Citation: thingummajig. "Some Growing Up to Do: An Experience with MDMA, LSD & Cannabis (exp89042)". Erowid.org. Feb 2, 2012. erowid.org/exp/89042
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This all happened a while ago, and I regret not writing about it until now. As with many drug experiences, memories seem to fade even faster than they normally do. Luckily, most details of the evening are still fresh in my mind, as I expect they will be for some time. I realize that this is a very long story, but I can’t make any apologies for that; it’s just as long as it needs to be. If you don’t want to read yet another first-time MDMA story, feel free to skip down to Part II where the shit hits the fan.
It was the first concert of the year, and my two friends and I had been looking forward to it for weeks. I was especially excited for the show – it was one of my favorite artists, and it would be the first time I attended a show high on anything but weed. The three of us each had molly – 150mg for me, 100mg each for my two friends. I had never seen a chemical so pure before. It wasn’t powder, it was legitimate crystal. I had never rolled before, nor had one of my friends (we’ll call her Evelyn. She was the driver that night). In addition, my other friend and I (we’ll call him Jerry) and I were also planning to take a hit of acid. I had taken acid once before, from the same strip, and I knew it to be rather weak. I’d say I reached a + on the Shulgin scale, ++ once I smoked. We also rolled up the last of our blueberry kush in a joint to smoke before the show.
On the day of the concert, a confluence of odd events occurred. Evelyn saw a black cat on the railroad tracks outside her apartment that had been sliced in two by a train. Later, when she was on her way to pick me up, her car got a flat tire and we had to wait an hour at a Wal-Mart while it got replaced. As we drove on the highway to pick up Jerry, we were pulled over for going 86mph. [Erowid Note:
Driving while intoxicated, tripping, or extremely sleep deprived is dangerous and irresponsible because it endangers other people. Don't do it!]
Evelyn wasn’t lucky enough to get off with a warning (female cops...) and as we continued on with a speeding ticket in hand, we were at least glad to agree that it was a good sign that we had gotten our police encounter over with for the day.
The concert was about an hour and a half away, and we left with plenty of time to spare. Jerry and I placed our hits under our tongues when we were about 45 minutes out; Evelyn, who had never done anything stronger than cannabis, abstained. We both still felt at baseline when we arrived at the venue. We parked the car and searched for a place to smoke. We settled at a wonderful, isolated spot behind the venue. The view was gorgeous – we were near a river, and the lights from the nearby metropolis twinkled in the ripples of the water. I felt huge. The blueberry high mingled with the burgeoning acid trip, and I felt the world ebbing with my breath. I was filled with a familiar sense of peace. I grinned at Jerry and said “I think this stuff is stronger than the last time.” He smiled back.
I could feel the acid creeping up as we checked our tickets, stood in line, and waited for the opening act to perform. I was an acid novice, so it’s hard for me to qualitatively describe what the drug was doing to me. It was stronger than my last hit, yes, but still not strong, probably not even 100mcg. Nevertheless, I clearly felt under the influence of a psychedelic. My vision breathed as I did, and I felt a fundamental calmness mixed with excitement. A new sort of energy coursed through my body, the sort that I imagined when I heard people speak of “channeling energy”. The night was off to a great start.
This seems like a good point to pause and describe myself a little. I had tripped several times before – the aforementioned LSD, mushrooms, and 2C-E mostly – and smoked heavily. I had never tripped in a public setting before, and in fact had always doubted that such a thing would be enjoyable. I had also never taken MDMA before, but it had been at the top of my to-do list for years. I am, by nature, introverted and not a little shy. It was something I used to really beat myself up about; I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was always being judged for being quiet or a bore. As I came to realize that other people spent about as much time judging and criticizing me as I did them (that is to say, not really at all), my insecurities faded but my proclivities remained the same. I didn’t usually seek company and had a hard time talking to others. I was fascinated by the potential of MDMA to break me from my shell. I had heard from friends and numerous online reports about how drastically MDMA could increase sociability, empathy, sensitivity – all things that I felt I lacked and wanted so badly when I saw them in others. And, secretly, I badly wanted to dance. Music had always moved my soul, but not my body, and I was far too self-conscious to give it an earnest try. Aside from a few white-guy head bobs, I had never danced, and I privately doubted the ability of even the great MDMA to change that.
