I recently found myself in the beautiful mountain town of Aspen, Colorado for the inaugural Aspen Summer Holiday. Presented by Men’s Vows and One Colorado, the weekend of events brought together a group of fun gay men from around the world. With mixers, dance parties, and a fashion show by Mr. Turk, it was all the gay vacation fun you could ask for.
As a young gay man with social anxiety, it’s a bit more than I asked for. I’ve never been much for scenes and parties. Although it was a purely enjoyable weekend, I had difficulty getting out of my head.
Enter legal marijuana. One of the few states to jump on the recreational bandwagon, Aspen’s 420 culture is about as natural as barhopping in the West Village of New York. With multiple dispensaries that come with knowledgeable bartenders, it’s a perfectly laidback little town to experience a quality buzz.
I should mention that I’d never been fully before. I went to a liberal enough college that I’d taken a hit of a friend’s pipe here and there and found myself in more than one hot boxed car in the middle of the woods. But that was the minor leagues, mere contact highs.
In this case, I had a figurative (and literal) candy store of weed at my disposal. I chose a simple vape pen and a cannabis-infused root beer.
With a few friends, both old and new, we set up a little private party on the rooftop of the historic Hotel Jerome. One of Aspen’s oldest establishments, it’s filled with the character and style that attracted the likes of Hunter S Thompson and Jack Nicholson.
With a prime mountain view and some ‘90s hits on shuffle, we dug into our new stash like children going through their stocking on Christmas morning. As with any deliciously-crafted cocktail, I forgot to pace myself with my root beer. Once that was done, I was just steadily taking hits of my trusty little pen.
It was the first time I experienced an actual full-fledged high. The typical pseudo-intellectual philosophies were exchanged as we matched each other’s buzz, but ultimately it was a familiar feeling of adolescent oblivion that I hadn’t felt for years. And I loved it. In our state of inebriated camaraderie, we promised to look out for each other throughout the evening.
That came in handy at the next event, the daily pool party. As any gay man with a less-than-perfect physique knows, being surrounded by a bunch of half-naked “Insta hunks” can feel like a repressed high school memory. Add a sudden extreme high that finally hits a few minutes after finishing off my pen, and you have a strung-out anxiety-riddled gay man.
Luckily, we mostly stuck together, forming what appeared to be a conversational circle. But I realized none of us were talking, and we were literally hanging around each other to avoid the socially awkward potential of communicating with a non-high person. That’s when I started hysterically laughing.
For a first trip to Aspen and a first dive off the deep end of legal marijuana, it was a horribly unnerving but beautiful experience. It helps having a group of friends who are willing to take the dive with you.
Glenn Garner is an assistant editor for Out Magazine and Out Traveler, as well as a frequent contributor to BlackBook. He’s also written for Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, NewNowNext, Into, and Bello Magazine. In addition to writing, he contributes on occasion as a photographer and video producer.