I met Nick in high school: Back then, he really liked me, but I blew him off for someone else. Fifteen years later, we reconnected at a wedding. I’d heard that in the meantime he became a professional soccer player and part-time surfer. When I saw him, I noticed he had a great body, but he didn’t seem like the professional-athlete type ... not anymore, at least. He had long hair, tattoos, a super-easy-going demeanor — basically, he seemed like he came to the wedding straight from Burning Man. I remember thinking, So, Nick is a full-blown hippie?
But we had a great time. I liked him. He told me he was living in California, working in “sustainable agriculture,” and I said, “Like … you grow eggplants?” He said, “Yeah, something like that.”
He was nervous around me — I assumed that was because I hurt him when we were younger. I spent the next few weeks assuring him via text that I was interested in dating him, and that I had grown up. He flew to New York to see me, and on our first night together I said, “So, explain ‘sustainable farming'?”
“Well, I grow things,” he said.
“Like what?” I said.
He took a deep breath. “I grow pot,” he said. “I grow it really well. And I make a good living.”
He proceeded to explain that a few years ago, he had gotten so burnt out on professional sports that he quit his team and retreated into the woods. He needed to be in nature. He needed a time-out from life.
When he reemerged, he was a changed person. He made some new friends who got him interested in growing weed. Nick listened and learned, and tried to grow his own batch on a small scale — he was good at it. He had a green thumb. He improved on what he was taught, honed his craft.
Soon after, he invested all his money into this new business endeavor. But he made one crucial mistake that first time around … and killed an entire crop. He lost everything. From that experience (which was really rough), he learned how delicate the balance is and how on point a good farmer has to be. The next crop was the best he, or anyone around him, ever produced. And that kicked off a serious business. He bought his own house and land, and quickly started making well over six figures a year, doing what he loves in a peaceful place. It is a cash business, and of course there are risks, but he’s doing as much “by the books” as possible.
I wasn’t taken back by what he did for work, just that he didn’t tell me sooner. In fact, I was impressed and intrigued. But it quickly went from being something fascinating to discuss with him to a question of how the hell I was going to tell anybody else.
Nick has a “front” that he uses when he has to: He says he’s in the hotel business, because his family does own a small hotel. For the first six months we dated, I’d tell friends that my new boyfriend worked in “sustainable agriculture in California.” It’s hard to say with a straight face, though, and it’s hard to keep track of which stories we told which people. Now I tell most friends the truth. Almost always, their response is, Very cool. Right on! A few have said, Yeah, I was a drug dealer in college. I get it. But I’m like, Um, no, he’s not slingin’ 8-bags in the street.”
I haven’t really told my parents. They smoke pot; they’re not saints. But even so, my mom probably won’t want me dating someone in that industry. I think she’d be concerned about my reputation. We’ll stick to the hotel plotline for her. And even for me, there’s a weird balance between the stuff I want to know, and don’t want to know. Like, how it gets from point A to point B … I don’t need to know that (and he doesn’t want to tell me).
Of course there’s an element of danger. It’s still a drug. And it’s a really good product — which makes the stakes even higher. I don’t know, or want to know, if he owns a gun on the farm. But I doubt it. He’s very smart and aware, plus he’s a former professional athlete and in incredible physical condition. I never worry.
The healing properties and positive aspects of it all are what really interest him. His friends are all in the business — they’re a bunch of entrepreneurial hippies. They have these intense high-level conversations about their industry, as if it were banking or art. And it’s extremely hard work: He’s working the land every day, sometimes into the night. When I was last there, he was up very late cutting up buds, and awake very early vacuum-sealing these big green bags together. He was putting together a big order, one of many.
I barely smoke, so it’s all somewhat wasted on me. I’m told the product is excellent. That makes me very proud.