Sometimes I look back at my life and wonder if it could've been different. I lie here, and I wonder.

The "multiverse" theory - the idea that all of reality is composed of many different parallel universes, tied together yet somehow not the same. The theory states that for every decision ever made, several universes exist. Thus if I decide on eating steak tonight, in another parallel universe I'm actually eating chicken, and in another I'm eating lamb chops, and in another I'm eating fried squirrel, and so on. There are times when I think about my parallel selves; do they talk like me? Do they think like me? Do we share ambitions, desires, goals and ideals? Did they make the same mistakes I did?

I remember that day so clearly. I was standing in my bathroom, staring at the mirror, trying to figure out if this was me. I was 14, scared, yet so interested. I thought long and hard about what I was doing, perhaps too hard and too long. I knew the risks, and I knew what I was getting myself into. I wasn't doing this to be cool, or to make friends, or to rebel against my parents. I did it because I knew I would, eventually. The psychology behind the high is what drove me to take that first hit. I stood there with a tin foiled water bottle and a lighter. It burned so fast. The bottle filled quicker than I had expected, but I didn't cough. I inhaled, deep. The grassy taste of chlorophyll lingered. Free weed is usually pretty shitty.

Gateway drug - that's what they called it in the D.A.R.E videos. Not that I ever payed too much attention to those things; drugs were simply not applicable to me at the time. I didn't care for them or about them. I knew all I needed to know: drugs are bad. I figured I was smart enough to "just say no," so why did it matter? Perhaps a parallel version of myself paid more attention to all the anti-drug brainwashing they force down our throats from 5th grade on. Would it have made a difference? It's hard to tell. Granted, at the time I was already very much against drugs, so I don't think more "education" or "reeducation" or whatever you want to call it would have changed my mind about anything, but this wasn't a decision I made with my mind. This decision came from somewhere else, though I don't know where. Can D.A.R.E videos really get rid of the burning desire to somehow, someway, escape a reality that is just too real?

I had to put my cigarette out to catch up to them, they were running so fast. They dashed over walls and hedges and sprinted through the parking lot to his truck. It was lifted, 6 inches or so, with wheels that came up to my waist. It was a monster of a thing. Danny held the door for me and I crawled into the back seat, wondering what could possibly prompt such a sprint.
"Where are we going?"
"You'll see."
The drive was short, after all Danny lived right off of campus. He doesn't live there anymore, his parents kicked him out when he dropped out of high school. Dave isn't around anymore either. He went up north and got into some kind of car accident which payed out big money. The three of us scrambled out of the car and both of them took off running again to get up to Danny's room. Once safely inside, it came out. A little bag, probably worth 30 or 40 dollars at most. Dave sold this stuff, so he didn't have to pay anything. It was cut at least a few times, but it didn't matter because Miami coke is probably some of the best stuff out there. I was nervous, yet eager at the same time. We were all crouched on different sides of his bed, me toward the foot board, Dave cutting up a few lines to my right, and Danny by his closet on my left, smiling wider than I had ever seen before. Danny took the first line in one long hit, searching around with the straw for any bits of coke he had missed. He proceeded to fall backwards into the closet, his arms outstretched, his eyes closed and a huge smile on his face. David took the next one. His reaction was less dramatic, though I could tell the second it hit him. He raised his eyebrows and rubbed his eyes, then passed me the magazine and the straw. I hardly had to think twice. I watched the coke disappear into the straw like sawdust into a vacuum. It was poetic, almost.

The problem with drug education programs in this country is they never tell the whole truth. They're very good at teaching you street names, and the various side effects of drug use, yet they never tell you what it actually feels like to be high. When a high school kid tries pot for the first time because his friends are all doing it, he's expecting something horrible to happen. He's expecting to become some kind of crazed fiend, itching all over and offering blowjobs for crack money. When that same high school kid gets very high, every dollar spent to "educate" him about the dangers of drugs goes down the toilet. "I wasn't expecting this," he thinks, "this is awesome!". I believe school boards are aware of this problem, but don't want to fix it. They've decided the best method of keeping kids away from drugs is scaring them into thinking there are no positive effects of doing drugs whatsoever. They think this, probably, because that's how it was when they were kids, and they stayed away from drugs didn't they? That's what they say to themselves at least, as they spark a joint or do a line in the privacy of their own bedroom.

My mother came home quite late. I was watching Jeopardy or some other shitty pre-prime time show when I heard the garage open. I got up to greet her. I waited for a minute, then decided to check the garage to see if it was actually her or if I was hearing things. She opened the door as I reached to grab the knob. Her eyes were red and she was exhausted; she spoke slowly and her head hung limp. She told me she had taken a Percocet because she was so overworked lately. I believed her, I had hardly seen her all week. She went upstairs to her bed, bidding me good night in the process.

As I sat back down to continue watching TV I thought about what I had just seen. My mother had been, and continues to be, a source of guidance for me. She was the closest thing I had to a role model. To see her high on Oxycodone drastically changed my thought process. Suddenly, opiates were fair game. After all, even my own mother used them on occasion. You can imagine what the next few months were like.

Too often do I think about how it all started. I wonder, I fantasize, if I could go back in time and change the outcome of any one event, what would it be? Would I be able to convince myself not to take that first hit? How about that first line, or that first pill? Why did I do those things in the first place?

It seems to come together. The mutliverse theory is bullshit. I am who I am, and because of this I make my own choices. Even if there is a parallel "clone19" in another universe, that person is not me. The sum total of everything I am is a collection of experiences, some good and some bad. If anything were to change about those experiences, everything that I am today would change; I would be a different person.

In the words of Martin Luther, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.

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