Citation: B-E-H, inc.. "Searching for Samadhi in West Philadelphia: An Experience with LSD, MDMA (Ecstasy), & Alcohol (exp79281)". Erowid.org. Jan 7, 2012. erowid.org/exp/79281
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND 2009
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
26 y/o male, 5'10', 125 lbs
28 y/o female, 5'5', 130 lbs
26 y/o male, 6'0' 140 lbs
All participants maintain a strict vegan diet and are generally in excellent health. This report is written in three voices with some amount of overlap in events.
Each person is to take 2 hits of LSD followed by 1 pill of MDMA approximately 3.5 hrs thereafter.
SET & SETTING:
I'd been curious about candy flipping for a number of years, but the opportunity to try the mythic combo had always eluded me.
One fine day in May, however, a lovely series of rather serendipitous events afforded me the chance to procure enough LSD and MDMA for myself and two others. I related my find to a couple of wonderful friends who live out of town. They expressed interest in trying the combination, and so that weekend I left Brooklyn for West Philadelphia. I was somewhat aware that this combination may have a propensity for precipitating ++++-type experiences.
It's worth noting that I was involved in a rather traumatic bicycle accident about four weeks prior, which resulted in a broken clavicle and some nasty scarring. I was mostly healed, but my skin was still pink around the wounds, and my shoulder still ached, though lightly. In retrospect, I think that the psychological and physical impact of my accident had some effect on my experience.
I arrived in Philly on Friday evening and met H and E for dinner and a couple glasses of sangria. We fleshed out our plans for the following day and chatted a bit about our expectations. My sleep that night was somewhat restless. We knew we were in for a ride.
The next morning we shared breakfast. I ate lightly.
E's house is situated in West Philadelphia. It is large, clean, and comfortable. We were alone for the duration of the experience, and had collected a few little toys for the impending trip: A tape recorder, guitar, sketchbook, markers, two stereos in separate parts of the house, and a large selection of music.
We each took two hits of LSD at 10:30 AM, about two hours after breakfast.
Within 15-20 minutes I felt the LSD making itself known. My muscles trembled lightly, my breathing became deeper, I felt less talkative and somewhat anxious. I slowly paced around the house, feeling the twinges of energy move through my limbs. I remember chatting a little bit with my companions at this point, but I was more wrapped up in the rather unpleasant effects of the drug. Coming up is always difficult for me.
If, as B suggested at the outset, the LSD would make me anxious, I decided to quell the anxiety with tricks I've used before. I focused on the guitar. It makes time pass more quickly and allows me to forget myself.
Only five, ten minutes in, I felt it. Some quivering in my wrist, and playing guitar (remembering chords and/or changing chord positions) became increasingly difficult as the seconds crawled forward. I mentioned nothing at first to B and E but in my head I said: Damn. This shit works fast!
I am about two or three inches in at this point and looking for non-verbal confirmation from either B or E. [Enter Trope Number One: fear of being alone.]
E is slightly more energetic, and B is quiet. I have no sense that they are feeling what I am. We decide to go to the store to pick up batteries for the tape recorder. Nervous.
I snip a little at E, make fun of a neighbour, and laugh awkwardly at B's jokes. Still nervous. Previous experience with situations involving LSD return briefly and remind me that the beginning of a trip can set the tone for the entire thing. [Enter Trope Number 2: Drug Experience of the Present Through the Lens of the Past.]
I would like to be more calm but the anxiety only feeds off itself. The green of the trees is startling. My stomach is feeling strange.
We walk inside the store. I remember also how much easier it is to 'see' the effects of coming-up indoors (a house, store, wherever) Our footsteps cause a mirror on the wall to shudder slightly. Or does it? The mirror is likely moving only inside my eyes. At the counter I look at B. His pupils are dilated. Is he feeling what I'm feeling? Probably. Yes. Get. Home. Now.
We get home and quickly put the batteries into the recorder 'before it's too late,' and make our first verbal entry on the tape. We are all officially 'feeling it' at this point.
