The following is not an essay about cannabis. I wanted it to be—and truly thought that the conclusions drawn herein would tie to the healing powers of cannabis. But this is an essay without a conclusion. It is an essay about my family, about my people, about fear and stress, and selfishly it is about me. It is a record of experiences, emotions, and angst. It is a record I have put down first and foremost for my baby boy who I hope is too young to remember the events laid out below. A record dedicated to my family, my late father whose grave I have yet to visit, and all of those in our Thai cannabis community affected by the horrors of October 7.
Two Fridays ago, my wife, two-year-old son and I landed in Tel Aviv. We flew to Israel to mark the end of the thirty-day mourning period for my recently deceased father and the unveiling of his gravestone scheduled for the following Sunday morning. We planned to pay our respects to my father while also spending quality time amongst ourselves and my extended Israeli family in a much-needed holiday.
The drive from the airport to my sister’s apartment in north Tel Aviv, where we reunited with my family, was quick and short. We were completely exhausted from flying with a baby, but carried through the day powered by caffein and a boost of adrenaline. Indeed, watching my son play with his cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandmother after half a year apart sparked our otherwise very tired bodies. We caught up, played, laughed, made plans for Sunday’s grave unveiling, celebrated my wife’s birthday, and then surrendered to our exhaustion, making our way to our short-term rental apartment in central Tel Aviv.
After checking in and showering, we collectively passed out. My son and wife slept through the night. I kept waking, annoyed by the constant noise of folks frequenting the numerous clubs and bars in the neighborhood. At 530 that Saturday morning a mass of people congregated outside our balcony, dancing, singing, and joking loudly. From time-to-time cars would drive by blasting music, the bass vibrating the apartment and furniture. Police came through numerous times, blaring their sirens and directing the crowd to disperse. The crowd reluctantly but eventually complied. My wife and son slept through it all.
At around 630 my wife and son began stirring and eventually woke up. I excitedly explained all they had missed while they were sleeping. As if to provide evidence of the previous night’s events, loud bass thuds shook the apartment followed by eerie howling sirens. My wife was less interested in what had happened over night and more focused on breakfast and our plans for the day. As we discussed the day’s plans, my sister began a WhatsApp conversation with me:
“Mendel, are you guys ok?”
“Yes, still in bed but will start slowly moving soon for food, etc. We want to take the baby to the zoo today. What time should we go? And who will join us?”
“Did you not hear the siren?”
“Haha, Mendel, there were sirens—woke us all up! You need to find out which is the safest spot in your apartment. I don’t suggest zoo today.”
“Go to the zoo on Monday if all is well. Today don’t wander much is my suggestion.”
“OK, what happened? I don’t see anything in the news?”
“Rockets all over the country. Do you have a protected room there? Or a staircase?”
“I don’t know.”
“Send your Airbnb guy a message. Basic info.”
“Want to join us for breakfast?”
“No! There are rockets falling in neighborhoods around the country! I think you better come here, but whatever you feel. Usually there is a series of rockets. But it’s not an exact science. The idea is not to be caught out.”
“I think we will be ok—we will have breakfast around here and then come over to your place and figure the day out.”
I sent that last WhatsApp message just as another howling siren commenced quickly followed by the bass like thuds of the Iron Dome missile defense system. Loud explosions of a rocket impacting an apartment building four kilometers away shook us into reality. I looked at my wife and baby and could feel the blood and color draining from my face. My baby began a sing song “WEE WAH WEEH WAH”, his usual response to hearing ambulance sirens in Bangkok. He added a new “BOOM BOOM BOOM” to the refrain while looking at me quizzically. I smiled back at him, forced a laugh, and answered, “BOOM BOOM BOOM!” My wife asked “what should we do?” I replied, “I don’t know.”
I sent the landlord a WhatsApp message: “Hi Shai, is there a shelter in this building? What am I supposed to do.” I could see that the landlord had not been online since 2153 the previous evening. We decided to retreat to my sister’s.
