Cacti - T. pachanoi & MDMA
Citation: rumhat. "The Long Walk Home: An Experience with Cacti - T. pachanoi & MDMA (exp28651)". Erowid.org. Aug 20, 2004. erowid.org/exp/28651
Author’s Note: What follows is the retrospective of my definitive waking-up experience some time back in my sophomore year of college. While it tends, in hindsight, towards the hopelessly self-indulgent, the borderline megalomaniacal, and certainly the torturously LONG, including a great deal of probably irrelevant details, I think it exemplifies a lot of the life-changing-type insights potentiated by both mescaline and MDMA. This was, in fact, what first got me to start writing. Anyways, as embarrassing as I often find it, it still to a certain extent defines the person I am today, and may therefore prove valuable to others who are in the same place I was. Or not. Whichever.
At sunset K. and I took mescaline, drank the bitter green slime of the San Pedro cactus. We walked until the sun rose.
We took the ecstasy at 8.30 and decided we would head west. (“Walk west out past west campus further west than you’ve ever been.”) We crossed the river and the thing began to take hold of me. We walked on the frozen ground of a barren field and then wandered into the high grass. We sat, lay there in the grass on the frozen ground, and I drank in every moment of being. I began to think about myself and my relationships. We talked and I recognized the truth in every word that I said, knew it all to be true the moment I thought it, then spoke the words and brought them into the world, made them real, gave them life. I brought them into the world so that I could not pretend I never had them, so I could not deny them or hide them from myself. I realized that I am afraid that I am my father. I am afraid because I feel that he has failed in his life, that he has let the bad of this world seep into him and kill him.
My father is an artist. He makes a living by his art. He sells the products of his creative mind, and this is beautiful. But he is estranged from his art, from his artist nature that he hides with his cynicism and dislike, with his wide-ranging and indiscriminate criticality. He practices his art no longer as an expression of his soul (however much he should hate to admit this – I have seen his personal photographs, and they are great and beautiful) but as a way of making money alone. Corporate work, senior pictures… I sense that these have worn him down, made him forget the way he loved his craft. I see him, Steve, Dad, my father, at my age, in college, the world pregnant with possibility; and I see him now, believing that the way things are is the way things must always be, (and even worse) have always been.
We stood up and walked and sat on the smooth grey concrete, bathed thru the immaculately clean window in the glow of man-made fluorescence.
Something new may be created in every moment! I sat with K. and saw that we could do nothing, can do nothing, but create; and saw that nothing so nourishes the soul as creating. And in this moment, I affirmed myself. I said it, I brought the words into the world: I have the soul of a poet. I have believed this for a long time. I am a poet and I will not doubt this. I am genius. I said it and I knew it. Not all of me is genius, but there is genius in me. I am capable of creating perfection. I am great. A stone lifted off my chest – I will no longer deny my genius to myself as I have for so long. I see my greatness and will not hide it, and I see too the ways in which I am not great, and I shall not hide that either, neither from myself nor from others. And I recognized the genius is others, knowing that there is genius in everyone. We considered the genius we knew in others and made a list, wrote down the important geniuses that we know. I considered the strange way in which genius touches and inspires genius, and was amazed. Genius was in may ways the recurrent topic returned to thruout the night.
So in bits and pieces we worked into it, built it up and led into it: Sonia. We talked of sex. Sex, the most beautiful and powerful expression in the world. Sonia had showed me that sex could be beautiful, that in acts of love we find truth that words cannot ever express. I knew and said that Sonia. was the first one I had loved deeply and immediately, without question in my mind of “is this love or not?” She was the first; I knew love in her being, never before so instant or connected. [There follows much rationalization of being spurned by her, how she denied her love of me to herself, etc., etc., general bitterness and rumination on being dumped and still loving her.]
We crossed the barbed wire fence, and then a walk, and then onto the golf course, where misfortune struck us. K. Tried to walk on water and fell hip-deep into a stream. Disaster! Below freezing and soaking wet, we both considered giving up and walking the relatively few miles back to campus, to dryness and assurance of comfort and everything we had left behind. Shoes and trousers removed, we wrang out the socks and the pants, but it was still too cold. There were lights in a structure a bit up the fairway – we figured shelter from the wind and time to figure how to dry things out.
The ground frozen and he barefoot and in long johns, I told him to get on my back and I carried him, so much smaller than I, on my back: up the hill, discovering the bunker, bouncing and laughing and feeling the perfection of the moment. Never again will anything look or feel as this did. We were children in that moment, singular and irreplaceable.