The effects were continuing to build, but I was feeling a bit less anxious. We decided to take a walk to a nearby park. H grabbed a backpack, a couple of bottles of water, and we were out the door. As we turned the corner, I noticed a voice in the back of my head suggesting that perhaps it was in my best interest to turn around, head home, take cover. The park was crowded when we arrived. I felt exposed. I sat in the grass for a few short minutes before deciding to concede to that quiet voice in my head. We walked back, meandering over the cracked sidewalks, broken glass, hastily discarded trash.
B was insistent on bringing bananas. I decided this was either because some chemical in bananas intensified the effects of LSD (and B knew this) or because we were going 'adventuring', no adventure being complete without 'provisions.' Clearly, we weren't going to actually eat the bananas. If my stomach was in knots at this point, so must be B's. [B's Note: It was because we were adventuring!]
On the walk I stumble once, maybe twice. Did anyone notice? I share B's anxiety. We are not drunk, we are on drugs! Everyday people not on drugs are passing us, perhaps wondering why our eyes are so big. E asks to hold my hand. Yes; my anxiety makes me feel especially distant, but then his hand feels very grounding and warm and safe. I feel bad for B, travelling alone up ahead, our fearless, lonesome leader. [Enter H Trope No. 3: Feeling Guilty that B Might Be Experiencing Third Wheel Feelings]
Walking back, the birds sang a chorus with each voice perfectly focused. I wasn't able to concentrate on any particular sound or call, but neither was doing so a necessity -- I was able to evenly divide my attention to each song and process them all in my head simultaneously. A sort of reverse-cocktail-party effect. How novel!
It was nearing 1:00 PM by this point. The effects of the LSD were still escalating, but I felt that the physical effects were smoothing out as my body adjusted my new chemistry. We went to E's bedroom, where H & E sprawled on the bed and I sat on a chair. H picked up the guitar. She played while E & I sang along to a few songs. Singing felt fantastic. I noodled around with the guitar for a while and eyed the six little blue pills that we had planned to take.
H & I commented on how our skin changes whenever we trip. My hands age. They appear veiny, wrinkled, boney, weak, arthritic. I worried about what it will be like to be older, and how I'll manage to come to terms with aging. I feel reasonably clear-headed, but things are visually rather, uh, impressive.
What I saw in E's room: My skin 'aging' in and out, or at least the dark parts of my hand (shadows in the crevices, darker parts of skin) pulsing darker, then lighter. The glow of the painting of the boat, the incredible blue of the sea there. The ship 'coming towards' me, the soft billowing and white light of the curtains, watery music: it fed into the nautical theme I felt on and off all day. The painting of the girl with blue hair on the wall, her hair reaching up and out of her head, then coming back down, some very pleasant Medusa hair. Technicolor patterns on my skin, like moving tattoos or the script of a strange, Arabic-like language. White light changing to a rose color, to a green, then blue, constantly in flux, like rainbow blood coursing through the vessels of what makes up the unseen of the world. A small fresh scar on my arm, glowing bright, then dark red. Also the hairs on my arm arching up and out, then back towards my skin again (like the Medusa hair, but on a smaller scale).
There were moments when I wasn't sure if I was asleep and half-dreaming, or awake. Falling into the bed, then rising out when, slightly startled by the feeling, I darted my eyes open. Touching doors that I might have seen in dreams. Was the wall that protected the two worlds being broken down? The dream world - the one that is always functioning subconsciously - and the world of mundanity, where we must reason and follow rules. I believe there are protective boundaries created by nature to keep us humans safe, but a little more permeability just like this would be nice sometimes.
1:30 rolls around and we each swallow one pill. I take one or two small hits of marijuana from my bowl.