We made our way to the parking garage while glancing at the sky, waiting to see if any rockets would make it our way, listening for sirens. The weather was a perfect 25 degrees centigrade. The skies were deep blue with sparse cotton cirrocumulus clouds adding to a beauty which felt strangely out of place and surreal given we were searching those skies for rockets. The roads and sidewalks were completely deserted except for one man sitting with a radio outside the garage. The announcer reported in Hebrew: “Rocket sirens can now be heard in Jerusalem. We will keep all listeners updated during this developing story.” My heart dropped once more. I did not bother translating. The man with the radio stared at the three of us and gave me a WTF look. I couldn’t tell if the look was a response to the radio report or the fact that my trio was about to get into a car and drive across Tel Aviv.
We made it to my sister’s place swiftly. The television was blaring, my youngest nephew and mother were in deep conversation, and my sister was preparing a breakfast for us.“You know, Mendel,” my sister immediately whispered loud enough for everyone to hear, “you should probably look at flights to get out of here. It looks like this could be bad.”
I looked around the room to see the reaction from the rest of the family. My mother looked disappointed and said, “Just wait—see how things develop.” I nodded agreeing with my mother.
“I don’t know,” my sister jumped in, “Mom just doesn’t want you guys to go.”
“I don’t want to go either. Let’s see how things develop and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
We sat down to a table filled with bagels, cream cheese, white fish salad, lox, and coffee. I devoured breakfast and retreated to the bathroom to freshen up and ended up lost in social media. In the middle of scrolling through my IG feed that haunting howling siren started. I no longer had any doubt what it meant. I ran out and rushed to grab my baby. My wife had already secured him and was walking out the door of the apartment with the rest of my family. My sister waved me through the door, “come on Mendel, it’s time to meet the neighbors.”
The entire apartment building was taking shelter in the stairwell—the safest place to be in a time of rocket attacks. On our floor eight adults, six children and a dog all shared the space with intimate familiarity. My little trio received curious and gleefully excited looks from the neighbors discovering my Thai wife and baby in their midst. My son was equally excited to see the dog.The family next door had just returned two days earlier from Bangkok—they were at Paragon during that fatal shooting and were questioning why they had returned to Israel. I noticed that the mother was wearing a shirt but no bra. She noticed a cannabis leaf on my t-shirt and recommended that it was the appropriate time to light up. That thought had occurred to me. I have a small stash of lemon kush stowed away in Tel Aviv—perhaps that was an opportune time to share it with everyone.My son quickly joined in with his “Wee Wah Wee Wah” and then he added “Boom, Boom, Boom,” with an excited smile. The sirens ended, we waited ten minutes and then everyone shuffled back into their respective apartments.
We walked into scenes of chaos on television. Dozens of gunmen in the back of pick trucks were storming residences in an unidentified Israeli village—shooting indiscriminately. I could not make sense of it. My sister and brother-in-law were glued to their phones, whispering to each other in Hebrew. “They kidnapped a soldier” I heard my sister say. My nephews, fourteen and eleven years old, stared off with worried looks. My youngest nephew asking “what’s going to happen? Will they defeat us?” My mother took over and scolded my sister for “following fake news on social media” and continued trying to comfort my nephew explaining “no, the army has already taken care of those guys, we do not have to worry about them.” My sister said, “Mendel, I think you should get out of here.” My wife looked at me seemingly asking whether it was time to go but said nothing. I sent a message to my travel agent: “Things are looking bad here. You may need to get us out ASAP. Please check available flights—I will confirm shortly.”
The reports on television were growing more concerning. A young woman from a kibbutz close to the border with Gaza had called in to a television show. She begged “I am in my safe room. The terrorists are here. Where is the army?! We need help . . .” and then the line went dead. The faces of the television presenters and everyone in the apartment all had the same shocked, terrified, and helpless look. There were more audible whispers from my sister and her husband, “They’ve kidnapped civilians . . . we can’t let the children see these videos.” Then they both glanced at me and said for all to hear, “Mendel, you need to get out of here.” My mother looked at my wife with tears in her eyes, “you need to call your family and let them know what is happening.”
