This is a very personal letter expressed in a very public format. At this point, I really don’t feel like I have any other option. To my friend, I pray you read this. For everyone else, I hope my words serve as a warning about the dangers of marijuana and the responsibilities of adulthood. If there are others out there in Amanda’s situation, I also pray that you read this and hear the call. The people who love you will do whatever it takes to rescue you from the cult known as The Phish.
Amanda, you’re a beautiful person with an incredible heart. You are intelligent and capable and have such a positive future ahead of you. I remember when we roomed together sophomore year in college, we had so much fun! Studying econ late at night, listening to Chris Young, talking about our dreams! You wanted to marry a cowboy and decorate your house all in snakeskin and pink. Ha ha ha, we’d laugh about that! We said we were going to live in Memphis forever and be best friends forever!
Something changed you along the way, Amanda. You started hanging out with a different crowd. People said you smoked weed. You didn’t dress in blouses and capris anymore. It was jeans and angry t-shirts and those ugly sandals. Honestly, you didn’t look that good in those clothes. They made you look homely and sort of over emphasized your hips. You stopped wearing make-up, your jewelry got clunky and weird. I certainly didn’t like the men in your life. They were always right up in my face with their personal business, their political agendas and their sarcasm.
I remember junior year I was on my way to Spring Banquet and I ran into you on Walnut Grove. You were hanging off the shoulder of some long-haired man who had to be five or ten years older. He smelled like the fruity pesticide my Mom uses for mealybugs. I was with Tommy and Big Joe and all the other guys from Alpha Chi. Instead of saying hi to all your old friends, you just rolled your eyes at me and got on the back of that man’s motorcycle. I have never felt so insulted in my entire life.
After that, we lost touch. I really should have made an effort. Maybe you wouldn’t have made so many mistakes in your life if you had a real friend. I followed your Facebook until you abandoned it and created a new account. Yes, I knew about that. It was hurtful, but seeing all those strange photos you posted I understood why. Your life had changed and maybe you were a little bit ashamed. Maybe some part of you still understands that this is all a huge mistake. What really upset me was how much you seemed to “worship” that heavy rock band.
On my Praise & Worship Team, we talk a lot about culture today and the danger of cults. Cults target vulnerable people like yourself. They make you think they have all the answers and that you can’t live without them. I think that’s happening with you and the Phish. From what I’ve heard, you are now driving around the country with different men going to concerts every night. I’m not naive, I know there are huge amounts of hardcore drugs and sex in this scene. I’ve had firsthand experiences with the problems of pot addiction, as you might remember, when my uncle moved to Chicago to become a homosexual. The newspapers stories I’ve seen about the Phish always talk about the marijuana arrests and the violence. I just pray for your safety.
I hope whatever physical encounters you’re having, you’re doing them with protection. The thought of those men with their grubby hands and dreadlocks all over you disgusts me. I imagine they live in those vans and have very dirty lifestyles. It has to be difficult to be surrounded by sex orgies and criminals and drug binges all the time. I wonder how you’re surviving in that world of sin. I just hope that you’re not trading your body for Phish tickets or pot. That would make me incredibly sad.
Let’s face the facts. You really need to think about your long-term goals, Amanda. You can’t live in this loose druggie hitchhiker lifestyle forever. I’ve seen your posts about working in a tree nursery and then as a bartender and suspect it’s just part of the smokescreen you’ve constructed for yourself. I don’t mean to be hurtful, but I have to say this. You’re acting like a spoiled child. Don’t you think it’s about time you grew up? What happens if you wait too long to drop out of this scene? Do you really want to be looking for a husband at 30 or 35? Your body will never look as good as it did in college and honestly, the way you dress now just scares me. It’s like the sales rack at Urban Outfitters vomited on a porn star’s hand-me-downs. I don’t even think you wear a bra anymore.
Whatever you do next in life people will know that you were involved in this whole Phish thing. Could you seriously imagine walking in to service or the country club in those outfits you wear now? I would be sort of embarrassed to be seen on the street with you these days. I’ve always worked very hard to maintain a proper reputation, but it seems like you really don’t care about how other people perceive you. Honestly, what in the world are you thinking? And children? Don’t you have a certain responsibility in that regard, too? It scares me to think of you in dreadlocks and Tevas at forty, pushing a stroller down to the welfare office.
You could always move back to Memphis and maybe live in my garage until you get your life together. Obviously we would have to set limits until I know I can trust you again. I would also need certain commitments about your lifestyle and the marijuana. Of course, no more of that “Phish” ever again. I’d rather not have your strange “friends” hanging around either. It would reflect very poorly on me at an important point in my life. My church has weekly drug rehabilitation meetings that I can sign you up for and maybe we could even get you a job doing janitorial work there. I could talk to my Pastor about it beforehand if you’d just let me know. There really are some positive options for you, Amanda, and I’m truly excited to do this! It could actually be a fun project for me and I know we’d have you happy and normal again in no time!
So here’s the moment of truth. Amanda, I know you can escape the Phish and come back to reality. You can do it if you truly believe in yourself! Your friends will definitely welcome you after you’ve made some progress fixing your life. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about all the mistakes you’ve made. If you are truly ready to walk away from the Phish, I am truly ready to forgive you. You just need to ask!