A Stoner’s Trip

DISCLAIMER:  This is fictional story.  It is an instalment of a series of fictional stories involving drug use as a central plot theme.  Reader discretion is advised.  The provision of this story over the Internet, or through any other means of communication, is not to be interpreted as a suggestion or recommendation to use drugs.  The reader assumes any and all responsibilities derived from his or her actions.

2008 06 07, Salvia Divinorum, by George Bookman (.txt)


Last night, Boris had a small party.  It wound down sometime around two or three this morning.  It was Joey, Boris, Han, and I.

Conversation came around to drugs, specifically acid.  I reiterated to them my desire to try this drug, which Boris and Han have used.  Han mentioned that he was going to try to get some, but that he wanted to test it first before making any large purchase.  Boris considered this wise.

I mentioned that Frank Clear was also interested in trying acid, which he has, to date, not tried.

Joey, who does not seem to have much interest beyond alcohol, sat listening to us.  By the conversation, it was clear that Boris had some acid, but was holding it for Han, who I suppose has already bought it from him.  I also found it unfortunate, but not surprising, that Boris had no marijuana that night.

Then Han brought up salvia.  I had heard of Salvia divinorum, the most potent naturally-occurring psychoactive drug known to man, before.  And I knew that it was completely legal here in North Potomac.

Han asked Boris if he had any salvia with him, and Boris admitted he did.  In fact, he had 20x.  (Salvia comes in various extractions, the higher the extraction the stronger the effect.)  Han got extremely excited, not so much because he wanted to smoke it himself, but because he wanted to be completely sober while watching someone else using it.  He then spent the next half hour or so trying to convince Boris what a good idea it would be to let me and Joey try it.

Joey had no interest, and decided that it was time for him to skittle on home.  This left Boris, Han, and me.

I had some money with which to buy the salvia from my friend, so this wasn’t the issue.  The issue was his roommate, from whose slumber he did not wish to disturb.  After much discussion with Han, Boris finally came to the conclusion that it couldn’t be too bad, and sold me the salvia.

Boris then instructed me to make a playlist of songs from his computer to play while smoking, so that I will have something comforting to listen to when I return to a state of normality.

I chose about a dozen songs (perhaps less), although I cannot at this time recall what each of them were.  I know that my playlist included the following:

“This Is A Call” by Foo Fighters

“We Are The Champions” by Queen

“Sliver” by Nirvana

“Sober” by Tool

“Imagine” by John Lennon

“No Rain” by Blind Melon

Boris’s suggestion was excellent.  The music was very comforting when I returned to sanity.

At the same time I was constructing this playlist from among Boris’s songs, Han was telling me about how he hoped I was prepared for what I was about to experience.  “You have to understand,” he said, “for a few minutes you will not be yourself.”

Quite frankly, the things Han was saying were not in any way helpful.  If anything, they simply put my in a bad mind-set.

Finally, everything was ready.  The water-pipe had no residue from any illegal substances, and therefore was not legally paraphernalia in any way.  The pipe was filled with salvia, a substance completely legal in this state.  The music had begun playing, and I was sitting on a couch ready to enjoy this completely legal activity.

But Han wasn’t ready.  He still thought he needed to tell me stuff before I did this.  But the stuff he was telling me was still not helpful in any way, and was serving to weird-me-out more than anything else.  So, I got Boris to convince him to stop talking.

The first hit I take didn’t really enter my lungs right.  I coughed.

Then I went for a second hit.  This one actually met my lungs.

The effects were so immediate, I do not even recall exhaling!

We shall from here-on-out refer to this hit as the first real hit, since the “hit” that came before it was improperly managed, and likely provided no major impact upon me whatsoever.

The first real hit…I recall breathing in, feeling the slight burn on my lungs…

I recall noticing that the “taste” (smell?) of this plant was somewhat different from marijuana.

I do not, as I said, recall exhaling.  According to Boris, this was the biggest hit he had ever seen.  I can only think that it started acting upon me while I was still sucking in the smoke, and exhaled after that.  (I certainly must have exhaled, obviously.)

Immediately, I begin feeling as though I’m moving through…I don’t know.  Reality?  No, that’s a little too cliché.  It looked like swirling columns, with the one on the left going counter-clockwise and the one on the right going clockwise.  Everything I was seeing was part of these two columns.  I felt like I was either falling through existence of being pulled through it…sort of.

There was something uncomfortable about this—as though I couldn’t see around this “movement,” as though it was blocking me from seeing about me.  It certainly wasn’t clear.

Yet I could somehow detect that there was someone to the left of me and someone to the right of me.  That seemed about right.

