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shrooms at ol' bonnaroo
Dosage: Roughly 2.5-3.0 grams
Body Weight: 175 lbs
Hey y’all, thought I’d draw up a quick recounting of a mushroom trip I had at Bonnaroo ’14…
“Well buddy, lookit. This here’s my last bag, so why doncha just go’n ahead and take that powder now too, then?” The grizzly backpack-clad stranger shrugged gesturing eagerly for me to take an extra bit of ground-up mushrooms. We eyeballed the bits of psilocybin-shake a little later on, and estimated that I had gotten about 2.5 or 3 grams of mushrooms for the price of a half-eighth. Deal.
10:30p: My two buddies, their girlfriends, and I all sit on a tablecloth among the heart of the festival, toward the back of the sprawling grass field hugging the main stage. Kanye’s about to come on, but that’s not really important at the time.
We then decided to eat our mushrooms – a low dose was appropriated for most of the group – my two buddies each took a half-eighth and their girlfriends a gram each. We were warned of their intense potency, but having gotten so much extra for free, and knowing that I wouldn’t want to leave the festival with any remaining drugs, I decided to go ahead and chomp up the 2.5 or 3 g’s worth of balanced mishmash of hearty stems, wide caps, and that sweet, sweet, fungal powder.
As a point of reference, I’ve had two mushrooms trips before this, both on 1.75 grams, relatively weak trips. This one was much harder-hitting. I happened to be working my way through a warm coffee as well at the time of ingestion (I find it’s a nice addition that serves to offset the pungent taste of the things and ward off some of the lethargy that seems packaged inseparably with the substance, especially in its early stages of effect).
11:50p: I realize I’ve got to make it to a restroom soon, as my bladder’s become a floodgate under pressure. My only concern is…that I won’t be able to find my way back…my small group is nestled on an uncharacteristic tablecloth amidst a sea of literally 85,000 festival-goers. I’m coming up, and coming up fast. My subconscious at the time blared the following message in my head –
“Damn man, you took too much…you’re in it now, Thomas…get ready to blast off…”
I have to piss, and I decide I must try to get one of my buddies to come with me so I can make it back. My headspace is getting increasingly more confusing by the minute. My phone’s dead, nor did I really want to use it at all during this weekend on the farm anyway. My buddies seem a bit too preoccupied consoling their somewhat anxious girlfriends, as it is their first time tripping. I suggested previously to them that, for a first-time tripper, the atmosphere might be a little stressful, but the girls seemed willing and understanding of the situation at hand before dosing, so I just smiled along when they chose to buy mushrooms from the same guy I did…Nonethless, I couldn’t get either of my buddies to come with me to the bathrooms, which felt miles and miles away, through a throng of unwashed youngsters whose statures seemed, in my dazed state, to tower over me like stoic hill giants of Runescape. I finally reeled it in and decidedly told myself,
“Look, I gotta piss and I gotta make it back. I’ll figure it out. I’m not even tripping yet. I’m overthinking it.” I stood up, almost fell back down again, gathered my wits, and staggered in my estimated direction of the port-a-potties, telling my group in the most unconfident of voices that I’d be back momentarily.
12:00a: I get about 20 steps from my group and realize I left my backpack and shoes on the tablecloth with my group, so I turn back, only to realize the incredibly dense crowd has re-organized in my wake.
I have absolutely no idea where I am.
I have absolutely no idea how to get back to my friends, and I’ve barely made it out of earshot.
“Ooooh…yeahh… (The voice of Bill Lumbergh from Office Space comes to mind) This is going to be a long one,” I realize with a sense of resigned, lonely horror. I realize I’m not making it back, and that the next four hours are going to be spent doing some good old-fashioned self-guided soul searching. I can barely see and attempt poorly to walk straight. Looking at faces as I brushed through the crowd to the faux-clearing at the restroom line was taxing…all the festivalgoers seemed to wear this distressed look that said, “Come on man, find another way through the crowd, you’re screwing up my concert experience.” I had to shrug it off as part of my neurotic overthinking and push on as politely as possible to the nirvana that I felt lay just beyond the claustrophobic horde.
I wander exhaustedly toward the green blur of port-a-johns, and arrive stumbling into a muddy, stinking swamp, soggy from the Tennessee rains of the day previous. A bold wooden billboard above the assembly of plastic outhouses boasts “Restrooms,” and then into my hazy vision comes the sight of a queue that appears as if it’ll take 30 minutes to wait through. There’s got to be at least 150 kids lined up, all fucked up on one or a few drugs, some of them vomiting, most of them wearing this methlyone-induced edginess in their pupils and this unfamiliarity with their surroundings that I’m sure I advertised just as ridiculously.
I see a few brave souls – or perhaps, just severely intoxicated souls – stagger toward the back wall of the venue behind the port-a-johns (which is about an eight-foot tall wooden wall surrounding all the stages) and proceed to piss all over it with an air of calm rebellion, in clear sight of everyone in the vicinity.
Fuck it, I gotta go too. I join in. I just drop trou right there and relieve myself. There’s the incessant bumping of body-throbbing bass, and “Fuck you” chants and echoing boos of the angry Kanye crowd behind me, all the more complicated by the attacks he shot back at them. The anxiety of pissing in such an open spot ** and the overwhelmingly negative vibe of Kanye’s set and its reception barraged my delicate mind and started to throw the trip off the tracks. But I held on and tried to re-align that train, resolving that I’d go off and find some other music to watch and enjoy the night. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be seeing my friends again tonight, and I was shirtless, shoeless, and carried nothing but a Bonnraoo schedule in my pocket.
