I shouldn’t have done it. Granted, everyone else was doing it. People worse than me had done it and come through just fine. I thought I could handle it. I thought I’d be different. Besides, nobody, and I mean nobody, warned me against it. They said it’s the best high I’d ever feel, completely safe. So, yeah, I confess. I did it.
I didn’t get hooked right away. I didn’t even like it at first. I spent the first three months vomiting it all up, sick as a dog, swearing I’d never do it again.
The dealers painted this rosy picture: I’d go tripping and discover this life-affirming connection with another human being. Even meth couldn’t hold a candle to this kind of high. Other procreators spent a fortune on the paraphernalia alone, top-of-the-line stuff from the highest quality dealers in the city: Stokke, Pali, the Notorious PBK (Pottery Barn Kids). Women glowed in their euphoria. Strangers rubbed their bellies while praising God in the manner of a cult. All I got were hemorrhoids and a rising paranoia of how I’d be able to afford the habit.
After I cooked the first batch, I tried to milk my high for all its worth, but the effort nearly destroyed me. I stood out on the deck, naked from the waist up, crying, a cold November wind offering the only pain remedy for my cracked, bleeding nipples. Was this what rock bottom felt like?
After the second batch, I lost touch with my own identity. I quit my job. My diet changed dramatically. I only ate soft foods out of jars or picked up leftovers from plastic superhero plates. My speech consisted of fragmented sentences of one-syllable words.
My husband tried multiple interventions, but all I did was wonder when and where my next high would come. Story time at the library? T-ball game? The Birch Meadow Elementary School PTO Spooky Fun Fair?
After the third batch, I became trapped in an endless cycle of dopamine spikes followed by hangoverian exhaustion. The highs were still highs, but sleep deprivation turned into nightly DTs.
Addicts chimed, “Don’t they just light up the room when they smile?” In my house, that smile usually preceded a full course meal of Spaghettios and applesauce being flung all over the floor. Other addicts posted photos of their best products, capturing their six-month intellect, foreshadowing their athletic prowess, memorializing the product maker’s breeding and expertise. “Here’s to our little hero on the verge of greatness.”
I started chasing other addict’s highs, particularly the Jones’s. I followed their market share on Facebook, wondering how it was even possible to produce that perfect of a product. Was it even possible to ace an Apgar test? Jones highs included trophies and invitations and kingships. My high was avoiding a meltdown in the school cafeteria when the schedule changed from Pizza Friday to Fish Stick Friday. The Joneses said, “My heart just melts when he says ‘Mommy, I love you.’” All my “he” did was just say no.
When I started procreating, I didn’t consider the gene pool we were working with. I had grand plans. I’d pass on intellect, athleticism, a sense of humor. Friendship. Happiness. Then I’d get high vicariously.
But like other vices, procreation brings out the worst, and my flaws recycled with a vengeance. If you’re 5’2 and 110 pounds, you can’t make a 6’4 all-star quarterback. If you have a temper, and you’re not careful in the cooking, procreation will clone it. And who knows how one product ends up with bad eyes and a penchant for writing poetry, while a Jones product gets straight A’s and goes to Notre Dame on a soccer scholarship.
Buddhists claim the child chooses the parents. If that’s true, then maybe procreation, as stupid as it was to try, was my best worst act. I’m in recovery now. My husband’s final intervention succeeded, though he couldn’t walk for a week. I never procreated again. And after twenty-two years in recovery, I finally sleep through the night, confident that I did three things better than the Joneses, and every day they remind me I have all the highs I’ll ever need: love, laughter, and the night magic of Lunesta.