So I tried to turn to the person to my left “for help.”

I ran into a little problem, however.  As I tried to turn, I began moving through this swirling column-like vision, sort of merging with it, becoming part of the movement.

Worse yet, I wasn’t really accomplishing the turn.

Imagine you’re climbing a wall to get to a plateau.  But as soon as you reach the plateau, you see another wall you have to climb.  You climb it and reach the plateau, just to find yet another wall.  Eventually, you start to get desperate, realising that no matter how many walls you climb, you will never escape.

That’s how I felt with this action.  I could not escape the action.  I tried to turn left, just to discover that I had already made that slight turn, and now must do it again.  Every time this action repeated itself, I felt like I had acted a little bit more than I had the previous time—but nevertheless, I still wasn’t getting anywhere!  Why not?  Because I realised, or felt that I realised, that this action still repeats, forever and ever, without me every reaching the destination!  What is the destination?  Grabbing my friend’s arm for help—or whosever arm was next to me.  (I do not know if I knew the person to my left was Boris—or if I even knew it was a friend—or if I even was sure it was a person!)

Look at it this way.  You have a five-meter rope laid out on the floor.  You stand at one end of the rope.  You walk half-way.  Now you walk half the distance that is left, bringing you to three quarters of the way.  Now you walk half the distance that is left, bringing you seven-eighths of the way.  No matter how many times you walk half the distance, you never reach the destination.

It is in that (sort of) way I felt that no matter how many times I repeated the action of trying to turn left, and no matter how much more I accomplished each time (which was never much anyway), I never actually reach my friend’s arm.  I may make wider and wider swings each time, but each time the arm remains outside of my grasp.

At this point, I’m pretty sure I forgot who was to my left, because at this point I did not recall my life.  I started to question whether or not this was existence: this continuous act of trying to reach left.

“Maybe this is what being an object is like.”

“Maybe I am an object.”

Had I proceeded with this line of thought, I would have next thought, “Perhaps I am the action of turning left!”

I would have thought of myself as that part of the action which takes place prior to the actual grab.  I would have thought I was a Platonic form, but probably without any memory or clue who came up with the concept (i.e. Plato).

But I didn’t go down that line of thought.  Or, if I did, I don’t recall doing so clearly enough to say definitively that I did.

I do know I went ahead to ponder, “Maybe this is existence.”

“Maybe this has always been my existence, and always will be my existence.”

Maybe I was trapped in this act of trying to turn left forever without success, trapped, forever, over and over, no avail…

I could not remember anything prior to the attempt to turn left.  I had no concept of “George Bookman,” no recollection of even having had a life of any sort, let alone what experiences said life would contain.  I was born a leftward turn, and would forever be that.

I tried to cry out.  Maybe the word I was searching for was “help!”  I couldn’t get any coherent words to come to me.  I did eventually yell something out.

According to my friends, who told me what I did later, I yelled “Time!”

Sort of makes sense.  Time ought to be moving forward, not staying in this same moment over and over forever and never.  Time wasn’t working, and that was in the very least annoying me.

I wasn’t sure what I had yelled, nor was I absolutely sure that I had accomplished yelling.  Part of me thinks that I had thought it went unaccomplished, while another part of me seems to remember accomplishing the yell.  And that “memory” (if it actually is one) tells me that the scream came out sort of like Neo’s scream when he first left the Matrix in the 1999 film The Matrix.  More precisely, I seem to remember it sounding digital and distorted—but don’t take my word on that.

Whatever I yelled, I know it didn’t solve the problem.  I was still trapped, and was dealing with this reality, this never-ending, never-changing movement.  So I exasperatedly cried out again, in defeat.  This was either intended to be whatever I said previously (i.e. “Time!”), or “help!” (again), or whatever else would make sense or at least help me cope with my existence.  I was resigning to just go along with my existence (for what choice did I have), but something was gnawing at me.

Why left?  I have two columns here.  Could I have turned right, or was I predestined to turn left?  Did I turn left through my own volition, or was that my only choice?  What if I tried now to turn right?

Around this time, the swirl of reality was slowing down, and I was starting to recognise what was around me.  It was Boris’s glass table I was looking through.  But what a strange angle.  Was I under the table or something?  Why do I see its legs going in that direction?  What direction is that?

I discovered that I was laying on top of the glass table, looking down through it.  Apparently I had knocked some of the videogame consoles on the floor, and had yelled “Time!” there on the table.  (I was told this later.)

I got up, and walked to Han.

“Just fifteen minutes, right?” I asked him.

