The First Time I Got High…

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[Illustration By ALEX FINE]

BY MATT WYNNE When I look back at the dozen or so years I spent on drugs, it occurs to me that the first time I got high didn’t have much of an impact on me. What little I do remember of the first time I smoked pot is that, while not exactly disappointing, it was nothing stellar or engaging, either. I remember chain smoking cigarettes, eating a box of Cheez-Its and listening to Nirvana’s cover of the Wipers’ “D-7” over and over again.  It wasn’t until I moved up the drug ladder a bit before my first-time became worth a story.

I dropped out of my public high school when I was 16. There were dim plans to attend this ‘specialized’ school for like-minded fuckups, and for the majority of the winter that year, I did little else besides live in my friend’s room and ingest anything we could get our hands on. I remember being convinced that there was some sort of answer in LSD. I don’t remember the question, but it seemed imperative that we keep up our investigation. Since we were temporary drop-outs, and didn’t have anything better to do, we would make each trip a planned ‘experience’. We borrowed the parlance from reading Tim Leary, Ram Dass and our hero Bill Burroughs. It was somewhere in the vicinity of New Years when we decided to ‘candy-flip’ for the first time. Candy-flipping involves mixing acid with ecstasy. The theory goes that because these drugs being neuro-chemical flat mates, they potentiate each other.

This was my first experience mixing the two drugs. I loved acid, and ecstasy was okay, even if the culture surrounding the drug was insufferable, and it tended to give me a false empathy that I couldn’t stand even while I was experiencing it. But hey, I loved to get high. We started in the morning, the singer and drummer from my band and me. I don’t remember where we got the idea from, but we bought helium balloons from the local party store, and a glow in the dark marker. We drew jack-o-lantern faces on the balloons and tied them at different heights around the room. When the ceiling fan was turned on and the lights off, these glowing faces would slowly bob and dance around the room. The effect is disconcerting. Ambiance was very important when you spend twelve hours doing little more than pacing a room and ranting. 

After getting the room decked out, we each ate two dark green windowpane hits that we had been hoarding for weeks. They looked like irregular squares of hardened jello, and came from the much-coveted batch our local dealer saved for his dilettante clientele. I used to love the 90-minute anticipatory period — like slowly creaking up the highest hill of the roller coaster. I remember listening to one of Flying Saucer Attack’s records that sounded like worms crawling out of the soil and thinking about things like simple organisms and their relationship to fecal matter and decomposition, when it occurred to me that I was rather intoxicated. It was always like that: increasing tension while I waited for it to begin and then this sudden realization that my radio has been de-tuned for a while and the show had already begun. At around the second hour, we took the hits of ecstasy. I remember the Mitsubishi logo was embossed on circular white pills. They taste like the worst medicine, and the trick is to suck on them for as long as you can stand, letting it get absorbed through your mucus membranes. 

I didn’t think it would be anything too special, but…holy fucking shit! Looking back now, after recovering from years of heroin addiction, this trip was probably the most out of my mind and on another planet I have ever been. Yup…it beats crack and dope. The ecstasy not only potentiated the hallucinations dramatically, it made it comfortable to keep going with them. I remember having a lot of conversations with people who were disappointed with taking acid, and trying to convince them that the drug itself is more like a catalyst, that it is up to you to run with the experience and make the hallucinations happen yourself. I am fully aware of how corny that sounds, but it is true. It’s your brain and you gotta learn how to play with it. The ecstasy was like a strong bass line that made it okay to run with the visuals far beyond where it used to be uncomfortable. I remember my friend’s head swelling up like a balloon and floating off his neck while my limbs elongated. The floor fell stories down, and the ceiling swooned. This should have been frightening, but the combination of drugs cushioned all the weirdness with a velveteen aloofness. I remember wishing I was dead, and that this is what it would be like. I didn’t — and still don’t —  believe in an afterlife, but the jut the thought of one was nice. Then the thought became obsessive. Being convinced you are a ghost, like really convinced, is too bizarre for words. Those convictions were a part of the experience as well. I remember my friend leaning up against the wall and refusing to move, because he was afraid his skin would peel off like glue. Every time he tried to move, he said he could feel his flesh pulling from his body. I saw this little crying baby face that kept popping in and out of my friends cheek. It would protrude, made up of the fabric of his face, then cry a little disturbing waaah and then receede. Quato lives, my friends. 

Most people, even drug people, have a hard time believing me when I describe very intense visual hallucinations. But, like I said… your brain is capable of quite a lot if you know how to fuck with it — it’s just a matter of letting go. By not interupting the hallucinations, they can go on and on and on. The peak of the trip occurred when we pulled out our nitrous canisters and inhaled a few balloons. Nitrous oxide at the peak of LSD is like throwing a match in your gas-tank. I remember the taste of the gas as it went into my lungs, and it felt like I was being filled with sea-life. The air in the room became gelatinous, and I remember grabbing at it and pulling like the room was imprinted on a tapestry fabric and I could tear at it. As the nitrous peaked in 30 or so seconds, but felt like much longer, these little blue floating stars filled the room. My favorite aspect of acid was the auditory hallucinations. I had so many tapes that I made on my shitty little four-track that combined weird ambient music with television commercials and that radio station with the religious nuts.The internal dialogue was running at full speed. It is so difficult to communicate and the fractured attempts at talking and laughing hysterically are kind of isolating. Eventually, you become convinced you are telepathic. And lots of other crap. It all lasted about twelve to fourteen hours. This all happened back when I was a teenager and drugs were fun. By the end of my high school years, I was on heroin and had a bad case of Eraserhead syndrome. It was like all the color was washed from my vision, and I had all the personality of a stick figure. Eventually, I would up rehab. I look back on those early experimentations with hallucinogens fondly now, but truth be told they really took their toll.  Take it from me, the drugs always win.

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