Jerry had described the first band’s sound as “some high school kids who play pop music and made it big somehow”, so as they walked onto the stage, I was expected something like a watered-down Belle & Sebastian. Luckily, their live show transcended the album and by the second number I was sold. Jerry was acid-grooving to the music, while Evelyn and I stood near the back and bobbed our white heads. Occasionally I would look at Evelyn and smile, as if to acknowledge how ridiculous it was that there was a rocking band playing with dozens of dancing and free souls all around us and we were too self-conscious to do what everyone else was doing (although for all I knew she didn’t want to dance, and that is, of course, perfectly fine). The joy of the crowd should have been infectious, but I felt slightly too awkward to really get into the spirit.
Jerry and I wanted our roll to peak during the headliner, and the perfect time to take our capsules was as the second act set up. Evelyn bowed out of taking the molly, so Jerry and I each placed capsules containing 100mg of MDMA in our mouths and washed it down with the most expensive bottled water I had ever drank. By this time, the acid had reached its peak effects while the cannabis high was weakening by the minute. The second act began performing – blaring glitch-hop that seemed out of place with the other music, but I loved it regardless. The light show danced overhead in purple and green, the audience became more and more energetic, and I began to play the do-I-feel-it-or-do-I-not game. As the second act wore on, I began sensing a new kind of energy, which increased by degrees until I was convinced that something was happening. But still, it was just that – an energy, but none of the characteristics that I had come to expect.
I do remember the first instant that I knew I was rolling. I was bending my knees and bobbing my head to a particularly intense beat, and a singular thought entered my mind: “My jeans feel really, really good right now…”
And that was it. My jeans rubbing against my legs as I moved felt good in a way that nothing had ever felt good before, like a magical, perfectly soft fabric rubbing along the smoothest skin. And at that instant, the other effects of the drug began to fill me. The music took on wonderful new qualities – where before the music had seemed almost too loud, I now relished in the volume. My senses were hungry for everything, and I devoured the lights, the now-beautiful clothing and movements of those around me, and the MUSIC. I had the thought some months before, while listening to a sprawling ambient Shpongle track while on 2C-E, that psychedelics didn’t just improve music but totally altered it. It was like software running on different hardware; like it pushed separate and previously unknown switches. MDMA is similar, I think. I didn’t simply begin to enjoy more the music I had been hearing, it took on a brand new quality. I could feel the pounding bass shake my body, but it resonated throughout every part of me. I was like a starving man, and the music was my feast.
And I danced. My inhibitions were wiped away at once, but it wasn’t just that. It was like I knew just how to dance, like I had always known but had never embraced it until now. One of my greatest fears about dancing had been that I simply didn’t know how. That night, I learned how easy it is. I didn’t have to know what to do, I just did it. My body, the music, and the drug corroborated to make my movements virtually unconscious. The urges of movement that had peeked from my depths whenever I listened to good music were finally exercised. I moved my feet, my hips, my arms… I just did what my body told me to do, and I loved it deeply.
The second act left the stage, and the three of us sat down at one of the small tables in the back of the room. Getting off my feet was an amazing feeling; all the energy that I had been expending on the dancefloor now surged through my body, bouncing around on my insides at a hundred miles an hour. Even something as simple as breathing was a delight. I felt like I was humming in harmony with the vibrations of everything around, and every breath was perfect, just like it was supposed to happen. I had the hugest grin plastered on my face, and at that moment I couldn't understand why there was so much sadness in people when everything was so, so beautiful...
I turned my attention to my two friends. Jerry was smoking a cigarette and wore a smile to match mine. We exchanged a look, and I'm sure he understood what was on my mind just as well as I understood what was on his. I turned my attention to Evelyn, and in an instant every kind thing she had ever done for me flashed into my mind. I was struck by the things she had done for me out of the goodness of her heart, and I was awestruck by the simple beauty of that. Any time that someone does something out of the goodness of their heart, it is a beautiful and sacred gift and I won't forget it.
