music was a big part of the experience as well, it tends to increase your buzz, can’t explain it, but it does. After a few hours I was starting to come down from this unbelievable high and I wanted more but didn’t have any cash, just my checkbook. Being new to the drug scene I didn’t realize how dumb I looked when I asked the dealer if I could write him a check for another one, but he was cool and gave me a free one.

This brings us to the next day, the reason I never had any interest in doing it again. My body felt like it weighed a million pounds, I was exhausted, a kind of tiredness I’ve never felt before and I didn’t like it. I spent the entire Sunday in bed chugging water while going through a serious depression, which come to find out, was all part of the process.

So when Darren asked me that day on the sandbar if I wanted to try ecstasy, I said absolutely not, it was Sunday and I knew I had to work the next day. But he was very convincing and I knew I had plenty of sick days I could use to call off work, so after a bit of coaxing by him and every other person there, I gave in and so began a whole new way to party…

Tampa was a huge upgrade from Orlando..

Up until this point I’d lived in Indiana, Illinois, Georgia and Orlando and getting my things from A to B was like a scene from ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’. Moving trucks were always too expensive so I would grab a few good friends and their vehicles, load them up and head out. There would be crates strapped to hoods, items dangling out of windows, garbage bags full of clothes, boxes stuffed in no particular order and typically a few cocktails along the way. I know, I know, drinking and driving is bad and now that I’m a ‘grown up’ I would never, but when you’re 25 and at this time in my life, very dumb, it was normal.

Along the drive I dazed off into sort of a soul searching mode. There were definitely moments where I was proud of myself for getting out of Indiana and making it this far on my own, but those were overshadowed by the pathetic and embarrassing ones. With each new zip code I tended to leave a bit of the useless me behind in order to make room for the new and improved Carrie I was sure to be. This time the goal was to make better dating choices by not falling so fast and maybe just stay single for a while. I was unstable when it came to boys and knew it but for some reason there was no controlling my jealous, possessive and nutty behavior.

This was my first time in Tampa and it was a huge upgrade from Orlando. First you have water on both sides of the city where as Orlando was land locked. Beautiful Tampa Bay is lined with gorgeous homes that look like they belong to celebrities and millionaires and just 50 feet from my new studio apartment was the Gulf of Mexico. St. Petersburg and Clearwater beaches were just across the bridge and they are loaded with bars, shops, restaurants and hotels. It was a whole new beginning for me!

Once we arrived in Tampa, the plan was to unload and hit the bar scene to celebrate my freedom from the bad boyfriend and my new promotion and pay increase. Now by pay increase I mean enough money to maybe break even each month between the new rent payment, increasing credit card debt and bar tabs.

Our ridiculous caravan pulled in with music blaring and buzzes rolling, which was probably not the best first impression as we cruised by the rental office. All of the chaos attracted a few of my new neighbors who were quick to lend a helping hand!

By the time we unloaded, everyone was smashed and couldn’t wait to hit Ybor City. There you will find several blocks lined with bars, restaurants and clubs which was a good 15 to 20 minute drive from my place. This strip of paradise was soon to be my new hangout and a place where I would stupidly drive home hammered, not ever once considering the consequences. Now I’m not sure if you remember me mentioning a few blogs back about the DUI I received when living in Georgia? Well, I obviously didn’t either and that violation was soon to catch up with me.

Every weekend and some week nights you would find me slamming back shot after shot at the Green Iguana before climbing up on the bar at Bar Tampa to show off my sloppy dance moves. But we’ll come back to that part of the story, let’s get back to my new home.

It was only one room with a tiny kitchen and an even smaller bathroom but it was perfect. For a while I just had a mattress on the floor with a small love seat separating the space into 2 rooms. The sofa faced the Gulf and a tiny TV that I’d been lugging around with me for years. It’s mortifying to admit but I was a slob and having a dog that shed in my small space didn’t help either. I can’t imagine what people must have thought when they came over and what’s even sadder is that I had no idea what a pig I was.

This next part I’m not proud of and I wasn’t planning on mentioning it because my heart breaks just to think about it, but if you’re going to read about me, you need to hear the good and the bad. I was a horrible dog owner. Mr. Travis, my tough beagle mix would be left alone for hours, with no lights on, probably dirty water to drink and taking him for a walk was the last thing I wanted to do after stumbling home drunk at 4 am. Poor baby, I would give him like 5 minutes to do his business so I could pass out and then sleep in until noon. When I adopted him as a puppy in Georgia, like so many people, I didn’t realize the magnitude of what it took to have a pet. Growing up we had dogs and somehow, one of the 3 of us kids would either leave a door open or the dogs would rush past us and get out only to meet their fate in traffic on the main road. We didn’t treat them like family, more like possessions or a nuisance. Today I despise people who have animals and treat them the way I did, but I guess if you don’t know any better than how would you know you were doing anything wrong? Since that time I’ve become the most amazing animal lover, owner and advocate and even started a small company for a bit called Hippiekit. The goal was to bring awareness and charity to animal rescue and the environment. During those years I found homes for many dogs while also spending my free time volunteering with various shelters. Mr. Travis had it rough until the second half of his life, when I made everything right.

As for friends, I was lucky to have an awesome mate to party with. He was the person my friend from Orlando connected me with when I first arrived, we will call him Techie! This man was a far better person than I which is a big reason were just friends. He was kind, smart, responsible and motivated and I knew if tried to date it wouldn’t last and our friendship would end, which I couldn’t bear. We had so much fun together and having him in my life was super important. Techie wasn’t a big partier so after I was done making a fool of myself dancing on bars and falling over drunk, he was usually there to ward off the slimy guys I was sure to attract with my irresponsible behavior and make sure I made it home safe.

After about a year of finding myself and dating for fun, I met a wealthy guy named Darren. Prior to this the only person I dated with money was Mr. Big, but he was married, so after the novelty wore off, the guilt set in and I ended that affair.

Darren was a few years older than me, came with a ton of friends, fast cars and a 20 foot powerboat which we played on every weekend. This was my first introduction to life on the water and I loved it! This man would also open up my world to the drug party scene….and unfortunately, I loved that too…!

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