And so in this way we came upon the structure, and happily it was not a complete structure. It was the new clubhouse that was being constructed. With uncomprehending gratitude I ducked and slipped inside, moving aside the grimy hanging sheet of thick industrial plastic. And then I was greeted by the noise – two industrial heaters running in the empty structure. The universe provides! There are times when everything fits together too perfectly, and I doubt the cold randomness of things. We had given ourselves to the universe in our journey, and the universe had given back to us.
The pants we draped on a garbage can in front of the blasting vent of the larger heater, and the shoes we placed in front of the torpedo heater, the flames orange and blue and hot within the concealing cylinder. We sat and warmed ourselves, waited for the drying to be done, but without urgency or expectation. I spoke of my depression, and the way Sonia had brought me out of the darkness. I read some of my writing to K. and he listened, received the black words I had written in my times of absolute lowness (seeming so long ago but all so recent). I read the poem I had written to Sonia, realized and said how she made me recognize the artist in me that I repress, that I hide and deny. I realized that she forced me to feel. She opened me up to myself, and when I look inside myself and let go and open a vein onto the page it feels just as it did with her that first time we had talked so early in the morning, removing the weight of things left unsaid.
We talked and shared an orange and some water and I thought again of genius. I think: I see the work of Whitman, of Delillo, the beauty and unquestionable genius of their creations and ideas, and I think: I am not them, therefore I am not genius, I am not great. But I understood that genius is not some finite quantity that has been already used up, that ‘there has never been any more perfection than there is now, nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.’ Genius is creating these moments of perfection, and that these men of genius were not genius in all that they did, but only in certain parts of themselves, and that not all they created was genius, but only certain parts. And this is all that you can ask of perfection – a moment, isolated. It is a foolish man who thinks that everything there is to think has already been thought, and that all there is to say has already been said. I have something to say. It is within me and I create it, weave it in every word that I write. So I do not see the names of these great men and think that I am below or separate from them.
No, I am among them, M.E.C., genius
And I smile. The mind is infinite. Before I had always been afraid to try for fear that I would fail, and I would remove all doubt that I am a failure, not good enough, not smart enough. I was afraid that in trying I might not live up to the expectations (my parents, my friends, myself) have of me, that they will see me for the fake I really am. But I am not a fake! I am genuine; I am real. I am alive in every breath I take, vibrant and shining in every moment of being. I love myself and am glad that I am who I am, my failings and shortcomings no more unwelcome to me than my strengths, because they are a part of me. The mind is infinite and only in thinking that I cannot be great do I make this so. There is nothing to lose in life by trying and everything to gain. Walk where you want and say what you want and do what you want – you are free. Exercise your freedom of being.
And soon time was done and the wetness that had seemed disaster was gone. I pinpoint this moment in my mind as the time when we were furthest from everything – stepping over the threshold into that empty, dusty structure and feeling the heat on my face; separation from the mundane, from the sphere of the ever and numbingly real.
So we left the empty warm hull of the clubhouse and walked. Walked across the immaculate greens, patterning and geometrical like expensive carpet, and off the course entirely. Walked into the gated communities that ringed that and every golf course, feeling ourselves intruders in a world not our own. Walked amongst the houses and out onto the road and back past the strip mall, gleaming and clean, commercialization stretching for two miles in either direction, we walked, walked past the sterile brightness and class of upscale store windows, and I saw two common people, low men on society’s totem pole thru no doing of their own. I wondered at their lives, the texture and silent rhythm of their existence that I would never know except in that one instant.
We turned and walked away from the plastic world of things and storefronts and the pretty lie of shopping. We found ourselves at a bend in the road that we could not see beyond, stretching off in a direction where we did not know where it led. We deliberated and chose the unknown path, walking in the road, moving for the occasional car that happened by. We tired after some miles on this road and stopped in the large, primarily empty parking lot of some state-owned maintenance facility and sat, sipped water and talked. K. told me about his first great love, Tara K., and I mostly just listened, amazed at how little I knew of the large and complex story between them. I spoke again about S., little, but importantly. The thing of greatest importance that she gave me I came to realize in that moment – she gave me freedom. Now after meeting her, after the things she had forced me to see, I feel free, truly free for the first time in my life. Unspeakable gratitude washed over me. I lost myself in it. And in a moment I had found myself again – myself; free.