My friends and I guzzled water and talked; I don't remember about what. As the headliner was setting up to perform, I remembered that I had another capsule containing 50m of molly in my pocket. I hesitated – I already felt great, did I need more? Might it be too much? I thought back to last year, to the first time Jerry and I had ever tripped. We had taken Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, and I had said I didn't want to smoke because I wanted to experience the trip on its own. “Alright,” Jerry said, “but for what it's worth, maybe it's not about having a Hawaiian Baby Woodrose experience but about having an experience. It can only make you feel better.” I had no answer for that then, and I didn't now. I happily swallowed my capsule just before the band came onstage.
I've avoided mentioning the names of the artists at the concert, since that lineup only played a few shows together and (for reasons that will soon become clear) it wouldn't be too difficult to identify my friends. Suffice to say, however, that the headlining band was perfect for the state of mind I was in that night. The acid and the MDMA had peaked, and the music was warm, familiar, and childlike. My dancing became more varied, but more importantly, I had fallen in love with my movements. There was nothing, I thought, that I would rather be doing at that moment. Not content to stay in one place, I started dancing in circles around Evelyn, who would laugh at the spectacle. Every time I saw any positive emotion on her face, I felt my soul lift correspondingly.
We had brought about fifteen pairs of rainbow glasses to the show (if you don't know what those are, they're cardboard glasses with plastic lenses that act as prisms and show spectra of color surrounding all sources of light), and I had been sporadically wearing a pair throughout the night. Jerry was standing near the speakers to the right of the stage, and he motioned me to join him. He had been talking to a guy with light gloves on, and almost before I knew what was happening, I was getting my first light show. My jaw dropped, and after I had almost immediately put on my rainbow glasses, my jaw dropped to the floor. I can't describe in words what it looked like... it seemed like every color, everywhere, times seven. “That was amazing, dude!” I shouted when he was finished, and gave him a hug. He was sweaty; I didn't care.
Inspired, I took the other pairs of glasses out of my pocket and dashed to the back of the room. The first person I offered a pair to declined but, undeterred, I looked for a new target. I greeted an attractive blonde girl in the middle of the room. “I like how you dance!” I said, and handed her a pair. Her face lit up when she put them on. She thanked me and gave me a hug, and I went off in search of someone else. I found a group of a few guys who were clearly having a good time. I tapped the nearest one of the shoulder and offered him the glasses. The instant he put them on, his face lit up with delight. He started laughing and flashing the biggest smile I had ever seen. “Try this fucking things on!” he shouted to his friends, and I watched their reactions as one by one they too suddenly burst into joy and delight. With each person that put them on, my mood lifted and lifted until I was in perfect bliss over how happy I had been able to make these strangers. The glasses made their way back to the first man, and he tried to give them back to me. I waved my hand. “They're yours,” I mouthed, and danced away.
The rest of the show went like that. I danced, making sure to buy a bottle of water whenever my mouth felt dry (and once tipping the nice ladies at the bar $5). I only stopped dancing a few times to hug Evelyn. She's a lot like how I described myself earlier, and it seems like sometimes we have a hard time talking to each other for that reason. It was an amazing feeling having those barriers broken down and being able to see and talk to my good friend the way I had always wanted to.
But of course, the show had to eventually end. We filed out almost immediately. A part of me was disappointed, and I still wanted to do nothing but dance to loud electronic music. As soon as I stepped outside, though, I knew that was just where I wanted to be. It was a cool night, and it offered a whole new range of sensations than the loud and stuffy room in which I had spent the last few hours. My skin tingled, the cold air refreshed and reinvigorated me. The three of us quickly found a bench of the street near the river. It's hard for me to describe just how everything looked at that moment. Everything took on an ineffable quality, like a sparkle, and like breathing. The river stretched on and on, as far as I could see, and a rainbow of colors reflected and refracted on its surface from the buildings on the other side. I looked at Evelyn; she smiled, and I at last realized what a beautiful girl she really is. I looked at Jerry, and all the qualities I admired and loved in my old friend seemed to be painted on his face. The world there on that bench was, in a word, perfect.
