BY: M. TOMOSKI
I was halfway to Detroit Metro when I realized that my plan had been poorly timed. The flight to New York was scheduled for 7:30AM and no amount of caffeine or water was going to stop the lights from bursting out of their bulbs and into my eyes. But much worse than that, I couldn’t explain to B* why entering the TSA’s human conveyer belt was not in my best interest. She had sworn off drugs for nearly a year and I wasn’t prepared to interrupt what had to be some kind of personal record. I was adrift without an anchor and if I could just make it through probing it held the promise of being better than sex.
My immediate feeling was one of fear, and for good reason. A well doped friend of mine once described the experience as a deep self reflection. A fun house mirror into which you’re forced to stare and see your true self entirely. There’s no doubt, the intensity is tangible.
“If salvia is at the bottom,” he says, “acid is the peak. And DMT is the bonus round.”
Photo: Alyssa Russo
Even Hunter S. Thompson thought acid guru Timothy Leary was delusional to claim that the solution to all humanity’s ails was to spike the punch and watch as the whole world ran naked through the streets in an Aquarian daze screaming at the top of their lungs: “It’s happening!”
And yet, for what it’s worth, anyone who has ever had the pleasure of experiencing acid in a stable environment will agree that it’s a trip worth taking. But at the moment it was kicking in all too soon.
The majority of the average trip is spent in a listless sense of uncertainty that anyone could experience by going several days without sleep. Married to that feeling is a ten thousand volt charge to the senses and a stubborn bout of insomnia. But what terrifies people most is the uncertainty and the prospect that once you’ve taken the plunge you’re thoroughly fucked for a good chunk of the day.
Still, a sure way to keep a bad trip at bay is the right people, the right place, and the right music. But, as I’d been told, “if you’re dealing with mommy issues when you drop acid you can be damn sure that it’ll be your mother’s face screaming at you through the walls.”
I was on good terms with my mother that morning when my tired stupor gave way to the bright lights of McNamara Terminal. So I figured I had nothing to lose. This was about seeing New York for the first time in the best way I could possibly imagine.
As I bent down to remove my shoes, I could feel it finally taking hold. The moment I stood upright I had the uneasy feeling that stepping into the x-ray machine would give me away. That revolving tin can was going to cause me to trip balls and the large woman behind the monitor would see my genitals shrivel in the process. I stretched out as instructed, tried to breathe deep, and remembered that they were all clueless. None of them had been trained to expect such stupidity.
Faces jolted at me from all directions as I stood in awe on the moving walk. The eager faces of families herding their children toward the boarding gate, passed the perfume ads, magazine stands, burger joints, duty free jewelry, and a strange fountain that shot water in perfect little arches.
In the waiting area my eyes were drawn to two older gentleman in leather vests that read “Hell’s Angels” South Carolina chapter. It was as if Ken Kesey was poking at me from the grave and for whatever reason it brought me to a sense of calm.
When we finally boarded I settled in next to the window and prepared for the ride of my life. It was the early morning and everyone was pulling at the blinds with the intention to sleep the next hour and forty-five minutes away. ‘What fools’, I thought, ‘don’t they understand what’s about to happen?’ They were lost, every one of them, numb to the childlike wonder at being launched effortlessly into the sky.
I called to the attendant for water and prepared to witness the clouds torn apart like cotton candy and the ground below me etched into the snow as if it were a canvas.
I had an eternity to stare through the window as the city sprawled before me in all directions like a hive. Like a living, breathing, concrete beast. And in the moment, that was everything.
When we finally made landfall I would have the better part of a 10 hour trip to marvel at the barren streets of the West Village on the coldest week New York had seen since the ’50s. But for the time being, I had an eternity to stare through the window as the city sprawled before me in all directions like a hive. Like a living, breathing, concrete beast. And in the moment, that was everything.
*Name omitted to preserve identity.