At length we rose and walked on down the six lanes of empty black top, strolling freely, shifting to the grass for the occasional car bound in our direction, then back again into the road, into the right-hand lane intended for slow-moving traffic like ourselves. We passed the Orleans Bar and Grill, a tiny one-story structure with a small semi-festive sign. We noticed it and shook our heads in that tiny way that people do when disappointed, reflecting on the falseness of it, the splendor of New Orleans, the big easy, the unmistakable Cajun flair of the Mississippi delta – right there on a deserted stretch of freezing highway in Columbus, OH, flanked by a print shop and a dirty tan building housing an auto rustproofing establishment. The images they try to sell us! The images we let ourselves be sold! How small and plastic the place seemed – a complete charade, peddling false feelings to people trained to believe that they are the real thing.
And then we were past it. But the cold had crept in again, numbing and dulling us. To the left we saw an apartment building, three floors framed in glass, inviting and warm. We gripped the handle (not I but K… we were by now a single entity in our desire to escape the cold and wind) and the door swung open. Unlocked. The universe provides! We entered and mounted the stairs to the second floor landing, sat tired and grateful on the carpet, leaned against the walls, enjoyed the stillness and the quiet of this temporary oasis.
And again we talked, unobserved, our presence unknown by the sleepers behind the identical beige doors in the identical orange hallways. I talked about my mother as I had earlier on the road. I talked about my love for things, the way I love deep and simple and childlike, like my mother’s love, the full and uncomplicated way that both of us feel about those closest to us. I had earlier said that I felt I could never connect with my mother, because she was not genius, because she appreciates uncritically and so could never see as I saw, could never connect with me. But I saw then that this was untrue – my mother’s genius is in her love, pure and giving and unfathomable in its depth. She gave this to me, surrounded me with this great love that leeched into my soul and gave me always the profound and wide-eyed appreciation of a child; not of all things, but of the things most important: other human beings. Existence embracing existence.
In time we were warmed again and began our walk down the deserted street, thru the deserted world. Shortly we came to an exit, placed to the right of us, stretching around some great body of water – no pond or stream, but a legitimate lake. An abandoned or disused section of freeway met us, winding left into beyond our vision. We considered and struck out down it, its length neither realized nor truly cared about. We walked briskly, speaking to forget the cold, telling stories to loosen the grasp of our minds from the bitter chill, ambling down the center of this broad path constructed and intended for cars but now conveying us towards that place far off in the darkness where the road converged into a single point.
We saw the lights of the city and considered ourselves to be moving in the right direction, though there was much discussion of ‘we do not know where we are and what do you think that is in the distance?’ These things were okay. These things were good. We did not want to know where we were. We wanted to lose ourselves, to be nowhere.
And the roadway ran along the water and we saw the lights of the buildings across it, liquid and vibrant reflections of the real world, inverted in the surface of the lake. One building, bright and glass and isolated, stood on a point projecting out into the water, looking like bright blocks of colored plastic, floating on the water with no perceived division between the real and the shimmering copy that seemingly supported it. As we walked our angle to it changed; it varied and shifted in aspect and in my mind I saw it from all these perspectives at once, apprehending it in three-hundred-and-sixty degrees of structure and color.
But this thing, like all things, was ephemeral, and soon it was gone behind us, the cracked and empty freeway converging with some other, used and traveled by isolated bits of traffic which we now saw ahead of us, and in a moment we were at the convergence. We hopped the concrete barrier and walked in between it and another down the highway, in the no-man’s land, over large and small stones, over gravel and broken glass. We saw the exit to the freeway and decided to get off there, having traveled far enough on this path. I reflected on the routes we had taken in the course of the journey. Some paths we had made ourselves, and some existed that we chose to follow; and there were some that we had to follow, the places where there was no other option, no other route, it seemed to me oddly like life, the amalgam of the new and the existing and the required.
We jumped up on the grey stone divider and waited for a semi to enter the freeway, curling around the onramp then straightening and settling into the task of slow acceleration. We stood obvious in the light, elevated and looking straight at him, but the trucker never saw us. People don’t see what they don’t expect to see.
We left and mounted the incline to the road, walking down it to some intersection with a BP, and for the first time digging my watch out of my bag to check it. 4 a.m. exactly.
