Dropping acid at a music festival

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The shore was empty save for the five of us, fully clothed, and an older gentleman stomping around in the waves, fully nude. I sat cross-legged on a towel and appeared deceptively at ease, playing with sand, gazing out at the water. Unlike natural psychedelics, LSD is unmistakably chemical. It did not make me feel at one with nature so much as fearful of it. I watched, uneasily, as freckles swam around on my thighs like tiny autonomous bumper cars. I dipped my hands into the sand over and over, observing how the granules clung to my skin like sticky magnets.

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I watched the murky blue expanse in front of me as it tilted almost imperceptibly towards me, the water threatening to swallow me whole. As I disappeared further into the trip, my physical surroundings were drowned out by the gravitational swirl of my mind. At some point, I took my friend Ian aside. Our deated sober guide. Several terrifying years later, known to the sober world as two hours, I came to: I was standing among my friends.

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I felt cool grass under my bare feet, a warm breeze against my skin. The sun had sunk behind the water and a familiar melody floated over us from a nearby stage.

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For a long time, nothing could convince me the mind-bending thought-spirals, which made me feel like an unwilling captive of my own mind, were worth the funny story. A couple days after the show, as my friend Lydia drove us back up the coast, I proclaimed myself done with acid forever.

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This was a common creed among our group at the time — that a bad trip was one rational thought away from being good. But it never quite worked in my experience, because drugs warp your mental makeup, sometimes beyond recognition.

That a particular line of thought might accompany you to the other side is never a guarantee. In fact, this is central to the appeal of most drugs. We are perpetually trapped in our current experience, whether the condition is clear to us or not. Because we see the world through whatever glasses are strapped to our faces at a given moment: rose-colored, psychedelic, the muted palette of depression. Begrudging this is the stuff of great literature, and probably many diaries.

But like that day on the beach, such clarity eludes me over and over. Emotions and delusions cling to my mind like sticky magnets. That very view is what has lead me to believe my emotions are something to solveor my swings something to diagnose. Dropping acid at a music festival these traits are just as ephemeral as moods. They ebb and flow like waves in a pool, greeting and then leaving me without my consent. My affections wax and wane, too. I can no sooner escape that cycle than I can intellectualize my way out of an acid trip.

Because it always comes back, unfortunately and fortunately.

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Some time between the bumper car freckles and the cool grass, my friend Thos and I were standing in a sandy nearby parking lot, preparing to walk to the concert venue. I stared back, confused and unsure. Later, we laughed about the moment. But in time, that surprises me less and less. And treating ebbs and flows as marks of animation rather than proof of an unreliable self. Being high, in the end, is not so different from being sad or happy or fulfilled.

Each is its own small unit of insanity, showing us parts of ourselves, blinding us to others, and then slotting in as another step on the road to being us, and being alive. Animation by Madeline Montoya. By Nora Taylor. By Harling Ross. By Paula Skaggs. Search Clear Search. Next story Archive. Close Newsletter Modal Giving us your is the coolest! All yum, no spam.

Dropping acid at a music festival

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