My wife called her family and I called a close friend at the US Embassy with better access to security information. “Mendel, you need to get out of here. Things are much worse than they look on TV. You have no idea the things I have had to see. It is horrific. Barbaric. Beyond the imagination. They have invaded towns, villages, kibbutzim, even army bases. They have done horrible things. The south is in chaos and the army is not in control. We have no idea how many dead there are. Eventually the army will take control and then the country will be at war. There is nothing for you and your family to do other than go in and out of shelters. Get out.” I hung up. A knot was forming in my throat. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. The muscles in my shoulders and neck tensed. My head was spinning. I wanted to lie down and disappear.
“Daddy, daddy, daddy! Wee Wah Wee Wah! Boom Boom Boom!” In concert with my son, sirens were once more wailing and rockets exploding. I grabbed him and joined the rest of the family moving to the stairwell. All the same neighbors were there—but the nervous excitement of the previous sheltering was now replaced by a knowing and palpable dread. Neighbors looked, nodded, and hunched their shoulders at each other. No one said a word. No one had to say anything—there was a collective understanding that horrible things were happening—we may be stuck sheltering together in Tel Aviv, but we were the lucky ones. We were protected by geography and the Iron Dome. 70 kilometers to the south atrocities outside the realm of our collective imagination were taking place. I handed the baby to my wife and sent a message to our travel agent, “We need you to book us on the next available flight back to Bangkok. Things are bad. Thank you.”
Shortly after we emerged from the stairwell, I received a response confirming we were now booked to return to Bangkok through Dubai the following night. I informed my wife and family. My brother-in-law volunteered “you are doing the right thing. There is no reason for you three to be here.” My mother just lifted her hands in a helpless motion and sadly looked at me as if to say who knows what the right thing is. My wife quickly updated her family back in Bangkok. The news on television, which I concurrently followed online was getting darker and darker. An outdoor music festival celebrating peace had been invaded—reports of massacres, rapes, kidnapping, utter mayhem. Throughout the day the same story was repeated with the same crimes of massacres, rapes, and kidnapping in locations throughout the south of the state. The reports were becoming more detailed and the horror more evident. Senior citizens, holocaust survivors, invalids, groups of Thai and other foreign laborers were kidnapped. Entire families were being murdered. In some locations children were killed in front of their parents. In other locations parents killed in front of their children. The stories would get worse.
A sense of dread, horror, helplessness, sadness, anger, and disgust was growing exponentially within me. So was a new feeling of guilt. If flights continued, my little trio would soon be on our way out—but I was leaving my family behind. I was already imagining my life of comfort back in Bangkok, the things I planned to do to try to destress from the few hours of horror I was exposed to. While I would be surrounded by comfort in Bangkok, my family would have no relief from the continued onslaught of rockets, violence, and imminent war.
We spent the rest of the day together trying to keep the baby entertained. Trying to keep an eye on the TV while keeping the children from the news. Trying to calm the nerves of my nephews with bald-faced lies. “I can’t stay inside much longer” I told my sister. She agreed, it would be best to get outside—but we must stay close to a building to cover during the next rocket volley. We went out to a nearby park—identifying each possible shelter along the way. There was barely anyone was out. A lone man, late middle aged, sat on a bench close to the entrance to the park speaking into a mobile phone, “you can’t believe the images and videos coming out of my base,” he said into the phone, “you’ve never seen any destruction and horror like this. I never thought I would see anything like this. What chaos. What destruction. What death.” I did not bother translating the conversation for my wife.