I was tripping far, far harder than I ever had before. And it’d only been an hour and a half.
** (Not to mention the body load and distortion I felt made it very, very hard to determine what flesh was actually my unit and what was my hand, and at the end of the urinary experience I was pretty sure I had “marked my territory” all over my own board shorts)
12:30a: I trudge my way through the Kanye crowd and try to get to the other stages to see some other acts, as the Kanye area is super negative and cramped. The worst downsides of Bonnaroo are the crowd and the nagging commercialization of it all. Too often the 85,000 people make it feel like you’re at an apocalyptic carnival on steroids.
1:10a: I’m tripping really hard now.
No, literally, I’m tripping. Like I am physically tripping over my own feet. I feel as if I’ve only got a couple more steps until I keel over and curl into a ball to unsuccessfully prep for the storm that is a full-blown ego death in the middle of the most sensory-overloaded square mile I’ve ever been in.
Ohh...I’m nervous. As I walk dazedly through the festival grounds, I pass groups of people that in my disfigured auditory hallucinations appear to be prodding me.
“Man, look at Thomas, he’s fucked up…Wow that kid’s tripping so hard, he looks retarded. Wow what a fucking idiot, look at that kid, he can’t even walk..” I struggle to maintain my sanity, and this trip starts to feel a lot less recreational and a lot more like a self-destructive nightmare. I resolve to sit down, but as soon as I do, I over-think my position and think that I’m in a walkway, and hurriedly get back up. Looking back, I must have looked like a squirrel who’d forgot where he’d buried an acorn…repeatedly sitting down and then stumbling around in frenetic circles. There’s a sense of brooding fear building up in me that I won’t be able to make it to a “safe spot” before this inevitable self-dissolution comes raining down on me. I don’t know if I’d ever been this terrified, if somewhat illogically so, than I was at this moment…
And it was right then when a friendly brown-haired guy bumped into me on the path and smiled, stretching his hand out in a measure of goodwill and introducing himself as Dave.
“Hey man, what’s up? I’m Dave. You look lost, man.”
“Haha…yeah. You could say that. I sort of, don’t know where I am. I lost my friends…” I mumbled, caught totally off-guard. I don’t really know if I said this, or if I just spewed some unintelligible discursive bullshit in his direction. Regardless, he seemed to know what I was talking about, even precisely so.
What he said next rung with a purity unparalleled throughout my whole weekend at the festival.
“Haha, don’t even worry about it man, at Bonnaroo, you never lose your friends.” Dave said, beaming with reassurance.
“I, uh..yeah. Yeah, man, yeah! I’m Thomas, great to meet you dude! Thanks so much, man!” I had never had a moment go from hell-impending terror to universal bliss so quickly. I looked into Dave’s eyes and we both seemed to know something about each other, we knew that we were in this together…as festivalgoers, but also as people navigating this organic ball of rubble we call Earth. I thanked him for his kind words and we parted ways when I politely told him that I now knew where I was.
I walked off rejuvenated, and felt as if a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders. The resonance of his statement was mind-blowing. He was right – all this time I had spent fearing and guardedly trying to shut out my surroundings could be cured by looking up, regaining psychological traction by embracing the beauty of the moment…that all these folk had come together to share in the bliss that is music and companionship, and I just needed to relax. I began to successfully regain mental peace.
Ram Dass’s “We’re all just walking each other home” quote comes to mind. I still think of how much Dave helped me in this moment, and he almost seemed like an angel in a way.
2:00a: I make it to the stage where Ice Cube is performing, and find a spot of grass to sit down in, on the outer fringe of the multitudes of people swarming the stage. Ice Cube’s set sounds awesome, so I stand up to get a better look. All I see are wild OEV’s of pyramidal flames (the stage was red) and a huge open-eye visual of Ice Cube’s mug re-created by my subconscious in the stars, about 1,000,000 times life size. It was if my whole visual field was a frame and his smug face was cramped into it with just enough space. I chuckled heartily at the sight, and for the remainder of the trip enjoyed some serious euphoria and blissful awareness of my artistically charged surroundings.
2:30-5:00a: The rest of the trip entailed a slow coast back down to reality, glowing with appreciation and excitement to be where I was. I remember wandering up to stages and watching various artists perform, feeling as if I was a small part of a whole in the crowd, like a singular fish in a school, all moving to the current of the beat.
Chance the Rapper’s set was perhaps my favorite musical performance that I’ve seen to this day. It went on from about 2:30-4:30am, and was the last show of the night. There’s something about the last show of the night at a festival, something desperate and glorious about it. Like everyone’s decided to leave it all out on the court, so to speak – the whole crowd just throws off any remaining chains and surrenders their whole to the music. There’s unrestricted, booming energy in the set. Everyone’s screaming at the top of their already voiceless lungs, smiles wide as can be, the emotion in the air as palpable as the oxygen it circulates. All of the festivalgoers who were lingering at other artists’ closing songs begin to shuffle toward the last still-going performer, and Chance’s audience includes everyone left in the festival center. Everyone’s into it. I’m about 40 rows back from the front, in the belly of the beast. I’ve reached that reflective, ecstatic part of the trip where life seems altogether too perfect, too beautiful to behold. I’m crying with bliss, even before Chance’s heartfelt monologue about how his fans have allowed him to do what he does, which literally lights up my being. It is a feeling vastly understated by mere words on a page.
I wander back to my tent around 5:30am, an appreciative smile glued to my face, one that I get again while writing this. Much love to you all. Thanks for reading, hope it was somewhat entertaining.