“You know,” I began, “I've always thought that if a person says something about somebody when they're not around, then you know they really mean it, right? Well, Evelyn, I was talking to Jerry the other day and I said 'you know, Evelyn is a pretty cool kid.' And he said 'yeah, Evelyn is really cool.' He said that, Evelyn! He didn't have to say it, but he did!”
Jerry smiled hugely and nodded. “It's true, I did say that!”
We continued in this fashion for a few minutes, taking delight in the delight we brought our friend. There was a pause in the conversation. “Jerry,” I said abruptly, “square up!” I immediately sat upright and extended my arms as wide as I could. He did the same, and we hugged. I don't think we had done that in years. “I love you, man,” I said, and he replied the same. “We don't do that enough, man” Jerry said, and I agreed. I hugged Evelyn and told her I loved her too.
We still had a little bit of weed left, and after making sure that no one would walk up on us, we each took two or three hits from Jerry's one-hitter. The weed brought back some of the feelings I had earlier, but I felt like it augmented the acid more than the MDMA. We laughed and talked for a few more minutes before Evelyn decided that she was cold. We agreed to talk back to the car to get a jacket and warm up. I stood up and walked away with two of my closest friends, on top of the world, full on the life and love that had always surrounded me but that I had never noticed before.
It was much warmer in the car. I hadn't noticed how the cold had affected me, but I was glad to be out of the breeze. My friends and I continued our conversation from the bench with unabated good vibes. After a few minutes, one of us in the car commented on a group of young men on bicycles slowly riding up the sidewalk about ten feet in front of the car. I won't mince words – these were some shady-looking motherfuckers and they had clearly either just gotten in some shit or were about to. And in fact, just a few seconds after we noticed them, a police cruiser rolled up behind them and turned its lights on. We quickly assessed the situation: it was 2am in a bad part of town, we were the only car in the lot, and it looked like they were there to sell us drugs. Even if it didn't we all agreed that this was not a place we needed to be. We pulled out of the lot and got the hell out of there. We drove around aimlessly for a minute, looking for a place to settle. But before Jerry could say that we were going the wrong way down a one-way street, we slammed into the side of a police car. [Erowid Note:
Driving while intoxicated, tripping, or extremely sleep deprived is dangerous and irresponsible because it endangers other people. Don't do it!]
I don't remember what happened immediately after the crash. I saw right away that we had hit the car as it was traveling to the left. The two vehicles were sprawled across the intersection at odd angles. I couldn't see the damage to Evelyn's car, but I saw that we had hit the police car in the back, not the front. The officer appeared to be unharmed, and so did we. We were in shock. All I remember until I was taken out of the car was Evelyn's crying, and Jerry and I trying to tell her it would be okay. But she was beyond consolation. My heart went out to her in that moment, and I will never forget that look in her eyes.
I don't remember how long it took for backup to arrive on the scene. It seemed like ages, but with the volume of cops in the area, it couldn't have been long. Police were everywhere around the intersection, and they continued to arrive as events transpired. An officer came to my door first.
“Step out of the car.”
“Am I under arrest?”
“No, you're not.”
“Do I have to get out of the car?”
“Yes, you do.”
I got out. I was terrified. I didn't know what the laws regarding people in my situation were, and I didn't know if it mattered. We didn't just hit any car, we hit one of their own. I didn't have anything on me, but I was high as a kite and I didn't put it past the police to make my life very difficult anyway.
“Do you have any drugs on your or anything I should know about?”
“Well, you mind if I search you so I know you're telling the truth?”
“Yes sir, I do mind.”
“I need to search you so I know you're not carrying a weapon or something you can hurt me with.”
I didn't know if that was true or not, but I realized that I wasn't going to keep this man out of my pockets. I consented, and he started to pat me down.
“Is there anything that's going to poke me in there? Nothin' sharp?”
Once satisfied that I was clean, he had me stand with another officer off to the side while they dealt with my friends.
The cop they stuck me with was a real “tough guy,” one of those who are out to give you a hard time.
“So why didn't you want to be searched earlier, huh?”
“I'm a man of principle.”