With the sun beginning to set we ate a quick meal, bathed the baby, and then returned—a bit hesitantly—to our rental apartment. By the time we were back we received instructions to access the building’s “safe floor”. The baby went down easy in his crib. We sat down, trying to take everything into account—trying to wrap our heads around what was happening—reading the news and digesting more of the horrible details of the day.We were beyond stressed, my wife pointed out this would be a good time to smoke a small joint. I had left my stash of lemon kush behind. The thought had crossed my mind to smoke a bit to relieve my nerves and anxiety—but the heightened alert brought on by the stress allowed me to operate quickly. I was afraid of losing any time moving from the apartment to the shelter. Once movement to the shelters became second nature, I would be able to operate with the assistance of cannabis—but not until then. While explaining this to my wife sirens went off followed by the immediate massive burst of rocket fire and responsive Iron Dome projectiles. We grabbed the baby and hurried out the apartment down to the “safe floor”. Two Hungarian women were already in the shelter. Two more women, a mother and daughter from London followed soon behind us. The shelter was warm and stuffy with little air circulation. The younger woman from London was panicky, active with nervous energy—with each of her hurried movements came the strong odor of ripe humanity. I hoped that we would not have to spend too much time together in the shelter. A large explosion went off seemingly above our heads. The young Londoner quickly pulled out her phone and showed us that the rocket had landed 3 kilometers away. We all immediately installed that app. A second siren sounded and then more explosions followed by a seeming silence filled with ambulance sirens. We waited ten minutes and then excused ourselves. “Ladies, I have a feeling we will see each other again.” I told the group as we exited. “I hope I never see you again,” replied the old Londoner.
My baby continued to sleep as we reentered the apartment and lay him back in his crib. “I need to take a shower.” My wife nodded nervously. “I’ll be real quick—if you hear the siren, just grab the baby and start heading to the shelter. I’ll throw on what I can and will come straight down.” I turned the water on and immediately heard the howling of the siren. I quickly turned it off—but the siren disappeared. I turned the water back on and the sound once more commenced—it was just the sound of the pressure pushing the water up and through the shower head. I soaped up—rinsed—toweled off and threw my pajamas on just as the deep bass explosive thuds started over head. I ran out—my wife waiting staring from me to the baby.
“Should we go to the shelter?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t think the siren went off. I think that’s just Iron Dome shooting down rockets somewhere else.”
“So, we shouldn’t go down?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
And then, as if to clarify the appropriate next steps, the siren went off. I ran to the baby, bent deep down into the crib, and lifted him quickly. Too quickly. My right hand slipped as I picked him up—I kept hold of him with my left hand but overcompensated and grabbed his throat inadvertently. I quickly readjusted and help him steady, but he began choking and coughing. As we hurried to the shelter I kept trying to look at his face to see if he was ok. His head was resting on my shoulder, I could not see his face, I only heard his coughs. The same crew was waiting in the shelter for some time—they had entered upon hearing the dull Iron Dome explosions prior to the siren’s howling. We looked at each other—but did not say anything. I kept asking my wife “how is the baby”—and she kept replying, “he’s sleeping—he’s fine.” He kept coughing and I was uncertain. Explosions, more distant than the last, went off distracting me from my son. The Londoners quickly turned to their app—identifying that the explosion was some 6 kilometers to the north of us.
Ten minutes later we returned to the apartment. “The baby is sleeping in bed with us.” I told my wife. “It will save us some time getting from bed to the shelter.” It would also save my son from inadvertent choking. “I don’t think we will be sleeping tonight,” she responded. We lay in bed, the baby between us, staring at that app. Watching updates of continuous rocket volleys into Israel. Tracing each rocket’s fall, the distance from us, my family to the north, my cousins, aunt and uncle to the south, and my father’s still unveiled grave.
“My family says the Thai army is sending a plane to evacuate all Thai citizen from Israel—they want to know if we would like to fly back on it?” my wife asked.
I was surprised and confused, “Really? The army? I don’t know. I guess if they cancel our flight tomorrow it would be good to have a backup. Can I even get on the flight? I’m not a Thai citizen?”
“It should be ok, we will figure it out. But we should put our names on the list fast so we are alerted when the flight gets in.”
“OK, let’s see how things are in the morning.”
Sirens kept waking me through the night. Each time I jumped out of bed ready to grab the baby and run—but each time the stress and shock gave way to a feeling of relief realizing it was just an ambulance—and then guilt realizing the ambulance was on its way to treat someone hurt or perhaps worse. My wife, clutching a phone ever vibrating with each rocket shot at Israel, slept through the night—as did our baby. I slept on and off between those ambulance sirens—checking to see if my flight was still scheduled—checking where rockets were falling—reading the news—getting a glimpse of reality—and many times the raw sight of the atrocities and the fighting ongoing 70 kilometers to the south. The numbers of dead kept rising as did the numbers of babies, children, men, women, and old folks kidnapped. Things were bad in a way past the capabilities of my imagination.