Deciding the night must end with breakfast and terminate completely with the first rays of the sun, we glanced down the road with the city rising behind it and walked in the direction of the giant towers pocked with their tiny squares of light. Then the grinding shriek of metal on metal, piercing and tortured. Someone was having car trouble in the shadowy expanse of the asphalt parking lot of a diner across the way from us. How much better were our lives at that moment than the lives of the person with the uncompliant automobile, stalled and dying in the darkness of 4 a.m.? I could not conceive. A separate being, a separate existence. We walked on.
On over deteriorated pavement and dead brown grass, ice crystals glittering like misplaced diamonds amongst the spots worn to mud by pedestrian traffic. We came upon a stairway sunk into the ground like the entrance to a subway or fallout shelter, very much out of place. We were coming down off the ecstasy. It looked strange and singular; we approached it and looked in, to a chainlink barrier with a chainlink door and a sign: No Admittance, in faded black and red. “Like something out of James Bond,” K. said.
We sat on the rails, sat at the top of the steps that did not belong, opposite each other, shared water and again came the topic – genius.
K. all the way down the road had been talking about his friend Mike. Michael G. “The greatest genius among us,” he said. He spoke of how they had met and what Mike, who I had spoken to only once, was like, how he wrote, who he was, is. He said again that he saw me as above himself, more genius than himself. I shrugged inwardly and said nothing, shrugged inwardly and said nothing as I had every previous time he had said it, however good it made me feel to hear myself praised. What am I to say? What am I to think? Genius, I suppose, cannot recognize itself except in rare and fleeting moments, can only recognize other genius. Like you cannot fully recognize yourself, only the selves of others. I thought for a moment of my friend Aaron M., far smarter than I and not realizing it; myself recognizing that greater than myself. I shrugged in my mind again; I do not understand this; I shelve it deep within me.
And then walking again, ever movement, ever forward. The geography of the place we came upon forced decision from us. Three roads, diverging, each in a different direction. The television station was to our left, its employees moving past in vans, gawking at us as some kind of existential oddity, we took our bearings and saw that we must take the elevated path, the high road.
We turned right, backtracking slightly then climbing the cyclone fence that followed the general leftward curve of the access road that we were now departing. We surmounted the hill beyond it, climbing the steep angle to the flatness of another level, this halfway to the height of our intended interchange. Then another hill, steeper than the last, murderously sloping, its growth of long grass slippery with ice. “Surmounting obstacles,” I said. “All night we have surmounted obstacles.” I glowed in a small moment of pride, my chest heaving as we crested the top of the rise and stepped onto the roadway. Huge barriers, five feet tall and coated in glossy white paint, separated the ingoing from the outgoing, divided the nonexistent automotive flux. I hopped up on these and walked, balancing precariously, the surface narrow and slick and kilted to the left.
After my third near-loss of equilibrium, I abandoned them and was once again solidly and reassuringly pavement-bound, K. now talking about setting himself up for rejection in high school, always wanting the unattainable girl.
“I always wanted Molly,” he said.
“So did I.”
“And that was the best thing about her.”
I told the story about the afternoon one Saturday at her house when everyone else had left. Just the two of us, first working on the homecoming float, then simply inside talking. How I felt the electricity, saw in her words and manner that she was willing, saw what would have happened had not the moment been interrupted by a phonecall, calling me away and forever shattering the possibility. And most important, how never again did she seem so desirable, so great, after that time when I saw that she was not unattainable. Setting ourselves up for rejection by Molly, both of us, and neither knew it. We laughed and smiled, and then the roadway came to an abrupt end.
In one moment we were walking over an elevated roadway, over cement and expansion joints and still more cement, and then we were walking on dirt, hard and uneven. We looked back. The road just ended, came to a halt. “That’s strange.” ahead of us, down the muddy slope, there was a train, moving slowly along its track, winding and jointed and clattering, towards the city.
We stood beside the tracks, considering and strategizing, occasionally grabbing in a half-hearted way the hold of some passing car as if to get a feel of the action we must perform. We stood inches from it as it slid past, I sure, K. not. How to work the thing? In a small set of moments we saw the end of the train, the last car moving toward us like uncertain destiny, we still deliberating. “Will we take this opportunity that has been provided to us?” Two cars remaining. “Will we do this?” One. Then running, the pack bouncing wildly on my back, my hands struggling for purchase on the cold iron rungs of the ladder. Grasping, pulling, my feet leaving the ground, hanging and seeing the earth rushing past below my feet, speed condensing the objects beneath us into fluid motion. My hand on a higher rung, feet kicking, searching, finding a foothold; pulling myself up, K. doing the same; time resuming its everyday pace.
