Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Windows of the Skull

Part of the reason that LSD is so amazing and rewarding is because it removes the doors of perception and thought so you are better able to explore your piece of the universe in a creative and unorthodox way. This can mean feeling comfortable enough to play with your environment, or create bold new art, or think about God, or even just sit back and watch the movie blossoming around you. All these are great reasons to do acid, but sometimes I am whisked away by my fascination for the molecule itself. We know the basics of how it works-- the molecule, because of its shape, replaces serotonin in your nervous system, and therefore alters your modes of thought. But why does it make the radical changes it does? What about lysergic acid diethylamide turns clouds into fractals? What about it helps you get closer to the spiritual? It baffles me that a molecule exists that is so harmless to the body but so powerful to the mind. This, when it comes down to it, is what fascinates me about acid. It's an important tool both for the individual and for the study of the normally-functioning brain.

Yesterday I had the most intense drug experience of my life. My friend Barrett had his parents' house to himself for a few days, so he invited over me, M, and B to trip. I was really excited because Barrett is my favorite trip partner-- he and I are on the same wavelength in many areas, and we're both very curious and driven to learn about the drugs that we do. M is a chill sort of guy who had done acid once before, but usually preferred Ecstasy, whereas B is a lovely and joyous girl who had never tried anything stronger than pot. They were both acquaintances from high school, but were more friends of Barrett's than of mine. I actually had to be talked into this trip, because of my terrible comedown from the last one, the horrific nightmares I've been having, and because of the depression that has been seeping back into my life. I had spent the night before drowning my problems in tequila (which I've never done before) and contemplating another round of self-mutilation-- Boyfriend is a saint and managed to talk me out of it, but I knew it wasn't the best set to begin a trip with. Barrett promised that he'd keep that in mind and make sure to help me through it if I had any problems, so I reluctantly agreed. I love tripping with Barrett and it happens much to seldom for my liking, so I'm really glad I took the opportunity.

B had heard a rumor that some molecule in mangoes will make a trip stronger, so she brought over a tub of chopped mango in addition to some amazing vegan carrot cake. I was skeptical, after hearing rave reviews about the effects of orange juice and never experiencing anything noticeable, but I love mango and hadn't had time for a good breakfast so I ate quite a bit to avoid being hungry later. We made a meal of it, and then went upstairs to take our doses. Barrett had trouble figuring out where to divide the tabs, because they weren't perforated and only had dots in the center of each tab to judge their boundaries. He did his best, and we all placed the purple paper under our tongues.

Either Barrett can't use scissors, or the mangoes worked wonders. Afterwards, me and Barrett estimated that even though we took about a hit and a half, that the trip had been more in the four-hits realm. I'm so thankful that his house was deserted, because we wouldn't have been able to keep it together around "Outsiders." We agreed that it was the strongest trip that we'd ever want to have, but it was altogether a pleasant and eye-opening experience.

We went for a hike in the woods near Barrett's house. The woods are beautiful and worth the trip, but the quarter mile of busy suburban neighborhood we had to traverse makes me super nervous. They are truly little boxes on the hillside but my uncle's family lives along the way, and I dread getting stopped by one of my cousins while tripping. But the acid hadn't hit us yet, beyond a great body high that was almost immediate, so we made it to the woods without a hitch. The forest there is lovely, because it's so winding & secluded that you forget you're at most forty feet away from a sprawling housing development. Barrett and I agree that the time we tripped and played Bridge to Terabithia in there was a ridiculously great time, so we were excited about showing it to M and B.