Several themes occurred again and again: Energy, love, community. As I began to climb on the LSD, I felt excited mostly, then energetic. A minute behind B, I remember feeling anxious only briefly. The climb, I had already been assured, is mildly unpleasant for many. I would have to agree, and for a bit I found myself moved to separate from the group. When my mental state changes, I have noticed an increasing propensity to being alone. I felt sad, the failure of the back yard, the failure of the park, unable to provide my friends a good close place to rest our heads and enjoy our freedom. I felt more alien and out of place then liberated. But as it straightened out - and before the pill kicked in - I began to notice the wonderful measures of light linking from object to object. Enjoyable patterns emerged, I felt child like, immersed in colors; any subject with in itself no longer important, but the patterns that made up the subject intrigued and tantalized (i.e. the ink and colors of Calvin & Hobbes, the visuals of the Of Montreal - Satanic Panic in the Attic poster, the faint light coming through the window) Novelty breeds pleasure, happiness, fascination. I needed to see where this would take me.
Shortly after taking the pill, E moved downstairs to be by himself. H & I sprawled out on the bed and chat a bit, but we mostly stay quiet to explore this novel headspace and await the effects of the MDMA.
As the minutes pass, I notice additional alerts. A gentle wave of warmth and euphoria washes over me, and the visual characteristics become sharper, more electric. Rainbow-static-vortexes wash over the ceiling.
I look at H. H looks back. Her expression is unmistakable and we each know what the other is feeling.
We rush downstairs.
'E! The MDMA works!'
E was laying on the sofa in the living room. We greet him and tell him that we are both feeling the effects of the MDMA and that it is pretty fantastic.
It is a faint rush, a sudden twinge of worry that too much has been downed that suddenly bursts into overwhelming joy and understanding that all is right in the world. In the space in between there is a falling away. The eyes close and the world drops - or more accurately, I slipped from the world, knowing full well it was there but that its rules no longer applied to me and my mind was free to explore at will. With my eyes closed, the patterns in my 'sight' had intensified far beyond a mere hour earlier and as I opened them the world was not there but simply the fractals of light flowing through beautiful dark empty air. I double checked, needing to make sure my eyes were open - they were. I saw what I saw with my eyes open as I would like one fully asleep in a dream. I double checked for extra dimensional creatures. Silly perhaps, but I called out to them having heard B mention them from DMT experiences. I wanted them to be there, but it was only my own voice that rang back at me as I mentally announced my presence and invited others to come join.
The patterns began to be replaced - how long did it take? Not more than ten or fifteen minutes I would guess - by the euphoria and joy of love. All the rough edges were completely gone, smoothed out into an angelic serenity. The room had returned to it's normal state, furniture intact, me physically laying on the couch. I felt very connected to H & B and missed them. As I moved to join them they came down the stairs.
'E! The MDMA works!' said B. We hung out; it's all a bit blurry in my mind, though wonderful. I enjoyed a few more minutes to myself. At some point H and I went upstairs to my room to explore physically, but we wound up mostly just talking in between kisses. We spoke honestly and openly about our relationships, the wonderful stuff along with the pressures we felt we faced. We started to miss B and we also suspected - somewhat accurately I believe - that if we were to go down the path of intimacy too far we might never come back. We made a few notes into the recorder. I remember how amazingly lucid I felt even with the joy of the MDMA running through me. A fascinating combination of the openness of alcohol but remaining completely articulate though certainly very high.
I remember looking out the window and thinking, 'We can't leave now, we're too effed up.' I felt trapped. The green of the trees looked so organic and inviting (MDMA for me had briefly kicked in, then retreated slightly, I think) but I wasn't allowed to go outside and enjoy them. I wondered to myself if this is what crazy people feel, an interior experience so bizarre when described, it's best to keep it to oneself and avoid contact. Likely a picturesque moment with my hand lifted to keep the curtain to the side, watching the outdoors with furrowed brow. I related the sentiment to B. But then suddenly, intensity took him and, even for me, the music grew incredible.
I really loved how lucid we sound on the tape recording. I love how the mind is clear and unfettered by insecurities and 'ummms' and 'uh, well...' and so on. To speak was to explain honestly. No games, minds open, sentiments flowing freely within the friendship triangle of E-H-B, B-H-E.
