It was just three of us: sitting around a kitchen table, surrounded by straight-lined diagrams and pages covered in colourful, girly text, when I got the first message. A slight buzzing sounded — a quiet pounding of plastic against wood.
“I got two, you still ready?”
Was I? This was something that could change me forever. This was a once in a lifetime experience; a modern, and not-so-modern, journey deep into the heart of the unknown. It’ll be crazy. Possibly scary. I might not come back. I might shatter like an already-cracked plate; a Fitzgerald before his time. I had so much I still wanted to do, so much to give. What would I find? Monsters perhaps; demons, horrors, creeping quietly beneath the safe outer exteriors of my psyche. Should I even look? This could be the moment, the ‘Great Change’. All men get one – though some only find it in hindsight.
Was this mine?
“Let’s do it.”
I got there at 10:30. He took a shower before I came, and greeted me at the door with wet hair and a flushed face. “This way…”, he led with a sweep, “into my humble abode.”
He had it kept in a black baggie. “Protects it from the light,” he told me. I nodded. It made sense. He tilted the pouch, and a tiny strip of what looked like orange stickers fell out. It was a lot smaller than I thought, barely the size of my pinky nail. Maybe a bit bigger, but not much. He split them with scissors, and laid both on the table. “Ready?” He smiled.
I stuck one underneath my tongue, and tasted the wet paper. I needed some water. There was a bottle underneath his desk, already full. He was prepared.
And then the waiting began.
The first minutes were quite uneventful.“It takes time” he chirped, “don’t take another one. Sometimes people take multiple, because they weren’t sure the first one was enough. But then they all hit, and ohhhhh booyyy”.
It wasn’t like we had any more for me to take, but I nodded my head. It made sense.
I wondered how I would know when it came. Maybe there would be dragons. Or snakes slipping out of the ground. I was excited. I wanted to see a dragon. But it would still be a while. The first hour hadn’t even passed yet.
My whole life, I felt like my brain and body had some sort of an agreement, that each would take care of its own thing and wouldn’t venture into the other’s territory. My brain could ask my body to jump, and sometimes it would, but other times, it’d be tired and say no and my brain would accept it and that would be that. But now it was like my head was getting a bit antsy, a bit edgy. It wanted more, maybe just a little bit of Poland. And my body was too foolish to notice. Something was happening; something more than a head rush. This is feeling the ocean begin to rise — and the skies begin to spin.
Until you actually do it, you have all these ideas of what it would be like. All these perceptions of what other people think and feel and do while on it. But you don’t understand. Because you never do it, and you can’t invent, can’t extrapolate from simple mundane feelings. You think you know what it’s like to go around the bend, to feel and see things from the other side. But you don’t, because you’ve never been there.
It’s freeing. It’s freedom. It’s being able to step away and look back and seeing all the bitter truths and lies that you both try to hide and hide behind. Why do I give such a shit what other people think of me? Why am I so bound by their feelings and emotions and thoughts and dreams? I don’t need a reason to feel joy. Joy will just come.
I don’t want to want to write anymore. I don’t want to record. There’s a difference between writing for yourself and writing for someone else. When you write for yourself, you try to capture a memory; you try to reach high into your thoughts and feelings and consciousnesses, yet still have a foot on the ground, to have a place to bring back all the magical things you find. Writing for other people is the same, only instead of taking things back, you’re bringing people up. But either way. Something has to be attached. You never leave.
My mind feels like a roulette. Like a ball is spinning and jumping between a hundred different states. Joy, sadness, puzzlement, dread, euphoria, thoughtfulness, sympathy, empathy, apathy, pain, gloom, glee, greed. And as the elixir keeps going, the wheel will keep spinning. But then it’ll stop, and I’ll be on one. And that’ll be the one that I’m stuck on, and I don’t know if that’ll be the one that I want.
Part one of a two-part series.