I had heard that the effects of salvia last for about fifteen minutes.  Why I was asking Han this, I know not, other than to be comforted by the confirmation that this indeed would not last forever.  I realised at that point who Han and Boris were (more or less), and knew who I was (more or less).  I also knew, after brief thought, that I was right: the effects of this drug will not last forever.

One may recall from my entry on the sixth of May that on the night before, I had had my first bad experience with marijuana.  My experience that night had felt bad because I had felt some sort of guilt for putting my mind in such an abnormal state.  I had felt like there was something almost nihilistic about the usage, and that I was somehow letting my Mom and Dad down.  Absurdly irrational thoughts, obviously.

Nevertheless, those thoughts returned this morning around the time I asked Han this “ever-important” question.  It may have been in part what made me ask.

Although I was coming back to reality, my mind was still flipping over and over.  I kept briefly re-entering this state of disassociation.

Han told me, “It’s cool.  Lie down.  Lie down.”

I apologised to him (although I have no clue why), and did as he requested.

As I was lying there on the carpet, I was again experiencing this lapsing.  Each time I lapsed, it felt like I was flipping through some sort of tunnel—almost rhythmically.

Indeed, it was rhythmic, because it was happening to the tune of “Sober.”

I had not even realised “Sober” was playing (and would not have realised it had Han not commented that it was the perfect music for this experience), as the song meshed perfectly with my weird reality…as though it was part of the tunnel-reality-experience-thing.  I could not distinguish them, and as I just mentioned, did not even recognise the soundtrack to me experience as being anything other than part of the experience until it was noted by Han.

As this reality kept rolling and thumping, I eventually found myself rolling on the floor, head-first into one of Boris’s posters.  Fearing I might damage something while only half conscious of actual reality, I decide to make my way to the couch.

As I do, I see Boris leaning over the glass table.  He seems to have been there for a really long time, really abnormally long.  I have no clue what he’s been doing, but as I pass him to crawl onto the couch, I place my hand upon his back.  I don’t know why, but I think it’s because I wanted to have some sort of physical contact with another human being.  Maybe it was to see if I could(?).

I fall onto the couch, where I decide to stay so as not to cause any trouble for anyone.  Can’t break anything if I’m on the couch, and I know that no matter how much I role back into disassociation, I’m someplace safe.

Boris and Han leave me alone and talk to one another.  I’m not really listening to them, or concentrating on anything, other than my experience that night.  Two of three times, Han looks over to me and asks how I’m doing.  I don’t want to really speak, so I give him a little wave.  Han finds the experience intriguing.

I’m holding onto the pillows, dazing a bit.  I get the strong feeling like I don’t really know either of them, and therefore do not want to do anything that would give them a bad impression of me.  (I’ve actually known both of them for a few years now.)  Eventually, I back in reality enough to hold a sensible conversation, and I ask them what happened.

I find it absolutely hilarious when I discover that “Time!” is what I’ve yelled.  The second thing I’ve yelled, I’m told, was not an actual word of any sort.  More just an “Ahh!”  I’m not surprised.

Apparently, after I took what appeared to Boris to be the biggest hit he’s ever seen, I was about to take another.  I didn’t actually take the other, and instead ended up spilling the water from the pipe.  (I guess that’s why Boris was at his table for so long: cleaning up.)  I was apparently on the table when I yelled “Time!” and had my hands or arms strung through the Nintendo wires and whatnot.

Also, I apparently actually did grab Boris’s arm.  He described this as a “death grip.”

Around this time we notice that the playlist has already stopped.  I explain to them as much as I can (given my state at the moment) about my experience, holding some level of confidence that it wasn’t making a bit of sense.  However, Boris tells me that what I’m saying actually does make sense to him.  It is the best description he’s ever heard for what he himself experienced.

Han had to go, as it was already getting light out.  Boris and I continue to talk, and Boris then uses a near-perfect word: “patterns.”  The events felt like patterns.

I think the description I have given in this entry does a better job of explaining the experience than I could have given verbally.

We both find it amazing that an experience like this can be derived from a 20x extraction.  Extractions can go much higher than that.  As I said to Boris as the sun was rising, “I don’t know how the experience could get any more powerful than that.”

Boris let me sleep on his couch, as I knew I was in no state to drive or operate heavy machinery.  Although an hour had gone by, and although the lapses were at this point really weak, I was not taking any chances.

I slept until around noon today.

My dreams involved more lapsing, to the point where I wasn’t even aware I was asleep.  But then, I’m rarely aware that I’m asleep when I sleep, so that’s probably irrelevant.  When I awoke, I was no longer lapsing at all.  Nevertheless, I waited around to make sure I wasn’t in the least bit drowsy before driving off to my apartment.

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