The floor was rippling bit. The rugs shifted. The curtains moved in the breeze despite the closed windows. I sat on a rug in an alcove near the front of the house and closed my eyes. The clarity of thought was astounding; my every thought resounded in a single voice instead of the usual cacophonous choir of doubts and contradictions. And if I wanted to quiet my mind entirely, I could do so at will. This deep state of meditation was intense to the point that it was nearly frightening. It was too easy to simply forget that I existed in the physical world at all. Vibrant greens and blacks filled the vast void behind my eyelids. I opened my eyes when a tentacled thing cut its way through my visions and pushed the fractals aside like curtains. It was all a bit much.
I found H in the dining area. We sat across the room from one another, in absolute awe of the music. Mum - Finally We Are No One was playing through the stereo. H suggested we try to sing, so we sang along with the music and it felt like light was coming out of my chest and meeting with the light coming out of her to mingle and harmonize in the air between us. I could visualize the waveforms. I was amazed.
H and I grabbed a tape recorder with the intention to record our singing, but quickly forgot about doing so. The boundaries between self and non-self were rapidly crumbling and I felt that an uncontainable well of bliss / empathy / love / unity / oneness was erupting inside of me. The empathogenic qualities of the MDxx merged with with the ego-destroying effects of the LSD and the result was this state of feeling empathy and love for everything in the universe. This was the ++++ experience I'd accidentally stumbled across several years prior. I was there again. It was more than I could take, and I was utterly overwhelmed with gratitude for existing at all, for having the opportunity to experience the beauty of existence, to know what it was just to be here, anywhere, to exist at all was a gift that I did not deserve and could never repay. H and I hit record on the tape recorder.
You can hear me get a bit choked up.
I felt more sober than sobriety, everything was more real than it ever was before. I remember picking up a pen and seeing the electric trails follow my hand, words writing themselves without a writer, energy flowing out of me and into me, everything completely at one with everything else. I remember feeling that love of this profound magnitude must be at least the sum total of the experience of having a child, to feel love to have made a thing that you would happily -- happily -- give your life to.
I'm not sure for how long the plus-four part of this experience lasted, but at this point things went downhill a bit.
E & H expressed a desire to explore each other, and I agreed that they should. This was fine with me and I felt happy for them as they departed for E's bedroom. I moved to the sofa. I started thinking of my girlfriend in Brooklyn, someone I had known for a long time but had only recently become sexually involved with. I watched myself find my cell phone, turn it on, and call her.
She picked up. I told her that I loved her. I had never told her this before. The fact of the matter was that I did love her, but also that this was a profoundly inappropriate time to be saying so. I told her I had taken two hits of LSD and one tab of MDMA. I very quickly realized what I had done and felt extremely embarrassed. Before we said goodbye, she told me to take it easy and told me that the last time I took LSD it seemed to last a very long time... 'seemed like it never ended,' I think were her exact words. Things really took a negative turn here.
We return. B had called his girlfriend and told her he loved her for the first time. Though it appears this is harmless in retrospect, at the time it couldn't help but weigh on our minds. It was not a good decision, but on the other hand what's done is done and there are many many worse things to say to someone. We move on, though it is an added concept that is filled in the back of my head.
There is music played, mostly H, sometimes B, some singing. The Mountain Goats mainly. I've already forgotten which song specifically - someone list here if remembered. [H's Note: The name of the song is 'Linda Blair Was Born Innocent'.]
At one point B says he understands why these drugs are illegal. The more time I have to reflect on that idea and on my own emotional state, I'm not so sure. It in fact strikes me that if one could modify these drugs so that they were much like cigarettes -- harmful over the course of a life time and intensely addictive -- a government could easily control an entire population, enslaving it in much the same way as in Brave New World
. As I walked through the rain today, I was forced to ask myself: If I was able to access that mindstate as easily as picking up a pack of cigarettes after a day's work, would I choose, quite voluntarily, to become a slave? It's a scary thought, and it makes me worry about the joy of what we have felt. Perhaps it's my personality, but after several days of total sobriety I can't deny that I miss it and want to repeat it -- at times almost urgently. It is controllable, completely, but the desire is there and I suspect will remain until time works its magic and the memories fade.