We sat on the metal platform, lounging, breathing, watching the world pull away from us or we pull away form the world. Everything just slid by; we watched things pass; trees, buildings, the rails paying out behind us like rust-colored bands of silk. We rode for a while, drinking in the experience, feeling life in our blood, in our pores, in our marrow, simply being.
And then we were at the outskirts of downtown, along the dirty industrial fringes of the city, the feeling of the soot of the 19th century, the stockyards, coal, 14-hour workdays. But it was just warehouses, small factories. We saw Nationwide Arena and decided this was our stop, travel further south not an item on the day’s agenda. We jumped and landed not unsoftly in the gravel of the railway bed, the train having slowed, and this too perhaps having prompted our departure. Who knows the true motivations of the mind?
Away from the tracks and down towards the warehouses we ambled, sad, I think, at leaving the train, but glad to be once again in active control of our journey. “Into downtown and then up High street,” we had decided hours before, and as we found the street and walked up into the city we were fulfilling it in every step that we took. Ahead K. recognized the monolithic wedge of the Hyatt, light on its surface like oil, the color of blacker-than-black. We walked past some business of indeterminate purpose and nature, a small building with a glass front and a sign that said something like SONISURE. We wondered at what it was that SONISURE did or made or provided, wondered at the lives of the people who worked there, made their living there, on a minor street in the minor city of Columbus, Ohio… at the variance of existence… what things may fill a life.
We came then upon High St. The final leg. Walking north now, feeling the fatigue. We talked of blisters and minor pains; I again handed K. the pack. We walked and I tried to meet the eyes of the occasional stranger we passed, none returning my glance, none even looking up save for the single schizophrenic man, face gaunt with skin brown and stretched and leathery, his eyes registering us not as people but as things, contraptions in a world of imaginary horrors, to him all real. Wide-eyed and crazy, and we not really existing... what things may fill a life.
The world was coming to life now. Trucks and cars now zooming past from time to time. An ambulance went screaming by, then the faroff sound of firetrucks, drawing closer then turning off at angles to us – the real world seeping back in. Past stores and restaurants and boutiques and pharmacies, drawing back into the real. Sooner than I could have imagined we had come upon the Kroger. Almost home. The trip had taken only minutes it seemed, only minutes to cover the miles between campus and the city. We ducked into an alleyway, exhausted, and sat on the rough pebbly concrete of someone’s back steps. I packed our last small bit of marijuana into a bowl and we shared it there on the steps, feeling spent and sore, happily knowing the deep feeling of our own biology, loving our aches because they made us know that we were animals, know we were alive, made us aware of our pure physical being. We rose and began the now torturous trek to Steak ’n’ Shake, every ache and pain and bodily misery settled in an magnified by our brief rest.
We walked in and sat, feeling dead, limp, torpid, the high the only thing sustaining me. We ordered and ate, the most delicious and satisfying meal of my life, though I remember not a bite of it. Our waiter was strange and quirky and I was unable to converse with him as a normal human being, mostly just giving mono- and duo-syllabic requests for things like wheat toast and more water. K. was even worse; in speaking to this strange kid it was obvious even to me that he was saying exactly his stream of consciousness, just speaking his thoughtstream like a drunkard, getting the point across but not without sounding like a meth junkie at the end of a four day binge.
We talked some over the meal. I mostly just listened, disconnected, the world too glossy and plastic for interaction. We settled the bill and walked out into the pale yellow light that had begun to fill the world, the pale yellow of the 15 minutes before the glowing orange ball of the sun breaks over the horizon. We said our parting words, embracing briefly to confirm and celebrate our shared experience. Then off in our opposite directions, he north and I south.
I crossed High over to the Wexner center, jumped up on and walked the length of the raised concrete spine, then down the curved, arcing steps cut deep along College Rd. I walked up thru the Oval and remembered the piece of chalk given to me by Joey so long ago at the start of our trek, The light was becoming orange. I bent and wrote in huge letters: THERE IS GENIUS IN EVERYONE, using the entire piece of chalk, in the center of the main Oval walkway. I looked toward the library and my heart sang at what I saw. I turned and looked east, into the rays of the sun, blinding and brilliant, and again my heart sang. I walked home, grateful in every aching step that I am able to experience the beauty of the world, that I am allowed to be, even for a moment.
I feel the warmth of the sun on my pale skin
And feel such love that I fear my heart will collapse
Under the weight of it all.
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