The path took us through dense trees and fallen logs and patches of Forget-Me-Nots and cornfields. B had a great time naming all of the flowers, which I appreciated and admired because nature knowledge is something I really don't possess. I told B that she was missing her true calling as a wood nymph. The four of us rested for a while on a footbridge across a bubbling stream. The bridge spanned a little waterfall, and through the clear water you could see a reddish algae coating the worn rock. Some sort of industrial building was only yards away, but people were nowhere to be seen and we felt perfectly comfortable and alone. We ended up traversing back to "Terabithia," which is a clearing near a different part of the stream. Surrounded by a mini-moat is an island with a tree and a tire swing. On the other side is a small flat piece of grass and then a field of various kinds of flowers and grasses. It was a little muddy, but to us it was beautiful. We laid down a blanket and stayed there for our peak.

Visually, it was the most real and "present" trip I've ever had. Often, in lower-dose trips visuals will just be an augmentation to the changes in thinking, but this time the fractals and kaleidoscope patterns formed by the clouds and the leaves totally took over my vision and mindset. Unfortunately, the bugs also multiplied. Laying in the grass, I ended up with a spider on my face, which made me very paranoid and uncomfortable for quite a few minutes afterwards.

The amazing visuals made me and M perfectly content to lay on the blanket in a pile, sometimes in long stretches of silence and sometimes comparing and sharing what we saw. I had a very very strong urge to take off my shirt due to the inescapable heat, but I knew rationally that it wasn't a good idea so I kept my urge in check. B alternated between being even more of a forest sprite than she is in day-to-day life, and being an Alice in Wonderland who was a different size in depending on what she looked at. Barrett jumped over the creek onto the tire-swing island and couldn't find the courage to get back. Barrett is inordinately sensitive to psychedelics, sometimes not returning to normalcy for weeks after a trip, and as I realized he was in a mental space very far away I began to get a little worried. He was talking distantly about how he could see the future, and kept asking bizarre questions in response to our conversation, like, "What does it feel like to be alive? Am I alive? What is a house? Are you the human they call Minna? How does time work?" I was in a conundrum because I wasn't sure whether I should let him explore or try to pull him back. I asked him a few times but he gave noncommittal answers. I decided not to push it for fear of making him or someone else nervous, but it was freaking me out a little. I'd tripped with him before and I knew it wasn't his normal behavior, and as the purveyor of the substance and the location we all looked towards him as a guide. I was next in command, being at least as experienced, but I didn't want to have to handle a crisis. M was calm the whole time and could be counted on to remain so, but I doubt he would have been able to help. In the end, I decided that making a big deal of it would do more harm than good-- Barrett's weird trip was his own to grapple with. Later, the three others agreed that at some point during this period, we shared a consciousness-- I remembered the discussion, but I didn't feel it, which is disappointing.

Around rush hour we got the energy to make our way back to Barrett's house. After emerging somewhat from his weird cocoon, Barrett began to feel like a Messiah guiding us back to the promised land. We chose 5:30 to come back to civilization, not realizing that we would encounter a family admiring a new bicycle, a jogger, some pedestrians, and a few SUV's. A dog very near my uncle's house began barking as we passed, so I hurried us along and made sure to keep my eyes averted from that direction. Honestly, I am better at "keeping my shit" while tripping than while high, but this was way out of my league. I was on the far side of the strongest peak of my life, with three other people in varying states of sanity. B was babbling excitedly like a child, and Barrett kept making sketchy-looking glances back at the rest of us who were following him in a very awkward line. M and I were making pretty normal conversation, but I was always very aware of how odd the four of us must look, as mismatched and muddy and quiet as we were.

The air-conditioning in Barrett's house felt so soothing and refreshing to me that the super-awkward journey had been worth it. We situated ourselves back in Barrett's upstairs bedroom, but not before B ran around downstairs 100% convinced that she was a sprite. Barrett was still not even close to reality, so my indecision about trying to pull him back resurfaced. I offered him a place in our puppy pile, which he seemed to react warmly to, but B got distracted with the myriad weird objects in his room and therefore my plan fell through. I started thinking of new things to suggest, but when I brought up glow sticks he began muttering about how he needed a sink to extract the fluid, so I stopped that train of thought in its tracks. I don't think that he realized that he was talking out loud, because he looked really confused like I read his mind. I decided we were going to put on an episode of Adventure Time. It was sketchy for a few minutes because of the dark plotline (B stopped being sprightly and became really engrossed), but it resolved well and put everyone in a better mood. Barrett came back from the future for the most part, so I considered it a success.