He shook his head. “It just makes you look guilty...” He sounded somewhat disgusted. I didn't reply, and instead watched what was going on with my friends. Jerry was going through the same ordeal that I had with the cop. My heart sank. He wasn't clean – he had his one-hitter, and worst of all, he was carrying Evelyn's capsule of molly. I prayed that he had the presence of mind to swallow it in the car.
The exchange between Jerry and the cop was becoming heated. I was situated too far away to make out what they were saying, but I could tell that Jerry was standing his ground in refusing to be searched without being charged with a crime, and the cop, sensing that he had his man, was insisting with every-increasing fervor that Jerry let himself be searched. I don't know what the breaking point was in the standoff – I expect that the cop threatened to call in drug dogs and it would only make it worse for Jerry if he did. In any case, I watched as the officer reached into Jerry's pocket. He found a cigarette pack and looked inside. He looked at Jerry, and I watched his lips form the words “you are under arrest...” Jerry turned around and held his head high as the cuffs were placed around his wrists. He was led to the back of a squad car, and the police turned their attention to Evelyn.
Evelyn proved to be a much easier target. Jerry and I had a few run-ins with the police between this, but she was much more naïve. To give you an idea of the environment she comes from: She grew up on a small farm in a very conservative family in the South. Her parents are unambiguously racist. When she was in high school, she was literally almost disowned for briefly dating a black guy. In spite of all this, she is an extremely cool person, very open-minded and modest and thoughtful. She had been smoking infrequently, almost exclusively with me, since last year, but that was it. This is all by way of saying: she was terrified, and didn't know what to do. Her parents still play a highly active role in her life, and she had just gotten high and ran into a police car. I don't think anything worse could have been happening to her right now in her eyes.
Evelyn was right next to me as the police asked her questions, so I could hear every word that was said.
“Did you have anything to drink tonight?”
“Did you smoke anything?”
“Yes, I did.”
“I smoked with them about an hour ago.”
I froze. I was less concerned with being implicated in anything myself at that moment, but I knew she had just given herself away. There wasn't anything she could do to help herself now. But I can't blame her for it. Even if she had denied it, even if she had passed the field sobriety tests, they would have taken her in to get a blood test and it would show that she'd smoked. The cop just nodded. “Alright,” he said, “we're going to give you some sobriety tests now.”
I didn't watch as she performed them, though I did smile when I heard her absolutely nail the backwards alphabet. I had been too distracted to realize that my trip was still going strong, but now, as I sat in short sleeves in the October night, in a strange city surrounded by hostile police, watching these friends who I respected and loved on the brink of being hauled away, I plunged into negativity. I was still terrified that I was next. I was obviously lowest on their list of priorities, but once they had put away the big fish, what would happen to me? Was I an accessory to something? I was plagued by doubt, and I was plagued by the injustice the universe had just shown me. In an orientation for my job this year a few months earlier, I had been asked who my hero was. I thought a moment, and replied “my friends.” It was these two I had in mind. Jerry was my best friend since sixth grade, my roommate, my trip partner. So much about how I saw the world, I owed to him. And the goodness of Evelyn affected me in the same way. We all have friends, but few and far between are the friends we can truly say we respect, who connect to us on a deeper level, and who inspire us to better things by their examples. These were smart people, all of us on full scholarship at our school, people who committed themselves to living harmless lives. And yet here they were, facing an infinitely frightening uncertainty.
It was no comfort to me that I couldn't even blame the police for what they were doing. Yes, if our drug laws were the way I thought they should be, Jerry would be in as little trouble as I was. But I couldn't ignore the fact that we really did hit a police car, and but for half a second's difference, we really could have killed him. I couldn't expect them to act any differently than they did, and yet it all seemed so unfair. I sat, shivering, for what seemed like hours. I became frantic, and my fear worsened. By and by, my thoughts dissolved into one shaking mantra: “I want this to be over. I want this to be over.” I'm not proud of my lack of courage at that moment, but it is what it is. It's an experience that I hope I've learned from.
One of the officers approached me. I froze up.
“You're free to go,” he said. I couldn't believe it. My disbelief must not have shown, because he continued unabated.
“Do you have anyone you can call that can pick you up?”
“Yeah, I'll call my girlfriend.”
