420 Bonfires & Friends

I woke up to blinding sun spilling out from all sides of my blinds. What are they even therefore? I thought, as I squinted my eyes open and cat stretched and rolled over to the cooler, untouched side of the bed pretending to sleep some more. It’s 6:30 in the morning, I have trouble lying in. My body just doesn’t want to. Especially on a hot spring day.

My bedroom is like a green house in the morning. A huge bay window exposing an entire side of the room to the heat of the rising sun. Stifling, humid, muggy, reminds me of my Grandad’s greenhouses filled with tomato plants. That prickly, heady smell of the vines in the tropical, thick, heat magnified by the glass panels.

Later, I went to the park to see a couple of friends to celebrate 420.

Ahh 420. You sneak up every year. I guess it’s hard to remember an event when it isn’t shoved down your throat at every turn several months prior like Christmas is.

The only hint I got this year were the many Roadmen rolling up on me in their big man cars the day before. when I realised it was 420 – it clicked! They usually only operate around freshers time in September.

SKKKKKKRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTT!

“Excuse me, you want my card?”

“Hehe, no thank you”

“It’s better yano! It’s Snapchat, you can see all the product ya get me?”

“And so can the police, be gone with your bad self!”

The interactions with these budding businessmen (tehe, get it?) is never dangerous or negative. They’re actually always very sweet and friendly. I feel completely safe sharing a giggle and saying no thank you to them when they offer their bazaar of drugs. A blinged out arm extending a business card for their candy shop of narcotics.

They know they’re being naughty. So they interact with caution and extra politeness. I wonder if I told them I was the police, how would they react?

The sun disappeared by the time I went to the park, around 4:20pm (yes, I deliberately arrived then). It had left behind a muggy air that caused me to break a sweat on an otherwise easy walk up to the park.

It was a lovely couple of hours sitting on the perspiring grass with my former colleagues turned friends. We people watched and said hello to fellow friends in passing. Both of them looking peaceful and chill on their blanket. Eyes glazed over and a little smile on their faces as they celebrated 420. The weather began to cool off and we called it a day.

One of my favourite moments in life is the walk to/from somewhere after a good day out. I’m talking, early-ish evening time, the heat remains from the sun but it’s more tolerable. You reach for a hoody to throw over your skimpy clothes as the temperature starts to dip. Shoulders back, head up high, music in ears and a smile on your face. Walking passed busy shops filled with tired professionals and eager students, outdoor dining restaurants with the sound of clinking glasses, takeaways with sizzling, greasy food.

I had an hour before my next 420 ren de vous, the walk was casual, mindful, deliberate. There was no need to rush home and back out again, I had all the time in the world to soak up the atmosphere of a city easing out of lockdown and slipping into summer.

Up the hill, round the back of the house. Up the cobbled street of Back Stanmore Road. I can hear my friends talking already. I see their heads amongst the blackberry bushes which are yet to blossom and bloom. Their fruit will arrive when we have all moved out. I’m greeted with many hellos and hugs. I haven’t seen a couple of them in a long time. Stupid lockdown.

The bonfire was established as I arrived. I took my seat on a wooden palette in the overgrown grass and weeds. We caught up with each other as the sun disappeared and darkness fell all around except for our little garden with our fire. The neighbourhood cat, we named Elba, joined us for the night, thrashing through the grass after our fingers and dancing around the fire, keeping a safe distance as the flames lit up it’s wide eyes.

The fire began to die around 11:00pm. Yawns were passed around the circle and it was time to go home. The bonfire smoke clung to our clothes as we hugged and departed.

It was a good day.

Photo by Kyle Peyton on Unsplash