I'm in a big room that has an indoor track. A ceiling-high wall lines the inside of the track, creating a grey, oval, walled-in area in the center. A game/exercise/race is going on. I'm part of it, as well as a number of others, almost all young men and boys (many are high school age). We are running around, but not as a group. Each person is at their own pace, their own spot on the track. I'm not really taking it seriously; I'm just doing it for fun. Bow S. is standing on the side. There are specific little commands we have to follow, such as having to run backwards for a number of the laps. I seem to think that I should be tired now, out of breath, but I'm not yet. I can feel that it's getting near the end b/c some people pick up their pace -- a group of high school guys (Jamaal? John Jarrell?). There are four laps left. The next instruction has something to do with a greeting card, finding and carrying one for the last few laps. I run around once without one but then see a box of cards, new and covered with clear plastic. I grab it and open it as I run. I pull one out. It has a colorful picture/cartoon and a long piece of blue writing on the front. At first I think it's religious, like a quote from the Bible. I see the word "affirmation". Then I realize it has to do with alcoholism. It's also funny and makes me laugh. I wonder what it says on the inside, but I want to concentrate on the race right now. I clutch the card in my hand for my last 3 laps. I'm running as fast as I can and see that others now are too. I'm on my last lap. I see the finish line (where I started) up ahead. I pass a little boy as I sprint toward the end. As I reach the line, I kneel down and touch it. I call out "the end! I'm done!" really loud. A millisecond after those words come out of my mouth, the boy I passed does the same, crouching at the finish line and yelling the same words. Only a fraction of a second after that, I hear the same cries from over on the other side of the track (where others started the race), where a couple boys just finished. But it's still clear that I won the race. Bow and everyone turn to look at me, and he congratulates me. I have severe self-doubts and can't believe I won. I feel guilty because I realize I must have miscounted the number of laps I did (22? 24?) or something. How could I have won? I tell Bow that I took some of the first laps pretty slow, stopping between some of them since I wasn't taking the race seriously -- thus maybe I didn't really win the race. Bow says that it's okay, I'm not the only one, and I still won. I try to explain my other excuses for why I think it could be a miscalculation and I didn't really win or run the full race, but Bow insists I did. I'm surprised. Now, I'm driving a car with some others. I'm thinking about the race, looking at the winding road in front of us. It looks like we're in the mountains, and there are tall green trees lining both sides of the road. I'm thinking about the race I just ran. I wonder to myself if a race would be easier to run on a road like this rather than a track. It seems like it would be more interesting on the road, instead of running so many monotonous laps on the same little track. But then I realize that the track is flat, while this road goes up and down, which could be harder. Then we drive by a big cream-colored building on the left, back from the road a ways. There's a driveway leading to the building, and I see Thomas Milsom and a group of other guys on the porch/driveway area. I wonder what the building is. At first when I look, it appears run-down and decrepit. But as we pass, from another angle it looks like a fancy marble mansion. A section of the front wall sticks out a bit, a rectangular, marble awning or something. On this section I see 3-D marble lettering (not painted) that says "PLAYBOY". The lettering is almost subliminal, carved outward in the marble, catching light only for a second as we pass by in our car. I tell the rest of the people in the car that Thomas and the gang are at "Playboy". I wonder if it's a club, or Hugh Hefner's palace, or some other place. Maria (from Swat) is sitting in front, in the passenger's seat. We all start talking about Thomas. Maria says something about him, how he can be "rough". At first I think she probably only knows him as a friend. Then she says they used to be together. This is surprising, for I can't quite picture Maria and Thomas together as a couple. The car finally reaches our destination. We pull into the driveway of a big home and stop. We all get out of the car, and I go inside the house. I need to change my clothes, so I dig through a pile of my clothes on the floor. I put on sweatpants and a swimsuit. I pull on a tight white T-shirt over it, but as I look in a mirror I see that it doesn't look good on me. Plus, I remember how hot it is outside and want to wear as little clothing as possible.
NEXT, I'm sitting in Mark & Ginger's yard in a chair. I'm on a tile patio in front of their bedroom door, which is now a kitchen. I sit in the chair and concentrate on something on my lap; I'm reading or writing or doing some art project. My chair is only feet from the door, facing the house. Mark comes out and begins talking to me. I'm half-listening, but mainly just focusing on my project. He ducks back into the house and then comes out with something in his hand. He gives it to me to smell. It's a deep-dark green leaf that's dry and crinkly and crunchy between my fingers. It has a rich sharp fragrance. At first I think it's some herb that he's using to spice up a meal he's cooking. Sage? Oregano? Then I take another deep breath. Its smell fills my nostrils and starts to change a little. It is still sharp, rich and distinct, but now more familiar. I keep smelling it, and I realize it's marijuana, although the leaf doesn't look like it.
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