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L.A. Affairs: I meant to calm down before my date. I accidentally got super high

Illustration of a red-eyed woman peering over a scene of two small figures, male and female, on a trail
My only goal was to get through this hike.
(Alycea Tinoyan / For The Times)

My therapist tells me that with dating, it’s important to be yourself. But I’m not my biggest fan. So in an effort to break first date jitters, I took a huge hit from my new weed pen. I instantly started coughing. Looking back now, I wonder if it was an omen.

When it comes to marijuana, I am your basic L.A. gal — I shop at MedMen (a reliable chain that feels like an Apple Store), and I buy goods with cute packaging. I’ve never taken a hit from a bong, and don’t ask me to roll you a joint, because I don’t know how.

The perfect high for me is barely being high at all — just enough to relax my anxiety. I usually just use it to help me fall asleep.

I was supposed to be meeting Brad from Bumble and we were going to hike Los Liones Trail.

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But within minutes of taking that hit to settle my nerves, my eyes felt like they were sealing shut. I tried to drink some water to calm myself down, but I could feel the water trickling down my throat ever so intensely. My thought process was, for the most part, the words “too high” over and over again.

I’m naturally an anxious person but anxious and high? Not the best way to hike a mountain with a stranger.

I checked Bumble for any messages.

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“I’m running about 10 minutes late,” he said.

Thank God.

I had a little time to stall.

I did not have enough data service to respond. So after a few minutes of focusing on my breathing, I walked to the trailhead to wait for him. Hopefully he’d just recognize me when he walked up. After about 20 minutes, there was still no sign of him. What if he couldn’t find me and thought that I had bailed?

I checked the app again. He’d sent a message! He was lost and sent over his phone number. At this point, I thought, should I just leave? No. I may fit most Angeleno stereotypes, but I am not a flake. I tried to text him, but my service still wasn’t working.

This situation would have been stressful enough without the exciting addition of being mesmerized by my hands. Had I ever really looked at my hands before? I mean, really looked at them...

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The best option was to go and find him, I thought, so I walked back across the parking lot to another nearby trailhead, in case he’d gone there by mistake.

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I can do this. I CAN do this, I told myself. I tried calling him. Yes! Ringing! He answered, and as he answered, I realized he was pulling up next to me in his car.

“Hi!” he said.

“I’m so glad I found you!” I said. Did I sound too excited? Can he tell that I’m high? I’m still so high.

“I’ll meet you at the trailhead,” I said and immediately walked off, allowing him to find parking (and giving me a few extra moments to practice blinking at a normal pace).

And then we got to hiking.

The best part about hiking dates is that any silences are usually covered up by heavy (nonsexual) breathing. I walked in front of him for the majority of the time, making little effort to be good at talking. I just focused on the surface level stuff — his job, my job, what shows we liked, siblings, etc. It was boring, but it was a steady conversation that I was proud of.

I only let us spend a couple minutes at the top. My only goal was to get through this hike — there was no time for flirting.

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On the way down from our hike, there was a small turn off with vines and branches that bent their way into looking like a tunnel. “Look at this,” he said, going inside. “This is cool.” I almost followed him. Almost. But as my foot crossed the first branch, I began to wonder about his intentions. A tunnel? In the woods? Off the main trail? With no one else around? Was he trying to ... Fear seized me: No way was I going in there. I planted my feet in the earth with no intentions of moving. “Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” I offered.

We made our way back to the main trail. “I love things like that,” he said. Ugh. Me too. If I weren’t so high. I nodded, trying to seem as normal as possible without displaying any awareness of the distance I had just created, and internally berating myself for it. This guy liked trees. The real me is giddy about trees. The real me wanted to get excited with him by finding a natural tree tunnel on a hike. But the real me had also decided that in order to not be nervous on this date, she needed to get high.

I dread dating for this reason: I’ll do anything I can to “act normal,” yet the most normal version of me is miles away. How am I supposed to be in a relationship if I can’t even be myself?

When we got back to the parking lot, he gave me a good-bye hug. “It was nice meeting you,” he said. “Maybe we can do this again sometime?” “Yeah, that sounds great,” I said, trying not to act too shocked. I avoided direct eye contact with him as I turned and headed home.

He was being, at best, polite.

He never texted me, and I didn’t wait for him to.

I haven’t gotten much better at dating, but I have decided that smoking weed is best done while lying on the living room floor, and not a plan (or person) in sight.

The author is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She is on Twitter at @lemongella

Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary: L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles — and we want to hear your story. You must allow your name to be published, and the story you tell has to be true. We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.


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