“How far away does she live?”
“I think it'd be a couple of hours from here.”
“Alright. There's a hotel a couple of blocks away. If you want, we can drive you over there.”
“Er... no thanks, I can walk,” I said, wanting nothing less in the world to be in the back of a police car at that moment.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I am.”
They were done with me, but I still had one thing to ask.
“What's going to happen to them?”
“Well, she's going to jail for a DUI. And the other one's going in for paraphernalia.”
My hopes brightened at that last statement. If it was just paraphernalia, and not possession... that must mean they didn't find the molly! Holding this one bit of good news in my heart, I took my phone out of my pocket and walked off.
It was a hard call to make. My girlfriend (we'll call her Ally) has been Evelyn's best friend since their freshman year of high school; in fact, that's how Evelyn and I knew each other. I don't need to repeat the phone call here – I told her what happened, she asked if I was okay, I said yes. She told me to just find a place to stay until she could get there. I thanked her profusely, and when I told her I loved her, I don't think I had ever meant it that much before.
Now that I was away from the police, I was faced with a new problem. In my hurry to get away from the scene of the crime, I neglected to ask exactly where the hotel was. I had a vague direction, and I determined to walk that way until I found it; damned if I was going back to ask. Now a new anxiety began to creep in, since it was now very late at night and the part of town I was in looked none too friendly. Thankfully, fate smiled upon me, and I came upon the hotel after only about ten minutes of walking. I braced myself for whatever was to come, and walked in.
The lobby of the hotel was fairly small, with pairs of cushy chairs lining the glass walls. I approached the woman standing behind the long reference desk. She put on her best friendly face and introduced herself as Cindy, and asked if there was anything she could do for me. I took my best shot: “Is this somewhere I can just... stay for a little while?”
Her look told me that I hadn't expressed myself clearly enough. I hastily told her my story, why I was in town and how I ended up in her hotel at two in the morning. “Wow...” she muttered. “Why was she driving?”
“I didn't really think she was high,” I replied, and it was somewhat true.
Cindy still understandably seemed to regard me with a bit of skepticism. She didn't seem keen on letting me stay in her lobby forever, but she said I could sit there for a while. I was more interested in chatting with my new acquaintance, and I asked whether it were alright if I stood at the desk and talked to her, or if I should sit my ass down. She looked bewildered. “That's a sit-your-ass-down face,” I decided, and plopped down on one of the chairs against the wall.
The distance didn't keep me from conversation with Cindy. It already seemed like the scene with the cops was in the distant past, and now I was reminded of the mixture of psychoactives massaging my brain. The MDMA made me sociable and honest, the LSD put me in a peaceful state of mind, and the cannabis gave the whole thing a slightly surreal twist. I was fascinated by what I was able to do. If I had been in that lobby sober, I wouldn't have uttered a word to her. I would've replied to what she was saying, but I wouldn't have taken any pleasure in the conversation. But as it was, I was beginning to clean bits of her life story. She had a boyfriend, and he had a son from a previous marriage. The ex-wife, the boy's mother, was rather insane, and made life difficult for all of them by her constant intrusion. Cindy had to work the late shifts at the hotel, which obviously interfered with her family life. However, she had an interview for some sort of management position in the hotel. She was experienced, and she liked her odds. My soaring empathy elevated this woman in my eyes; I was happy and proud for her that she was so capable and determined. I assured her that she and her family would be fine and that I was proud of her.
Before long, though, we had a visitor. A taxi pulled up in front of the hotel, and a rugged brown-haired man in his 40s stumbled out of the cab and into the lobby. He was beyond drunk; he staggered up to Cindy and leaned over the desk for support as he explained his situation.
“I need... to pay the cab driver, and Imma get a room.”
“Alright,” Cindy replied. “You should go do that, then.”
The man paused. “I needa pay the cab driver, and then I'm gonna get a room.”
Cindy wasn't blinking. “Alright, well, you should go do that, then.”
Pause. “I don't have any money.”
Cindy was handling the situation with the measured patience of a woman who had done this many times before. “How were you going to get a room, then?” she asked calmly.
“Oh... I have a card, but I need cash for the cab. He don't take cards.”
