I finally took the shrooms right.
After a few small doses and a last-minute full 3.5 grams after a day of drinking, I set myself up right. I didn't drink the night before, only ate a few pieces of fruit and made double-steeped tea.
The effects came on within ten minutes. I was playing Rummy 500 with my girlfriend and listening to the grateful dead when I noticed the marble on the coffee table was drifting. Soon only she and the cards were stationary while every thing else kept shifting. I turned off the music while coming up quickly, and getting a little worried that this may be too much.
But it wasn't, and soon I got it into my head that this would be a nice "enjoy the summertime" trip. That's how it started out, at least, and I was pleasantly surprised where it went from there.
It was a little tricky b/c I wasn't planning to be around my girl, who'd never done any psychedelics (not that I'm an expert). My plan was to catch a cab home when I started to feel it, because it's a 15-minute ride but I'm usually really okay for up to an hour. This hit too fast, so had to explain to her that I was fine, but I would act weird and like "the stoner guy in the movies." It took her a minute, but she was ok with it. She actually made a great sitter.
Her place was great: a third-floor apartment in a small building in the suburbs. The windows were open and the fans made a nice vibrating noise. I moved around a lot from watching the Olympics and laying on the bed.
Then I started peaking. It seemed like things were loud and just a little tumultuous, but in reality they weren't. The mono-colored, two-dimensional shapes on the white walls and ceiling grew into a billowing three-dimensional chamber, they gained a warm, light pink color. I felt as if I was being admitted into a special place; an inner sanctum, the heart of existence.
Sadly, the sanctum began to vanish. I realized that maintaining was like searching a radio dial for frequencies; listening for signs of life in the static. I would move to different places in the apartment, drink some water or orange juice, and tune into some stations, but none were as strong. I'd explore little nooks and crannies, with no concept of time.
Some time later I stripped down and sat cross-legged on the floor. The wooden panels began to move left-to-right, and dissolved into wind. I sat looking down upon the torrential vortex, watching as my arms took on monkey characteristics. I peered down into the funnel cloud like a gargoyle peering out from the hundredth floor.
I understood: everything, everyone, we're all just points, antennae, trying to find the frequencies. That's who and what we become attracted to: the largest antennae, the strongest frequencies. Be they religions, businesses , ideas, or just people with strong internal forces. We crowd to them, gather, build mountains; try to create peaks.
But as big as we think even our biggest peaks are, they're really just tiny anthills in the face of all existence. And as smart as we are, we're really still just monkeys. Just yelling to be the loudest, hanging from our peaks like King Kong on the Empire State Building.
I asked my girl to drive me home. It was just time to be there, plus I lived near a park so I wanted to go walk there rather than risk wandering near her home. She -- really, a great sitter -- decided to come with me the whole time.
In the car she asked how I was doing. I told her I was having a great time (I had told her that a few times, just to check in with her) and asked her, %u201CCan I talk a little?%u201D She indulged.
I launched. What I had been thinking about most was this feeling of trying to dial in frequencies, which made me think of some of my favorite music from the seventies and late 60s - particularly, Frank Zappa and Jethro Tull. What's interesting, I tried to explain, was that Zappa and Anderson (Tull's songwriter) very famously did not take drugs, but they made music that made SO MUCH SENSE tripping. Particularly the albums We're Only In It for the Money and A Passion Play, respectively.
Both had these feelings of overtures that were often tumultuous at first, then settled into their music. And, they (sometimes literally) had that feeling of dialing into frequencies. Songs would dissolve, sound jumbled and either re-emerge or morph into the next track. These people were searchers! They were already achieving what many people needed drugs for, but really the shrooms were like meditation or anything else, just ways of moving beyond our limited perceptions and start fiddling with the antenna and searching the dial for something more. After all, isn't that really what art is?
I called in Kubrick and the meaningless of time, how 2001: A Space Odyssey is a move that takes place over millennia, and involves these ideas of beings tuning into higher states of consciousness.
The seventies! So much brilliant art! People turned to rock stars like prophets -- of course they did! Their frequencies were so strong in tumultuous times, and they tapping into -- nay, beating, fighting! for -- new ideas, higher states of consciousness. People tuned into them, drugs or not. (Mostly drugs. It was the seventies).
For the record, I'm 34 but have always listened to classic rock mostly.
Isn't it amazing that everyone just pushed so hard then? Riots throughout America, God-knows-what across the world. Lovecraft alluded to this sort of thing in Call of the Cthulhu: A seismic, world-changing event -- the return of the Old Ones -- was imminent. And, the first signs were all the poets and artists, all those sensitive souls, feeling the vibes and tremors and going mad.
That's what was happening, had probably happened in so many other times in history. We get so close, build those towers, those points. But we're only monkeys. We can't build the infrastructure right, and they tumble. The Tower of Babel had nothing to do with language, everything to do with consciousness.
It's why the 80s, and maybe the 50s, after WWII, were so conservative. We came so close, pushed so far past our comfort zones, that when we lost our nerve or began to stumble or look down and realize how high (ahem) we had climbed, we got scared and retreated. It was just too much.
Finally we got to my place and I had to go to the woods. It was time. I knew this would all wear off if I didn't get into nature right away. We left the groceries I had brought with me (mostly the fruit I'd bought earlier that morning) in the car, and I silently marched us out of my neighborhood in the city -- about a half-mile of rectangular blocks -- then out of civilization and into the woods.