Time was already moving strangely. I wasn't sure what had happened already and what hadn't happened yet, which is an awkward way of saying that time seemed to be moving backwards and forwards. I remembered that I had taken LSD at least ten days prior. I could not, however, figure out what happened in the intervening ten days. With what my girlfriend said on the phone about it lasting a long time, I started thinking that I had taken LSD ten days ago and never come down, that I was still high... and how long had I been in Philadelphia, anyway? Wait. How old was I? How long has this been going on?
I got worried.
E and H returned and we all went to E's bedroom together. I noodled with the guitar, but I didn't really know what I was doing. E or H asked me how long I had been playing, but I didn't understand how I was supposed to interpret the question: A while. Never. Presently. I remained mute and shifted my head side-to-side and shrugged. There were more questions. Words simply escaped me. I was not sure if I was usually able to speak... And who were E and H and how long had I known them? Why were they asking me all of these questions? Were they trying to coax words out of me? And again, what happened in the intervening ten since I last took LSD?
I got paranoid.
I believed -- and I use the word 'believe' in a very loose sense, because these beliefs were qualitatively different from other beliefs -- that E & H were sort of paternal figures for me. I wasn't sure how old I was, but I seemed to think that I was quite young and generally incapable of speaking, and that E & H were trying to help me learn to speak. But for all of their questions, I either had no opinion, or no words, or believed that there was a 'correct' answer and that I was being 'tested.' The idea of being tested frightened me. I noodled with the guitar and tried strumming certain chords in order to try to convey what I was feeling. It was a relief to have the guitar as a sort of nonverbal outlet.
And I could sing. H played the guitar and I sang along a bit. This felt good and was indeed very grounding, but real verbal communication was too much. In short, I was frightened and confused, did not know where I existed in space or time, and couldn't comprehend how the events of the previous week led up to me being in Philadelphia. Additionally, I had no idea how long I had been high. It could have been years. I had no reference points. I was lost.
I tumbled through various delusions in my own head about who E & H were, who I was, why we were together in this place, and how long we'd been here. My broken clavicle no longer ached, and so I thought I was an opiate addict since a drug had taken away the pain. I was asked to read a comic, and so I thought I was illiterate. When I was coaxed into answering simple questions, I thought I was mute. I was provided with water and so I believed that I only drank water and didn't eat food. I experienced a complex delusion of alcoholism, wherein my concepts of alcohol and water became interchangeable, and I believed that my perception of the liquids was incorrect, and that whatever procedure I was presently being made subject to was in order to cure my alcoholism. I saw the scars on my body from my recent bicycle accident and worried that I had inflicted this harm on myself intentionally. I remembered the accident. Had I crashed on purpose? The thought was (and upon reflection, still is) terrifying. I knew that there was something very wrong with me, and that we were conducting an intensive psychoanalysis that forced me to delve into my subconscious mind and into this world I was inhabiting but couldn't understand. Most of all, I felt like I was a child and that E and H were here to try to help me.
Eventually, the effects began to wind down, my delusions ceased, the fear subsided. I regained the ability to speak. I was no longer a child. And despite it going against the plan, I kind of wanted another one of those blue pills.
This intimacy with others lasts and stays powerful. Though we are coming down, I still feel a sense of closeness and relief to have touched on something so beautiful. Towards the end we are lying on my bed. B suggests doing a second one. We agree. Later after I have snorted a part of a pill - a perfect definition of the word unpleasant or simply foul - off my 'learn guitar' book I realize that I do not want more of this, that it is time to even out a bit. It is perhaps a mistake to be the odd man out as B & H both finish their other pills. I am coming down and it is happening fast and hard. Too quick for me to even realize until it is too late, I feel myself exposed, overly so, despite one being my lover and the other a long time friend and confidant. As they are rising again, to a less intense degree, I am shutting them out and losing myself in my own mind. For a while I cannot speak except to offer the occasional reassurance that I'm fine and well, which is true. I feel jealous of their state but also relieved to be in my own head again. For a while I am happy to follow them in body while my mind begins to categorize, sort, search, and make sense of all that has happened to it. I feel awkward but not terrible. B and H are both very kind to me as I slip further and further out of it. I am not use to such intensity nor did I realize how much I would like it. I feel the need to pull back, a feeling that remains for several hours.
