It’s approximately 5:45pm on a Saturday evening, the sun is setting but not in a noticeable or memorable way. The clouds north of us are less like clouds, and more like a thick fog, swallowing the tops of skyscrapers and high rises.
We finally arrive, walk up three flights of stairs, there’s a familiar smell of stale cigarette smoke that always reminds me of motel vacations as a kid. Justin greets us, hurriedly but always calmly, such is his manner. The apartment is tidy, like it always is, candles are lit, like they never are.
Surprisingly, I’m neither excited or apprehensive, I feel nothing other than the fact that I’m ready and that I’ve waited for this. Now that I turn it in my mind more, maybe it’s not even that I’ve waited for this experience, just waited for a moment where I finally don’t feel either overly excited or overly apprehensive. The more I think about it now, the more profound that single thought is. Anyway, I digress.
I feel the tightness of my bra, the itchy waistband of my jumpsuit and consider changing. I consider the possibility that this will distract or disrupt my experience, kind of the way it always does on any other drug. Justin reassures me I’ll be fine, so I trust him. We all sit down and close our eyes for a 10 minute meditation, and I drift. I drift somewhere between thoughtful meditation and daydreaming or was it actual dreaming. Regardless, after 10 minutes have passed, I’m sleepy like I’ve been woken from a nap, so maybe it was, actual dreaming. I should probably just lie down in my somber state but my neuroses creep in and I have to pee. Unsure now, if I really had to pee or if I needed another minute alone to contemplate the gravity of this experience. It’s probably the former, but now I can’t stop trying to defend the latter.
I come out, Justin asks me “You’re going first right?”, it sounds juvenile and I’ll hate saying this, but it makes it sound like I’m on line for an amusement park ride. So I confirm, I’m going first and again I re-clarify with Justin — Should I be laying this way, or this way? Is this blanket necessary? Can we turn on the AC? Why is Jordan sitting so far away? Little things — get adjusted, readjusted, reclarified, then adjusted again.
Justin sits down next to me, explaining how to smoke the pipe correctly. I take the instructions, like a doctor to a patient, genuinely trying my best to follow exactly what he instructs. Breathe it into the chamber and exhale the air, breathe all of the smoke in the chamber into your lungs, hold it for ten seconds…
I hold, within a blink or two of an eye, I know I’m about to be somewhere else — Justin’s face and his surroundings take on a bold dark outline, and CMYK colors, like a comic or a Roy Lichtenstein. He tells me to breathe out and take another hit, but before then I know I’m already “there”
If I told you I could recount this story just as it happened I would be lying. Have you ever woke up from an extremely lucid dream and are so excited to tell someone about it because you remember, you swear, you remember every single detail? But the second you open your mouth, it falls apart like powdered sugar, still lingering, still sweet, but it’s just sweet dust.
Despite it being sugary residue on my fingers, this is my attempt at putting it back together, as something recognizable as an experience, for you.
So I take the second hit, or what I think is the second hit (as I will find out later, is maybe half of a second hit) and I lay back and apparently my eyes stay open the whole time, darting back and forth. On the other side of those darting eyeballs is the following.
When you take DMT I don’t think you’re ever prepared for how fast it moves. How obliteratingly fast it can progress. Before you’ve had a chance to store it, it’s gone. Nevertheless, eventually I fall into a scene I can recall — it’s hard to say what exactly it is because it isn’t anything describable. But eventually, there’s a voice or maybe a thought, but a thought that isn’t mine “Look, watch, and when you see it happen, you’ll know. You’ll know because you’re already doing it, and it will blow your mind. But don’t think about it too much, because you’ll fuck it up”. So, I’m not sure what this means, I’ll Know what? Be Doing what? Then it occurs to me that maybe they’re talking about drugs, like talking about that turning moment when you know you’re tripping balls, or you know you’re high as fuck, or the anticipation before a beat drops. And so, there’s a definitive “know” that I’m trying to discern, or someone is trying to explain to me. And in this world, I’m thinking, and thinking, and thinking through something — or at least something we can consider thinking though it was probably just a mash up of incoherent pictures.
Before I know it, my brain starts melting, because what I’m thinking becomes what I’m doing, and what I’m doing becomes unanswerable and before I know it I have a moment. A eureka, here we are, holy shit moment. The voice, or whatever it is, says again “See? Do you see it? … No no … you’re going too fast, slow down, go back… there. There it is again. You see it?” I don’t, so they try again, rewind the tape, and play it back, “See, there, and there again” all of a sudden a wave of understanding, awe, and bewilderment comes over me — I get a slower view, of a simple setting — I’m sitting in a coffee shop or some other mundane life setting, sun just coming through behind whomever I’m talking to, them smiling at me, “See, this, this is it. And it’s happening all of the time”
My brain just about explodes at this point. And if you don’t get it yet, maybe I am insane at this point. But I’m shown for the first time in my adult life, how fucking insane of a drug it is just to perceive — just to have consciousness of a moment, of time passing, of light coming through a window, at just the right angle so you can see the dust in the air, recognition of the colors of the wood table, and the wood paneling on the walls of the room, and the fact that none of the wood matches, that whoever picked the furniture did a really bad job. And in the moment I’m not understanding this as you are now. I’m understanding this at a complete subzero level, from the perspective of an alien, a fetus, an outsider, who has no idea what it means to have memory, recognition, or understanding.