We went downstairs and had a few hours of play time. We experimented with furniture, and with music, and with food. B loved the feeling of the carrot cake and the frosted flakes in her mouth (even though it made her afraid her teeth were falling out) so I challenged them to find me a food that I'd like while tripping-- it didn't last long because we got distracted enumerating the different kinds of smooth. I became very frustrated that orgasms could only result from genital stimulation-- I wanted to cum from my wonderment at all the sights I was seeing, and I almost did. We invented a unit to measure fun. I dubbed B the Cosmic Housekeeper after she straightened the entire house and told M to quit moving what she had straightened. We were deities who created an ocean out of a blue handkerchief and a plastic octopus, and then subjected the poor creature to horrible storms. Barrett blasted his favorite Icelandic music. We found a very soft stuffed Llama, who we named the Cosmic Llama. I mentioned that I had been miscounting the number of people in our group the entire trip, and that the CL was obviously the unseen fifth member. This was a bad thing to voice, as it freaked out B quite a bit when it seemed to be staring at her. We spent quite a few minutes playing with perspective on the stairs-- Barret and B laid down at the bottom with their feet on the steps, while me and M sat at the top, creating an Escher-like effect that made B feel like she was floating. That was definitely one of the coolest visual & spatial things I've ever experienced.

My cell phone reception was bad in Barrett's house (I took it as an allegory) so I got a bit nervous about making arrangements to be picked up-- I don't drive, and I hadn't made specific plans with my dad in advance. Luckily, B noticed his headlights in the driveway, earlier than I had expected.This was about ten hours after we took our doses, but I was still far from sober, and my dad hates to be kept waiting when he picks me up. I was afraid he'd be angry, but he blamed our cell phones for the lack of communication and was in a good mood, so I listened to his conversation and then retreated straight into my room when we got home. I'm sure he noticed that I was acting strangely; my mother asked me what was wrong and I wasn't sure how to reply. I've been around my parents before while under the influence, but the degree of this trip was so unlike anything else that it was entirely impossible to act normal. My father knows about all the drugs that I do, and doesn't really mind as long as I'm careful-- he's done them too, plus other ones that I'm not interested in. However, I still feel like the boundaries between parent and child require that I hide it enough that he doesn't have to confront it.

The comedown was much better than last time. For one thing, I had had a fun-filled day with some great people, and now I was ready to relax. After cleaning for a bit (ineffectually) I sat down with my thick book filled with the collected poems of Allen Ginsberg. I've decided that this my favorite activity for a comedown-- it's inspiring and productive, but not always easy. He writes a lot about war and insanity and his glaring faults and vulnerabilities, but also about drugs and the beauty of life and the seemingly banal details of his existence. I have not encountered an artist of any kind that I've felt so connected with. One of the biggest obstacles in my comedowns is the persisting thought that I never really do anything with my life, so reading some Ginsberg is the best way to counteract the perception that I'm rotting my time away, and to inspire me to write great poems myself.

I slept relatively well, and food is palatable again-- I think I'm back to normal. I didn't come away with any of the earth-shattering insights I always expect from acid trips, but I had a great time playing like a child and pushing the limits of my perception of reality. I'm glad to have a friend who knows just how to do these things right-- I've never experienced nature or the company of others like I did during that trip. I can't help but fixate on the question of whether the strength of the trip was from a misjudged dosage or from the mangos, but I'm glad to have had the chance to explore new territory and conquer it.

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome read! I love the part where you describe going into the forest. One of my best trips, and one of my best experiences ever, was once when I went down into a ravine completely sheltered by trees with this little tiny stream running through it.

    I couldn't stay long because it was starting to rain but it was an amazing experience!


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