At some point, B and I discussed how having experiences like this with other people [especially when a little younger than now] opens a door that may or may not be ready to open. Deep connections are made. They remain, though time passes and people grow apart. A giant hole in space opens, a golden marble is accidentally dropped inside: then the hole closes, the point of gold (the bond) remaining. I had friends and relationships like this in college. I don't necessarily regret them, but they certainly weren't naturally deep -- the opening of the senses through drugs made them pre-emptively intense, and permitted them to exist longer than they ought to have.
While I'm spacey, we head out to H's place to change the environment and hang out with her cat. I stay quiet and withdrawn; once again it does not come from a hostile place but the need to be emotionally alone for a bit. I don't remember too many details: B & H left to smoke cigarettes, I stayed, we all went out to the front porch to enjoy the cool night air, and finally headed back to my place. We stopped by Dock Street first to fill up a Growler with beer. B and I hang out, he offers to talk. I assure him I am fine. After we go home, they pour some beers and I head upstairs. I don't have any beer -- my abstinence here turns out to be a fantastically terrible choice.
In my room with the door locked I am finally alone and face many personal demons -- items that for now will stay private. I light some candles and turn on music, working my way through these very sudden and very strong feelings. They come in waves, exploding and retreating. B & H both stop in to comfort. I push them away for a while longer. H finally comes in, but I have no words for her at the moment. I am disconnected and lost. She is sad - I am empty. I go downstairs for a drink and to see my roomies. I down three shots of frozen vodka and a lager Black & Tan. Ten minutes later the alcohol is working its way through my system and rapidly cutting away the emptiness. Warmth and endearment begin to set in, along with a sense of empowerment. No longer a victim of circumstance, I'm able to finally pull myself together enough to relate to others again. I'm impressed by the power of the booze, it really made me feel okay. H and I talk a great deal. Eventually I swing by B who is near asleep to offer my apology for being so far away. Laid back, he appears calm about the whole situation. With H I smoke the best tasting cigarette of my life -= an unfiltered. D'oh. I quit over a year ago. Totally worth it though. Then, sleep? I'm not sure if there was any intervening events, the last one I really remember is smoking that cigarette. Possibly we drank some more beer, but then off to bed for a much needed sleep.
SIX DAYS LATER:
Sunday and Monday were been rough, largely dominated by an unspecific sort of anxiety, an antsy boredom to do something/anything. By Tuesday, things had levelled off and I was left with a fantastic after-glow, general feeling of confidence, a feeling that I had a deep understanding of myself. I'm not afraid to offer advice or speak confidently. Everything feels right and good. I feel as though my life had previously been riding on rails, and that a possibility for dramatic change for my future has opened. This doesn't feel entirely comfortable. I'd say that my life in the months prior to this experience were 'comfortable.' Now I feel like I'm on a mission. It's good.
I would be curious to repeat this with bk-MDMA instead of the mystery street pills I'd acquired. I think the more grounded character of bk-MDMA would be a fantastic complement for using LSD in this sort of setting. I would also probably lower the LSD dosage to 1 hit. I was overwhelmed. I would also keep valium on hand, and would probably abstain from smoking marijuana, at least until things have pretty much tapered off.
Incidentally, I have not felt the desire to drink alcohol since this experience.
This past week I have had very little urge to drink - I have had a great urge to stay sharp and busy. I've felt great warmth for my family and friends but my dreams are often nightmares, or very vivid and desperate. Things that give me joy are particularly joyful: today my bike ride to work stimulated just like the old days. I can't help but sense, however, that my engagement with these elements of my life is a willful distraction. From what, though? And is this mere residual gratitude from the drug or a real change? Some pockets of emptiness will strike me at moments. Overall, however, I feel more confident & interested in engaging strangers---something I don't typically do with consistency. I am struck also by the lack of art in my life, something B and I discussed in E's room after our peak. A thing I ought to remedy, but not sure how.
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