The scene teleports again, in a dreamlike manner, and I’m in a blank room or something like a room — whatever it is, it’s bright and blinding and not much is happening. I look around thinking what’s supposed to be happening here? Am I supposed to be doing something? As quick as the question comes, that “voice” comes through again “Have you ever thought about thinking?” And there’s a rush of life’s moments, they’re not mine, but they’re human moments. A stroller being pushed down a sidewalk, people sitting at a park, clattering in a bar, passing street lights on a bike ride, picking up groceries, laughter, just people doing ordinary people things. The rush of moments is so fast, and it’s so bright, and so overwhelming that I want it to stop, or slow down, or be more manageable. The same voice comes through again and communicates to me though not with words “No, it just keeps going like this, always” and again my mind is blown for the second time and I can’t understand how this could possibly be. I realize now how much we perceive and process in a lifetime and never think twice about it. From opening your eyes and seeing morning light, getting up and brushing your teeth, making daily judgments on the street, to making “big” life decisions
The scene changes. And I’m talking to someone, or I was talking to someone, and they tell me “Don’t forget later to remind me of…” So I try to hold on to it and repeat “OK, I won’t forget later to remind…” Forget what? Remind what? Who are you? Wait. Who is… me? I begin to dig, like I’m flipping through files, fervently digging, and flipping, and trying to grasp onto something. There has to be something in here. Maybe something simple. Name? Personality? A single memory? I see a blur of letters trying to form something but come up with nothing. There’s a moment of panic, because this is something I should know. I should know who I am, right? Am I insane? Have I gone too far? But a reassuring force communicates to me that it’s okay, that it doesn’t matter. You should probably be alarmed at not knowing who you are, yet I’m at peace with it, and so, I move on waiting to see what else I’m supposed to be shown.
Floating around in this ‘world’, I start to experience a familiar obliterating quickness of sensations that I had at the beginning of my trip. My senses become overwhelmed with image, color, and movement and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing with this. Do I control it? Do I sit back and observe? I find myself frustrated trying to conform, frustrated at trying to remember what the protocol is, and more so — frustrated that there “is a protocol”.
Eventually things slow down a bit, allowing me to grasp onto just a little more of this experience. I feel shadows of energy on both sides of me and a circle appears in front of me with rippling shades of orange, green, and pink coming off the edges. It’s clear these energies are paying attention to me, they’re alert, though not quite concerned, and they’re trying to comfort me. The sensations coming off of the circle are overwhelming and I’m not sure how to handle it. The circle is open and the more I try to focus on it the wider and darker it gets, as it widens, a thick lava like substance begins to pour out through the bottom edge which sends a message to me saying “no, no, no, we don’t like that, stop stop stop” so I try to change the course of this circle, that is now acting like a shutter of a lens. I somehow achieve this redirection though I’m unsure how, and the circle closes and it feels like a hug, like a warm and all encompassing light, wrapping around me. But I find myself curious about what just happened and so I look again, and the circle reopens, darkens, and pours its dark lava out and I feel an unmistakable feeling of myself falling out of itself, which scares me. So I try to shift it back and I hear someone.
Someone? Or is it the voice again? The voice that feels like a thought, but isn’t mine? “Honey, just take a deep breath” I breathe in, though it’s unrecognizable as a breath, because I’ve forgotten what breathing is. And the circle tightens back up and it feels like the biggest hug a non-human moment can give you, light, goodness, beauty, and warmth fill the circle. And before I know it I can feel my hands on opposite arms, and I’m hugging myself. And I realize I have hands, and realize I have arms. So I’m half freaked out, half relieved, and in a semi panic I pull the blanket off of me, look down at my body and think “Oh my god I have a body” followed immediately by the thought “Whose body is this?”
And I start laughing, and I’m digging in those files again. I’m looking again because I swear to go there’s got to be something relevant in there. I don’t find anything, but I’m laughing, and I’m digging, trying to assume how I’m supposed to react in this moment. I truly have no idea how I’m statistically meant to react in this type of situation. I turn it over in my mind but come up with nothing, but I laugh, because it feels good to do something human and something in me tells me that this is what I would be doing.
“You’re at Justins” they say, and I tell myself I understand, but I don’t. I ask them to repeat it “Say that again, can you.. can you say that again” I don’t actually know what clarity I’m asking for here, but I know it feels good to hear voices that I know are actually voices, so I keep asking. I ask what time it is, how much time it’s been, they tell me “6:30” — Which makes me feel better though I don’t know why, but they’re laughing, because I’m laughing, and that makes me feel safe. I don’t know at this point how to tell them I can’t fully place them yet, or the fact I haven’t fully placed myself or what my name is. But I know I’m safe — so I keep on laughing, and I keep on smiling, because they have no idea that they’ve never really thought about thinking.