This was it, I was going to die.
I laid on the floor, struggling for a gasp of air. I felt if I let go I was going to fall down the rabbit hole and never come back. My body forgot how to breath autonomously. The entire fabric of the cosmos was unraveling before me. Nothing made sense. Doubt overcame me, did I even exist? Of course I did. But my friends, my family, my monotonous life I wake up to everyday—none of it seemed real. It was all bullshit. But I existed, at least for this moment. As entropy took over I found myself stating facts, trying to make sense of it, an attempt to bring order from the chaos. “Zero is a number. I have a mother. We’re made up of atoms.” This repetition let me cling onto what little reality was left. But the matrix I’ve been living was stripped away. There was no going back, everything’s changed. I doubted whether my previous life was reality or this is the true face of existence. Maybe the world we perceive everyday isn’t the right one. Who’s there? I was no longer alone. A dialog opened up, not with a person nor my inner-conscious. A sense of euphoria strangled me. For a brief moment I was seduced by the concept of divinity. But this felt different. I was talking to the organism I belong to. There was no voice, for a lack of a better term I had a spiritual connection. I was talking to the universe, I was the universe, as everyone is. I was nothing more than a pocket of carbon wrapped around a combustion of oxygen. A beating heart attached to this insignificant branch of a colossal organism. We’re all connected, I’ve known it scientifically. But this is the first time I’ve felt it. And at that moment when I thought I was going to die, I’ve never felt more alive.
The deep spiritual high started to die down as I regained more breaths, this is only the begging. It was 6:15 pm. We’ve only be under this spell for 20 minutes and it felt like hours. It was barely a couple of minutes ago; I was pulling out my hair and shouting, “Shit! We fucked up! Fuck, fuck, fucking shit!”, to what seemed to be the face of death. Relieved that my last words wouldn’t be that eloquent. I felt flakes on my lips that sent an overwhelming sense of dryness. A drop of sweat trickled down my face that soaked my entire body. The conversation came back, I needed water. Isabel was still on the toilet, manically laughing like a crazed cartoon character as she unraveled the toilet paper into her mouth. Her bright multicolored hair vibrated through the air. It was only seconds ago when she relentlessly convinced herself that this was a mistake. Neither of us could grasp the bipolar nature of the shrooms. It was a trek just to find a cup. Desperate for water I choked and spilled it. A fluid ounce or two caused the entire bathroom to flood. We’ve already torn up this hotel room. I needed to get out. I wanted to exist my own head. It was still a struggle to breath. As I sat down on the bed I noticed the room was not the same. This trip wasn’t a simple hallucination of walls warping like an ocean’s wave. It was so much more than that.
What the fuck was on on my jeans? A foreign square and yellowish pattern replicated everywhere. Faces were forming out of the wooden grain of the TV cabinet, it spread like a virus. Was it Bob Marley? Eyes were starring at me from every direction on almost every object. I looked at the paintings on the wall for comfort, the trees vibrated with blues and reds from a 3D anaglyph. The waves were moving, I was looking through a window. All of a sudden the lights seemed so bright, they were suffocating me as the music resonating from the laptop blasted the room with emotions. I needed to turn them all off, it wasn’t easy. I felt like they were going to kill me. When the room became dark there was a sense of blue. It was calming, the darkness made me feel cool and comfortable. This was my first pleasant trip, at least until the tone of the music changed. There were no lights on, a bright yellow light blasted from behind me. It was all coming back just when it was getting good. The ceiling started to collapse. Trips were short, inconsistent, and unpredictable. It was time to accept that I was no longer in control. I needed to get out. Even if I die in bed, this needs to stop. I crawled into the tucked sheets. They started to crash into me with even stronger hallucinations. Nothing popped out from anything. Visuals formed around already existing textures and objects. But as I closed my eyes an entire scene broke into existence. This wasn’t even the peak. It was only 8:00 pm but I needed to sleep. Wait, it’s eight? That can’t be. It felt like five minutes ago that I was on the floor gasping for air, yet eons have seemed to pass. Time was irrelevant. The gasps came back. The more I closed my eyes, the farther I drifted away, the less breaths I could take. It was time to accept it, this might be my death bed. And at that moment a white light flashed before me, ripping the veil of darkness as I regained my breath. The struggle was over, it was time to enjoy this.
“Why me? Why is this happening to me?”