I woke to a WhatsApp message from my mother, “The service for Dad’s unveiling is cancelled. It is too dangerous to be in open spaces right now. The graveyard is off limits.” I wrote back, “OK.” My poor Dad. This trip was supposed to be about him. To honor his life, spirit, and soul. Instead, that Sunday morning I was more pre-occupied with safely getting breakfast—checking out from our apartment—spending time with my family—and then making our way to the airport, making our way back to Bangkok. My Dad—a man who is very much responsible for who I am and all I have today—was far from my primary thought that morning. He deserves more than this.
My wife began to stir awake, grabbing for her phone to check her messages and updates. “They closed Israeli airspace—the Thai army will not be able to land their plane until its open again.”
“Are you serious I asked?” My heart dropped—this means that flying out either on our scheduled flight or the army flight would not be happening. I checked the airline app. “But—the app shows that our flight is still scheduled for tonight. Are you sure?” I heard a plane fly above us—perhaps a military jet?
“That’s what the Thai press is reporting.”
I messaged my buddy at the US Embassy: “Did Israel close its airspace to international flights?”
The immediate and irritated response: “No, which idiot told you that! Don’t spread false information!”
“Sorry, there was supposed to be an evacuation flight, but they are saying it can’t get in because the airspace is closed.”
“Don’t waste my time with this bullshit, just check flight radar on google. You’ll see flights are operating.”
Indeed, I checked the website and flights were continuing over Israel. I showed the message and the radar to my wife, “I think we will have a better chance getting back to Bangkok on our scheduled flight.” She nodded in agreement. “Let’s go out for breakfast,” I continued, “I need to get out. I can’t stay in any longer. Let’s stay close to buildings. If we hear a siren—we can go inside to a shelter.”
We slowly packed up the baby and his stroller—his milk, water, and diapers—and made our way down to the sidewalk. It was 8am on Sunday morning—the first day of the Israeli work week—but the city was deserted. Barely any cars were on the road, and the drivers in those few cars which passed gave us curious, sad but understanding looks. They had chosen to go out as well. A large truck pulled up and parked alongside us. The driver popped out and pulled open the back showing a trailer filled with eggs. “It’s a complete catastrophe. It’s a complete mess. There is nothing. There is no state. There is no protection. There is nothing. What are we supposed to do?” He stared at me as if waiting for an answer.
I stared back and mumbled, “It’s really bad. I don’t know.”
“I have a truck full of eggs. Everything is closed. Everyone is at home. What am I supposed to do with all these eggs!” He left a large box of eggs in front of a shuttered café and jumped back into his truck, muttering to himself as he drove off.
We continued walking towards our café of choice. Most places were closed—and I made it a point to make note of any open café in case ours was closed and we had to double back for breakfast. We smelled the familiar and comforting smoke of cannabis wafting through the air. “That’s the first thing that seems normal—which smells like Tel Aviv” commented my wife. We got closer to the source, a solitary woman sitting outside her empty café, looking off into the distance with a pensive look on her face. We smiled and nodded at her—trying to convey that we were with her that we were on the same wavelength. She looked back at the three of us—raised an eyebrow seemingly hoping that we would not come in and disturb her moment of peace. We did not. She continued smoking.
Eventually we made our slow walk to Delicatessen, a New York style eatery, one of my favorite breakfast places in Tel Aviv and coincidently one of the few open that morning. We sat outside on the patio—three other tables were filled with regulars, one table had a dog. The mood at each table was the same, shock, horror, helplessness. “We have no choice—we are going to war,” was repeated by everyone. My boy ran around, alternating between climbing on the electric rental scooters which litter Tel Aviv’s sidewalks to communicating with the dog. An older man, the owner of the dog, called out to my son in heavily accented English, “you can play with the dog, he is very friendly.” That was enough for my baby to walk up to the dog, wave, and then scream in the dog’s face “Hiyo!” The man smiled at my baby and then turned to a friendly and caring interrogation of me in Hebrew. “Where is your wife from? You have an accent when you speak Hebrew, New York? Is your wife scared? What is it like to live in Thailand? I have a friend in Phuket, he invited me to visit, should I go? Do you feel safe here with your family—are you thinking of returning to Thailand? Why did you come to Israel now? How old was your father—what did he die from? What is your son’s name? Was he scared from the explosions? What does your wife’s family think of what is happening—are they scared? You’re heading back tonight?! Why?!” I answered all his questions and then he politely excused himself, apologized that he had some errands to take care of, and went off on his way. I was sad to see him go.
