By Carlos Swan

Meditate on how well you know the neighborhood you live in.

What kind of food can one throw down on? What’s the scope on the people lurking around and going about their merry business? They seem to have full bellies and fiendish looks on their faces. The feeling is that they know a thing or two about the places to pop into and rather let the rest of the jokers find out on their own. All we got to do is pay attention to what is already here and open our stomachs to the possibility of absolute bliss.

Recently on a damn fine sunny day I decided to go on a food pilgrimage to Gyro House on SE 82nd Ave., just a baseball toss from Eastport Plaza. It’s tucked away and hidden by the glaring signs of Pizza Hut, Burger King and Jack in the Crack aka Jack in the Box. I call those traps for the people short on time, giving into a guilty pleasure and or just don’t know any better. I’m thankful for this because of the short lines it produces at the great places.

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At 11:55 am I mowed down two WYLD Canna Chocolates to get the party started. Then I began walking across the parking lot of the gym headed to the Green Line max stop at SE Main Street. On my way, in the grass on the side of the road, I found an interesting hand written cardboard sign. It read: “Will take verbal abuse for money. 420!” I picked it up because it proved I was right where I needed to be in the world.

The max zoomed me back home in a few minutes and I took off on the back roads to reach my destination. I bobbed and weaved my way through the Jade District with Rumble and 4th Chamber rattling in my headphones. Eyes bent to the street and ready for the sights to peek on. The edibles were kicking in from all the walking and I felt a pleasant lightness.

I have always enjoyed how edibles slow down time, in the sense that I don’t stress time like I do straight as an arrow. It doesn’t feel as heavy and stomping forward. Time goes fast, but when I quite paying attention to it, it’s just time, slow and steady.

Edibles provide a better high for me because the high comes from within and builds over time. I feel like I’m peeling off my shell. I’m free flowing and not as rigid. They make me a little wobbly at first, but that’s just me getting used to being lighter and uplifted.

I stumbled a bit as I walked in the front door of Gyro House because I was stoned and the glare from outside was blinding. The first situation I encounter caught me off guard, but then I remembered the rough reputation of my hood and I decided to just sit back for the show. This woman in pajama pants with lips tattooed to the back of her neck was asking hollow questions and trying to haggle the cashier for the baked treats at the counter.

She didn’t understand why she couldn’t buy just one of six doughnuts in a prepackaged box. “I don’t need that many, like seriously. I mean I don’t have the money for all of them, but I really want one you know? Are you sure you can’t make me a deal?”

Even my stoniness didn’t generate a sense of empathy for this person. She was being rude because of her own dumb problem. Not cool! I realized we could be nicer to the people serving our food. Say thank you as much as possible. Clean up your god damn mess. And don’t haggle. Simple plan and you can thank Adele playing on the radio for inspiring the humanity in me.

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Finally it was my turn and I was starting to get hungry. My senses told me to get the chicken gyro. The smell gravitating from behind counter was evidence enough that no choice would go unrewarded. My reward was drenched in Tzatziki, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy garlic sauce and feta. Don’t forget a pile of house cut fries and a Mexican Coke to wash it all down.

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As I waited for the behemoth lunch to arrive, I happen to recognize this rough looking hillbilly hybrid sitting down across the way. I quickly looked away to avoid eye contact and looking at his buddy slopping food all over. He had a Canby Cougars baseball hat on. It took me back to a little rivalry my baseball team had with theirs growing up. Some drama happened with them way back and my dad, not to mention the rest of us, had a hard time forgiving them. To prove a point, we ran a victory lap on their field when we beat them in their own tournament. They tried to take the trophy away. It didn’t end well.

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The food comes and I’m at a loss for words. I find myself focused on all the colors and textures poking out of the pita bread. The girth of the gyro impresses me a lot and I’m stuck for a moment on how I will get the whole hog down in one sitting. A feat I couldn’t do unless I was high. The high helps me not pay attention to my stomach filling at a incredible rate. It helps me focus on getting the fucking delicious flavors in my mouth as fast as possible.

I gave it the good old college try, but couldn’t finish the beast. I took the rest to go so I wouldn’t crap my pants on the way to Mt. Tabor. No doubt Honey would be delighted with the leftover bites anyway. On that note, I scooted out the door destined to go up on the mountaintop and think for a bit. I planned to smoke a bone and ponder my next moves in the sunshine.

The bus ride over was a hoot and the openness the edibles produce in me is always fun. My soul is open to the people milling in and out of the bus. I love to just sit back and listen. Weird and beautiful shit always comes to me. I can’t make it up and don’t have a reason to.

Out of my corner of my eye I think I saw Benjamin Button on the 75 going east. I had to look three times. It was this old granny talkin’ some shit about Peanut MM’s and the candy coating.

“Sharp! But by god they’re good! I’m telling ya! I got’em for a hell of a deal at Winco my friend. Woo!”

I got off at the next stop. Jesus she was so old and happy as a damn peach. “Thank you honey, I appreciate it,” was the last words she squealed before exiting the bus.

This experience confirms a few things for me. I love riding public transit and people watching. Headphones in with no sound and listening deep to the sounds around me. It’s invigorating.

On my way to the mountain top I came across a few young jokers sitting in a circle, passing the piece pipe around. They seemed a little nervous. At first I wanted to laugh and celebrate the green freedom. Slowly I realized the foolishness at hand. I looked at them and shook my head. Sure it’s legal to smoke cannabis, but I’m going to pull the old man card and say we shouldn’t be smoking right in the open on SE 60th Ave. at the base of Mt. Tabor during rush hour. It goes back to the old saying; “All it takes is one dumbass to ruin it for the rest of us.”

Be my guest in getting stoned, but don’t risk your freedom to smoke the chronic by making a bad choice in where you launch into a mind ride. Pop back into the trees at least!

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