I stopped to pee and smoked a little weed, my first all day, to maintain the trip before I came down any more. There was no more static though, no tumultuousness. I was just tuned right in. I was silent, determined. I walked with purpose, my mind not racing per se, but efficiently and methodically working through so much. I would sometimes break stride, slow for a moment to dwell on a thought.
Rubato, like the romantic era. Conductors would slow the tempo of the orchestra to dwell on a certain note, harmony, passage. Of course.
The wooded area wasn't that large, and eventually we came out on a busy street, near some prisons, and that led through a crappy few blocks before getting to my slightly-less-crappy neighborhood. I didn't mind. I wasn't scared, concerned, anything. Of course this is where I would be. Out of the woods, reaching back into civilization, into the heart of everything, little by little: first past the incarcerated, then the impoverished. I'm not all that much further from that, but the progression was so obvious.
I wish so much I could remember, or put into words, what I thought and felt at this time. It felt like all that turbulence was a journey that led into the woods, into isolation. Then, I was coming back to people with happiness and tools for leading a happy, productive life. I don't remember what they were but even now, a week and a half later, I feel as if they are still with me.
Is this what Jesus would do? Was he, and the other prophets, trippers? Or were they just naturally able to get tuned in like that, that's what made them special? Didn't they all leave the city, go to the desert or somewhere for a while, and come back with truths? I'm not saying I'm the son of God. I'm just saying maybe the son of God was just a really smart, meditative human. Not much more than ape, just like me. It's cool, man.
I wondered also about the other people in the woods that day, or any day, and the men I'd see walking around my neighborhood maybe a little messed up. Is that what we all do? Do all the lunatics, or all the artists, or sensitive people or whatever, at some point, just go a little nuts, or get a little high, and march into the woods to recenter ourselves or learn something, guided by escorts? Perhaps that was a little much, or perhaps I'm not remembering it correctly, but there was something about that idea that stuck.
We got back to my house and I lay on the couch staring at the strong 2-d visuals on my white ceiling. Listening to Elvis Costello and the Roots, a great chill-out CD. So wise --- WISE UP GHOST is the name -- people who've been there, been through it, trying to tell people about it. Unity -- who would have guessed? Some nerdy guy playing new wave in the late seventies with some of the coolest hip hop art artists.
Wise up, ghost they were saying: we're all the same, all in this together. Don't listen to those who try to divide, try to say things can't go together, people can't join forces. The actual lyrics don't even matter. Just them making this music meant everything.
I hit the empathy point. A blue-green, swelling orb in the pit of my stomach that nearly brought me to tears. I made peace with my ex-girlfriend of two years. We broke up last fall. We both tried to make it work but shouldn't have held on that long, and damn near destroyed each other. Well, mostly me doing the active destroying. She would go silent when she got upset whereas I would explode outwardly, shouting in the moment and over the long haul getting drunk more than I should. She tried to tell me, I couldn't listen. She was still wrong about so many things, but my God I should have left rather than torture her as we tried to hang on.
My ex-wife, the constant fuck-up. The woman who cheated on me serially for a year before emptying our bank accounts and leaving me with the kids and an unpaid mortgage. She'd ended up faking a suicide attempt, even doing a few months on traffic warrants for never paying tickets. She never payed me child support, always picked up and dropped off the kids late, and would return them in crappy, dirty clothes instead of what I sent them in. Sometimes, when she was working as an escort, I found out she'd leave them alone in a hotel room for the night with people checking on her when she went out to work.
But now I saw things differently. I was focused on all the bad stuff -- and it was pretty bad -- but I always framed it as, eventually no matter what she did, she would just always be bad. Now, I realized the times she would try to do things right, but either fuck it up herself or end up a genuine victim of circumstance and backslide. How hard it must be to live like that, how debilitating! I won't stick it to her about that anymore. I won't tell her, when she's being obstinate and ruining my day or plans by not keeping her end of the bargain, by reminding her that she left because she thought I was holding her back, but look how wrong she was, and she%u2019d always be a fuckup.
That's probably true, but I won't say it anymore. I don't have to be there for her, but I can silently, tacitly encourage her by not pointing out her failures and giving her more say in what happens with the kids, or at least let it be a conversation, when she%u2019s on the straight and narrow.
The kids were with her this day, of course, which is why I could take all this time. By now it was 5 pm on a Sunday, and they were due home at 8. I had timed it very well so that I'd be back down by the time they got here. My daughter texted me asking what time they needed to be home. Before this, I would have texted her saying 8 as always and her mother shouldn't need to be reminded.
Instead, I honored the work her mom had been doing to try to be better, and the fact that the kids cherished their time with her. I wrote back, "Let me know what you want to do." She asked if 9:30 was ok. I said yes. It was no great Herculean effort, but it was something.
A little before this, my girlfriend took her leave. She had plans that night, and seeing that I was clearly almost done, was ok to go. Totally cool, as I had planned to be alone anyway. After all that, I laid on my bed with my eyes closed and listened to the beginning of that Tull album a Passion Play. The idea of it being a theater production on record made so much more sense. I could see the waves of blue and green, with Anderson as a solo singer/ringmaster.
Almost done, I went back downstairs and watched a movie for a while. By the time the kids came home, the movie was almost done, I was straight and getting sleepy. I cuddled with my son while he watched Dragon Ball Z and we fell asleep on the couch.