We soon went back ourselves. Heading right past the same woman still alone smoking some unidentifiable kush, gazing far into the distance but looking at nothing. We checked out of the apartment. Drove to my sister’s and spent the rest of the day with family. Waiting for rockets. Listening for sirens. All while checking for updates on our flight and watching the clock tick towards departure time. My youngest nephew complained to me with a reflection of my own thoughts, “You came all this way to Israel and you are already leaving. We never get to see and play with the baby. We have had less than two days, it’s not fair.” No, I concurred, it is not fair. “You are going back to Thailand—when will you come back to Israel.” I assured him I would be back as soon as I could to see him and to finally pay respects at my father’s grave. “Yes, you always come, but you never bring the baby! When will you bring him?!” I had no answer—how long indeed would it be? We are just at the beginning of this war, how long will it last? What will things look like after the war? Nothing will ever be the same. My mother, my sister, brother-in-law, nephews, my extended family in the south, my friends, my people, I will leave them all behind to fight and survive the war, to transition to a new reality, while I go back to my own comfortable life in my own reality. Watching and waiting—a faraway observer detached from the struggles of my own flesh and blood.
We drove off too soon after that. Dropped the car at the rental lot and jumped into the shuttle for the airport. The van was packed, my wife and baby sat in the back with an orthodox family, I sat in front with the driver. “Brother,” he said to me in Hebrew, “can you believe what they did to us? I can’t sleep. I can’t think. I don’t know what to do. It’s savage. It’s not human. It’s beyond the imagination. I need to show you this video of what they did to us.” While holding the van’s steering wheel with his left hand he pulled his phone out with his right hand and played a video of a young woman, soiled, covered in blood and filth, violently being hauled away by multiple gunmen in masks. The woman cried out in horror as the terrorists pushed her around and congratulated themselves. A voice from the back of the van protested, “Driver, can you please turn that off? We have children here.” The driver apologized and put his phone away. I cried until we got to the terminal. The driver helped us unload our bags, “What are we going to do, brother?” He asked me. “I don’t know—we will do what we have to do.” He nodded while looking at the ground, “We have no choice. We will do what is necessary to survive.”
The airport was packed with people. Crowds moved in an orderly fashion through the usual security stops and procedures. Nothing was out of the ordinary other than the mass of people and the slightly longer time to get through each step. We got through immigration and made our way towards the gate passing multiple signs indicating the closest shelter. We passed two janitors in conversation, “yesterday at 2030 it was crazy. The siren went off and everyone went running. All the employees lay down on the ground and covered their heads. It was terrifying—I have never seen anything like this.” I translated this for my wife and regretted doing so, realizing that she was now sharing my fears and stress. Our flight was set to board at 1930—we had an hour. My boy was antsy—I picked him up out his stroller and walked him over to the window. “Planes! Planes! Planes!” He began excitedly pointing and shouting at the top of his lungs. Kind onlookers smiled, laughed, and commented on how cute he was. His attention turned to a security van crossing the airport tarmac. He pointed once more screaming, “Van, Van, Van,” and“Wee Wah Wee Wah . . . Boom Boom Boom!” The smiles and laughs vanished from the faces and were replaced by grim looks of understanding. We sat at the gate waiting, messaging our families we had safely made the gate. I messaged my partners at HighThailand getting responses of relief from them.
