Misguided friendship – I was a young environmental researcher

Misguided friendship - I was a young environmental researcher

A few years ago, I was a young environmental researcher, living in a remote forest. By remote, I mean five, maximum 10, people and the nearest town was a 30 minute drive – not that we had a car. To say the residents of the forest, including myself, were oddballs would be fair. We were mostly solo creatures who kept to ourselves.

There was one girl that I got along with, called Katie. We often did our research together and hung out in the evenings sometimes. But when she left a few months later after finishing her research, I decided I should make more effort to talk to people. There had been one guy I had chatted to a bit, Pablo, but English was not his first language and I spoke too rapidly for him to understand most the time. We also thought that we did not have much in common. Until one day we discovered we did have one shared interest: marijuana. Hence Pablo became my dealer.

For the next couple of weeks, after everyone was asleep, I would sneak out of my cabin and into the forest where no one could see me. Whilst looking around and being paranoid, I would hastily smoke a joint and then creep back to my room. Drugs were forbidden at the research center and some of the other residents were quite conservative.

But slowly Pablo and I started smoking marijuana together, as usually happens with smokers,
especially since we were the only two there. The more we smoked together, the more we talked and got to know each other. We started discussing spirituality and ancient Greek philosophy. At some point (maybe because of the rain, us getting complacent about the risk of being caught or just because we were becoming friends), we started smoking in each other’s cabins. Pablo would tell me about his life: he had been both a monk and a shaman during his forty-something years. I especially liked the way he described the interactions between people. When he was in the monastery, Pablo
said most of the monks were gay, and that is why they joined. They used to play mind games with each other, which is something I found very fascinating. Pablo shared his music and even wrote me a poem. He gave me a nickname (Duchess) and we became good friends.

Then a festival was happening in a city a few hours away. We decided to go and did not think any of the other people at the research centre would want to join – not that we asked them. Before we left, Pablo warned me that he was bisexual, but he was very picky: only young, beautiful and intelligent partners. This did not matter, or seem relevant, to me and we set off on the long journey
to the festival.

The festival was a lot of fun. We had some drinks, did some dancing and were generally have a good time. We were on a dance floor and there was a group of teenage boys nearby. One kept looking over at Pablo and they kept catching each other’s eye. Eventually, Pablo winked at him. The boy turned red but smiled before walking away with his friends. The whole thing was fascinating to me.

As the festival went on, Pablo and I got more drunk. I was chatting to a guy and I could see Pablo was getting jealous, which annoyed me. So I kept flirting was the guy and eventually made out with him until Pablo said we had to go. In my alcohol-filled state, I became enraged and started yelling at him that he could not control me. He confessed he did it because he liked me, which had never crossed
my mind, maybe because the marijuana had been clouding my judgement. Looking back, I should
have known, as he wrote me that poem and kept asking about my sexual history. But I no romantic
feelings for him so I had just assumed he did not either.

So after yelling drunk for a while and me making a scene by crying hysterically, we were both mentally broken. It started to rain and we were both tired, meaning neither of us felt like staying up all night partying, which had been the (ill-thought-out) plan. We started going around all the hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, but they were all full. Eventually, we did find a place on the outskirts of the city that only had one double room left. Thankfully, Pablo offered to sleep on the floor. Neither of us slept much because things were so awkward after the fight. The next morning was uncomfortable too but over the course of the day, we did make peace and things went back to normal. In fact, I think the fight made our friendship stronger.

After a while of being back in the forest, I decided to asked Pablo about the incident at the festival where the boy kept looking over at him. It had been on my mind for a while and I always found Pablo’s narration of his interactions with people fascinating. He said that in the gay community, extended glances were one way of letting someone know that you liked them. To me, this boy looked around 16. Pablo went on to say that in ancient Greek times, the elite men used to initiate young boys in sex. Pablo had been telling me about Greek culture but this was an aspect he had not mentioned before. Maybe it was the marijuana or the fact that he was the only friend I had there, but I did not think anymore about it, even after he told me that he himself had ‘initiated’ boys as young as 14. He said that it helped young people who were confused and needed guidance. I almost forgot about our conversation, or maybe I chose to ignore it. We continued to hang out and smoke as usual until my research contract ended a few months later.

After I left the forest, I met up with some friends and traveled around the country a bit. I saw Pablo once more when he randomly showed up in a hostel I was staying in. But when I was home and back in a functional society, I no longer smoked as much marijuana. I was able to realize that I am not at my peak mental ability when always high and that Pablo did not bring out the best in me. Pablo continued to send unrequited messages me, saying he wanted to visit, and he sent more poems. He even sent a recording of him playing guitar and singing a song he wrote for me, where the chorus was ‘I wanted to fu-ck you!’ I think he was drunk when he sent that though. Eventually I saw clearly what he was; a paedophile, a creep, constantly trying to seduce me, like he had done to others more vulnerable than me. I also later learnt that the few Greeks who had ‘initiated’ young boys had been killed, as most the society knew it was wrong. Rather than telling Pablo how I felt, I just cut him out and ignored all his messages, which he continued to send occasionally over the next four years. I do not know where he is now, although I do think of him sometimes, if only to remind myself what a bad judge of character I can be, especially when I smoke marijuana.

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