At age 17, I was devastated to have been rejected by the Bali Art Project and determined I would work as hard as possible and travel to Indonesia by myself. When the friends who had gotten into the project were abroad, there was a party with basically everyone else I knew. They said I couldn’t come to the party if I didn’t do acid. I stopped by with the intention of dropping off a mix CD for a crush who was graduating, as this would be my last chance to see her. Naturally, I felt unwelcome. Waiting for her to arrive I was served tea, which Chris B. had sweetened with 2-cubes of LSD-infused sugar. I had what one might call a “bad trip.”
Looking in the mirror, I noticed that I was a deer. I was something amorphous. I wasn’t real. I didn’t have a self. Whatever there was was bad: all existence. Everything and everyone had dissolved into an unevenly distributed field of malevolent intention.
I found my best friend, Kristen, to be an exception. She wasn’t evil. She was chaotic neutral. When she (drugged out) asked how I (drugged out) felt I said: “Meddle in the middle of a nettle meadow.”
Morgan came to the party with a synthesizer. I gave her the mix I made. I found refuge in her synth, not that I had ever used one, or knew how to use one. “Music is the only thing that makes sense” I said (repeatedly) and went into the synth for a few hours, until I felt capable of riding my bike home at 5am.
As I pedaled the sun rose, and those were the same thing. Everything was one thing and perfect and bad and good. “Chains-and-brain-cycles-bicycles, music myself a melody, meddle-in-the-middle-of-a-nettle-meadow…” I thought to myself. The perfection of my rounded leg-patterns was so soft and nothing. I reached my arms up and giggled hard over a unilateral field of everything that there has ever been. Red and blue.
5:30-6:00 I slept, all gleaming in the bed someone made.
6:00 o clock dad woke me up, time to build cabinets for a jewelry store on the plaza with a violent nail-gun. Every huge sound brought me closer to the idea of pastries, which we had, at 10:00, when we were done. I was so thankful for sweetness and something to hold onto.
I got to the last day of my gardening job at the St. Francis Hotel late. No one noticed. I poured illuminated purple water onto the plants from the center of my headache. From a second story window, I spotted my former bestie Serrana (she was the one who broke up with me), preparing for her shift at Atomic Cafe. I waved to her and she asked how I was, I said “I am bad!” Smiling. I whispered that I was on acid but she didn’t hear me, because I was whispering.
My boss told me I had done an amazing job, asked if I wanted to come back next summer. “Maybe!” I said “I am going to be in Indonesia most of next summer though!” We shook hands, his hands were calloused.
In retrospect, I was a white teen who had responded to a spanish craigslist posting for manual labor at a hotel, and everyone found this charming. I just thought I was clever for getting a job through knowing some Spanish and writing a cover letter expressing my knowledge of, and interest in gardening.
I was walking down West St. Francis, planning to nap before my third job of the day, when my dad drove by and picked me up. I had forgotten? Had he planned to pick me up? He didn’t drive us home. I tried to say anything. We went to those government buildings and walked through some hallways. Then we got to a space with fluorescent lighting and he got the paperwork we needed to tell everyone that I have never been inoculated, so it would be up to the rest of the population to protect me from smallpox, etc.
In the distracted way that dad and I wandered around the booths at high school registration we ended up avoiding some field trip fees, and later I recalled this, while on field trips. “Good thing I was slipped acid” I thought “we saved like $30.”
By the time registration was over and we had driven the 25 minutes back home it was time for me to change into my uniform and ride my bike back uphill on West San Fransico, to my fine dining job at Amavi. I poured illuminated purple water into the crystal glasses of guests and wondered if liquids would appear this way from here on out. A food runner asked me what I had been up to:
I was pleased that I found the right word for the feeling I was having.
I rode my bike back downhill-home at midnight. My leaving-happiness was layered intricately with exhaustion, wrapped around a juicy, unreasonable work ethic. The cold late summer night let me be the starry sky, which was the same thing as the motion of my legs, and everything else.
I am glad I was stupid and had the best work ethic in the world for low-stakes and low-gains. Any amount of reason would have led me to stay in bed for the entire day. “I got food poisoning” say, or simply “I don’t feel well, I can’t come in today.” Even “I was slipped acid and am still on acid and I have not slept” would have sufficed. But instead I did my best through a challenging situation and know in myself that I am strong. Though I don’t actually have a self – I learned that day.