It was Isabel. She was out from the bathroom and on the floor, begging for mercy to a wall. She was an echo of the sense of helplessness I just overcame. “I need to get out. I can’t do this. This was a mistake. Make this stop. Oh god, this can’t be happening.” I reached over to help her but received nothing but fear. She looked at me like a monster. Her tears were made into rivers. She’d go from pleading to help her to dramatically screaming not to touch her. Frustrated by her indecisiveness and rashness I paced around the room. Passive-aggressive insults were flung at each other along with piercing stares and resentment. “You’re selfish,” she said. I found a dark corner to rest in, an inner darkness came out of me. She’s my best friend, but at that moment I fucking hated her. The perpetual cycle of rejection got to me. Why didn’t she trust me? She clung to her phone, seeking help from the outside word. “Alex, I need you to come here. I need help. I’m scared.” Why couldn’t I help her? I gave up and decided to go back to bed. There were moments where she’d look to me for help followed by yelling at me to shut up. I ignored her. She was an unpredictable bipolar mess and every time she turned me away it brought back a bad trip. I was finally enjoying myself, lots of euphoric trips came into fruition. I didn’t want to lose them again. And there were people in the room next door, fighting and banging against shit, it didn’t help. But even with all the negativity I felt like we were becoming closer. There were moments where I felt like we were the same person. Not only was I connected to the universe, but more than anything I was connected to her. For the moment though, I just couldn’t stand her.
“Andi, I’m having a panic attack.”
Shit! She couldn’t breath. She was undergoing the same trauma I started out with. It shot into my consciousness, she needed water. I dashed into the bathroom, noticing what appeared to be blood in the sink. Suddenly it started to drip from the walls. I told her if she wanted help she needed to trust me. (Not hitting me like she would later on.) I picked her up off from the floor and sat her on the bed. She couldn’t manage to swallow the water and spit it on the bed. I continued to pace around the room giving her space. She told me to come. I resented at first from my past experiences, but she grabbed my arm and pulled me into bed. It was a brief awkward but intimate moment. This wasn’t over. Conflict continued until Alex showed up. But there were more moments of appreciation than resentment. I found myself laying on the floor while she was talking to Alex on the phone. She switched from begging him to save her to telling him, “it’s over.” Isabel felt a drop in intoxication. It’s over? She’s right, it’s over. We both felt it. But shrooms are unforgiving and without warning. Before I knew it I was on the ground feeling immobile, weak, and about to pass out. I stared at the carpet as I watched the threads spiral down, thickening the floor and creating a Dr. Seuss-like forest. It was clear that we were still tripping. It was about 9:00 pm when Alex walked through the door. I couldn’t decide whether it felt like minutes, hours, or days passed since the last time I looked at the clock. He had a stabilizing effect on the room. He was a reminder that there was a reality outside of what replaced our old one. Good trips became more frequent than bad ones. The high became less spiritual and more visual. I took a moment to appreciate the wallpaper, there was a cracked texture pattern. It appeared to actually be cracking. The walls were opening up and a light shined behind it. The hallway twisted like the corridors from the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time. I walked into the bathroom and turned on the light. The intensity of the brightness increased as the sound of the AC roared louder. I felt like I was in a scene straight from the plane crash in Lost. Taken aback from my reflection, I noticed an ugly and morbidly obese boy. I’ve never had the best image about myself, but did I really look this bad? All my insecurities flooded out. I closed the door, pulled down my pants, and sat down on the toilet. The ingrown hairs from my shaved legs seemed more prominent than ever. They were bright red like a strawberry and kept appearing and dissolving all over. On the bright side my legs looked girly. But that was ruined by my feet which appeared to be of a giant. And my arms and hands which have never seemed dirtier and manlier. I was going through an identity crisis. Who am I? I’ve felt like I’ve had a grasp on that. But no longer am I sure. All I knew was that I hated myself. I reflected on all my flaws while watching a piece of toilet paper previously ripped to the ground by Isabel turn into a claymation of a butterfly. Am I ever going to become who I want to be? This day (which felt like years) made me question and doubt everything.
After Alex left there were no more bad trips. The experience was almost over. Isabel crawled into bed as I took a moment to appreciate the last bit of visuals. I sat down on the chair and grabbed her book. As I drew the lines came to life and a printed picture of a rain cloud over an owl animated itself. I felt like there was no going back from this. As lame as it sounds, this was a life changing experience. I’ve never had a day feel so significant. This was more important than a marriage or a first day of school could ever be. When I went home I wanted to be a more productive person, a better person. Especially to Isabel, I’ve never appreciated her more than now. We reflected on the day and apologized for our flaws. Every issue we found in ourselves and each other we had to face. But we did it together, I’ve never felt closer to anyone. Order was restored from the chaos. And even in the depths of the darkest places in our psyches, we found wonder.