We were on the plane. The baby was jumping up and down watching in delight as more children boarded, some tugging their parents, other gently dragged on. The plane was filling up fast and the attendants were readying for a capacity flight. A message in the HighThailand Line group stated “I hope you are already in the air.” I confirmed that I was not—but made sure not to check the news. At this point ignorance was bliss—I could guess the root of the worry. We taxied—I messaged my family we were about to take off—the engines rumbled and we were up in the air as my baby excitedly flapped his little arms assisting our ascent. We flew north and then east with a full and beautiful view of Tel Aviv lit up—I looking out hoping to see my sister’s apartment building and glance my family—hoping not to see rockets. I believe I saw her building. Three seats sat empty opposite to where my little group was sitting. An annoyed man approached a flight attendant, “My wife had to fly on a separate flight—we were told this one was sold out!” She replied, “This flight is sold out—these seats are booked—the passengers never showed up.” He silently turned around and sat back in his seat. I messaged back to the HighThailand line group, “We are up in the air, on our way to Dubai, will be back in Bangkok tomorrow midday.” “Good,” came the response. I checked the news, the terrorists had announced half an hour back that they were targeting the airport.
Coming back to Bangkok was difficult, more difficult at first than being in Israel, but gradually things got better. Today, the day this essay is published, I feel more or less normal, I feel like myself. It has taken me ten days to write this essay and the purpose and message has changed significantly. As mentioned in the prologue I initially wanted to highlight how cannabis, which I dove back into upon my return to Bangkok, helped me get through the stress. I wanted to highlight one of my favorite tropes “All cannabis use is health use”. The truth is that while cannabis did help—I cannot sit back and pretend that it fixed me—and I have no desire to tie this personal and family experience to cannabis education. I just want you—my community to know what I went through.
Upon our return to Bangkok I jumped and my heart raced at the sound of any ambulance siren. My baby continued his “Wee Wah Wee Wah, Boom Boom Boom” chant followed those wailings. 24 hours after our return the “Wee Wah Wee Wah” continued, and continues to date, but thankfully that Boom Boom Boom is now forgotten. After 24 hours sirens no longer scared or alerted me to seek safety—but as I write this line, I cannot dissociate the sound of sirens from rockets.
Cannabis mitigated but it did not cure. The first night back in Bangkok I smoked a gram of Sweet Sixteen. An excellent balanced bud which relaxed me, took the edge off my stress, but did not slow my thoughts or mask them. Indeed, if anything it allowed me to process my thoughts—manage my stress in a methodical manner. It gave me the ability to understand and identify my emotions, focus on them—but by no means was I able to separate myself from them. Over the next few days, I turned to other strains: Animal Runtz, Sour Alien, Chem Dawg, Sherb and Sour, Jealousy. The effects varied, but each had the therapeutic effect of isolating my stress and emotions. Allowing me the capability to observe myself, dissect my own psyche, but never allowing me to separate from that stress and those emotions. Truth be told, that was my goal, one I still have not been able to achieve.
Human interaction was (and at times can still be) difficult. Receiving messages form acquaintances and friends congratulating me on returning to Bangkok, asserting how relieved and happy I must be to be back home, was very difficult. I was never “relieved or happy” to be back home in Bangkok—I felt guilty and felt that I abandoned my family and my people in a time of trauma and need. Worse were those eager to discuss massacres, next steps, strategy, history of the region and politics with me. These discussions set me on edge and made me feel like retreating further away from anything public.
But there were areas of comfort—most notably from within our own cannabis community. Misery loves company and there is no shortage of folks who have been affected by those horrors. Our cannabis community is a growing community with relatives, friends and loved ones working in farms on the border with Gaza. Thai workers were kidnapped, maimed, killed. The terrorists targeted them for some unfathomable reason—everything about this is unfathomable—calling out to them in Thai to emerge from hiding places. I am eternally grateful to all my friends, brothers and sisters in the industry who reached out to me sharing their sympathy and their own pain. There is a strong bond between the cannabis community in Israel and our Thai cannabis community. There are many Israeli growers, consultants and partners in Thailand who are going through the horrors away from their damaged homes. To everyone affected, you are my brothers and sisters, you have my undying support, and I am so very grateful for the support you have shown me. To my own family, friends and loved ones back in Israel, just know I love you and am thinking of you. I’m sorry I am not there with you—you are always on my mind.