“How much is the fare?”
His words hung in the air for a few seconds, when I hopped up out of my chair and approached him while reaching for my wallet. “Here, man, just take this,” I said as I handed him a bill. “Go give this to the driver and we'll figure the rest out in here.”
Once the cab was taken care of, a new problem arose. The man had no form of identification on him, which meant he wasn't allowed to get a room. He would have get another cab, which meant braving a walk to the ATM a few blocks away. Cindy explained that it was near a White Castle, and his face brightened. “Listen, do you guys want any White Castle?” he drawled. Cindy and I shook our heads. “Well, I'm gonna get us some anyway,” he said, each word slowly uttered without ever changing the look of his face. I asked if he could check out the scene around the White Castle to see if there was a wreck there, or police cars. I figured this was a longshot. And away he went, thanking us for our help and confirming the directions as he left. “We'll never see him again,” Cindy said as she lit up a cigarette.
Cindy and I resumed our conversation after the man left. I found out that she had been diagnosed with cancer when she was a teenager, but had luckily made a full and relatively quick recovery. After I expressed my congratulations, her voice lowered. “Actually, though... they think I might have it again,” she said with the voice of a person sharing a secret. “In my colon.”
As she described the various medical procedures that led to this hypothesis, I was struck by three things in particular. I strongly got the impression that this new cancer was something she hadn't told many people about. It was certainly very recent, and private; yet here was this woman spilling all of this to a stranger clearly out of his gourd. I was also surprised at the frankness of her descriptions. Examinations relating to colon cancer are obviously a very private matter that people would typically shy away from relating, yet once again, here she was telling it all to a stranger. And finally, I was impressed with her composure. She delivered the news of this latest cancer almost as if it were a joke, like and-as-if-my-life-weren't-fucked-enough, and I never detected any fear on her face or in her words. My curiosity won out.
“Cindy, you seem really... calm about all of this. Aren't you freaked out, or scared?”
“Well, the way I see it, I already beat this thing once so I have that going for me. And if it ends up being the death of me then, well, I guess it'll kill me.”
I was in awe of this person before me, who had just confidently delivered a big fuck-you to death. We will all die, and most of us will come to peace with this fact before our time. I imagine that most who are able to achieve this do so by simple acceptance. They realize that it's a part of life, and they can control how to approach it. Some remove the taboos, appreciate it, joke about it. Death can't be defeated by fighting, but only by laughter.
After this talk, Cindy began walking to the front door to have a cigarette outside. I remained sitting. There was a small part of my old introverted self that didn't think she'd want to have me around while she smoked. But before Cindy opened the door, she looked at me and said “well, aren't you coming outside?” I smiled hugely and followed her out. It was such a morale boost to have someone truly desire my company. Outside, it was colder than it had been all night, but my psychedelic jacket kept out the chill. Cindy and I continued talking, and when replying to a question I had asked, she broke off mid-sentence. “Oh my god,” she said. “He's back.”
And indeed, the man from the cab had returned. He hadn't sobered up one bit, and in each hand he was carrying a massive White Castle bag. I greeted him excitedly, and asked whether he had the cash for another cab. He looked at me with glassy eyes, and replied “naw... I couldn't find the ATM.” I shook my head and without any surprise in my voice, I asked him to come inside and sit down and we'd figure something out.
From here, the night finally began to come to a close. We decided to call another cab for the man and let them figure it out when it got here. My girlfriend called me to tell me she was close and to make sure she was in the right place. I was having a lot of fun with Cindy, but I was elated to get that call. I was drained. The MDMA was finally beginning to wear off, and I could tell I was on the acid comedown as well. I didn't “crash”, but it was now very late and I had spent the last several hours partying or stressed. I wanted to sleep in my bed, try to put this day behind me. Thoughts of my friends came flooded my mind, and I saw them alone in jail, with no way of knowing what would happen to them next. I felt survivor's guilt, though I chided myself for it. My best friend from high school is pretty reliably awake late into the night, and I texted him to explain the situation and to ask him to find out potential penalties for what my friends were arrested for. My heart sank when I heard that Jerry's MDMA could land him up to a year in jail, and I hoped once more that he had eaten it.
Soon afterward, my girlfriend arrived. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, love, relief when I saw her. While Cindy was in the back office typing something up, I hastily wrote her a card thanking her for her kindness and wishing her good luck on her interview the next day. I shouted a goodbye to my new friend, got into my girlfriend's car, and finally drove away.
The next day, I walked to my bank and emptied out my account. Evelyn's bond was $500, and I had just over that in savings. A friend and I drove to the town the next day intent on freeing her, but when we arrived we were told that she was already gone. When I inquired about Jerry, I was informed that his bond has been posted as well. A bit confused, we returned home. We found out that both of them had been freed by their parents, and were waiting at home. The legal details began to emerge. I won't bore you with the details, but in the end, Evelyn got a DUI and a few months of probation, while Jerry is on a diversion program. Assuming he passes all of his drugs tests for three months, the charges will be dropped and erased from his record.
That night obviously left a great impact on me. Each main part of the evening taught me a particular set of lessons, it seemed.
At the concert, I was finally freed of my inhibitions and had what I still call the time of my life. I discovered an appreciation of dancing that was particularly infectious the first few days afterward, when I just felt like dancing everywhere I went. It was as if I could feel the rhythm (or, rather, the beat) of the universe. I still get a sense that all of these aftereffects were largely the result of one moment at the show, when I just Got It. It was sublime, perfect peace and bliss. It was an amazing feeling of appreciation of everything and especially everyone around me, connectedness with the ground I was standing on, awash in the goodness of humanity.
I suppose you might expect me to say the the crash scared me straight... unfortunately, you'd be wrong. But there was a lot I took away from it. First of all, my single piece of advice to anyone reading this is to absolutely minimize the time you spend with drugs on you in a vehicle. When you're in your house, you're in one small spot where the police never are. When you're driving, you put yourself in the situation to cover the most possible ground while the most possible police cars are also covering the most possible ground. And if you have the misfortune of being young, male, and especially not-white, you're at an even higher risk. And while I'm not here to criticize high drivers - I feel safe riding with a number of friends when they're stoned and trust their abilities - this is as good a time as any to reflect on your high driving, whether you honestly think it impacts your reaction time or anything like that. If you are a great high driver, then knock yourself out. But a little self-honesty can keep you safe in unexpected ways.
When I was at the motel waiting, I had the unique (for me) opportunity of going through the entire friendmaking process in only a few hours. For someone who has always had difficulty speaking to strangers, the memory of that is invaluable. I was able to draw on that experience, and not only did it make it easier for me to communicate with others, I began to truly find pleasure in it. I felt like my barriers were broken down, and I realized that those barriers were only put up by me to keep myself from having any fun.
After having an experience like that, it is sometimes difficult to understand how people could not be lining up to have one like it. One person I talked to said that he didn't want the euphoria that came from a chemical like MDMA, but rather he found his joy through love, beauty, etc. It was only a few weeks later (always too late on a good comeback) that I found a quote from Jonathan Ott, author of the Psychedelic Encyclopedia: “we're all on drugs, all of the time.” It may be an oversimplification to say that oxytocin is the “love hormone,” but it does play a role our subjective experience of many aspects of love. But what makes his oxytocin-based love more valuable and true than my MDMA-based love? Our emotions are made possible by the cocktail of endogenous drugs flowing throughout each of our brains. What matters is what you feel, and if you feel it, it's real. The experience I had that night was real, and it was powerful. The drug was responsible for the effects on my mind that night alone, but the long-lasting changes the experience left only occurred because I allowed myself to grow from the experience. The MDMA, LSD, and cannabis were tools – indispensable ones, in this case, but tools nonetheless. They allowed me to improve my mind within its own framework.
And in spite of the crash, the worry, and the fear, I still count it as one of the best nights of my life. It's psychonaut wisdom that bad trips are often the best ones, because you learn more about yourself during a turbulent psychedelic experience than during a happier one. Myself and others in the psychedelic community often forget that the principle is only an instance of a larger truth: that difficult times and risky situations not only show you who you are, but by pushing the boundaries of experience, you show yourself what you are capable of.
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