Lena and Linda are on the run. They are camping out in state parks because the “pigs” are after them. But we see a lot of them, the boys and me. They stop by in the evening and listen to music with the rest of us. They seem to get along pretty well, which surprises me. Lena is the “butch” and Linda is the “fem.” Linda never seemed like the type to bow to authority and Lena is definitely in charge. Still, somehow they get along.
They are always offering everyone in the apartment free drugs. They provide all the grass. The boys drop acid everyday and everyone is always saying things like “don’t bring me down (usually to me) or “I’m flyin” or “I’m peaking” or “I’m crashing.” They don’t really act like they’re high. They just do the same things we all do. It’s summer so we go outside a lot. We go to the park and lay on the hill in the sun. We go to the water tower in the park and watch stars and other people. We sit at concerts in the park and it just seems like an ordinary summer day.
There’s an old amphitheater in the park. There is a stage at the bottom of a bowl shaped arena. The seats are built into the grassy slope as terraces. Rocks face each terrace and grass tops it. The amphitheater is invisible from the outside. Trees and an old wrought iron fence surround it. I never knew it was there until this summer. Now the gates are opened up and there are concerts there, and plays and festivals. They are all free. Whole little hippie families show up and sit around on blankets on the grass at the bottom of the bowl. The kids run nearly naked, long hair flying in the wind. Vendors sell jewelry and kites and imported tchothkes. Lots of smoking is going on, both legal and not.
I have never tried acid. In fact I have never tried any drugs except grass and hashish. These drugs sometimes make me high, but sometimes make me paranoid and sleepy. Lena thinks I should branch out. One day I try a black beauty. It doesn’t do a thing for me. Another day I try a half a barrel of sunshine acid. Whoa! That does something. The air around me seems thick and syrupy and the light appears layered, like looking through a piece of old, thick glass. My skin tingles, colors fragment, movements blur. When I wave my hands in the air I see afterimages. I’m not sure I like it. It makes my brain feel like it will explode, like I will go crazy and end up hospitalized mewling like a kitten until I’m old and gray. After a while I want my trip to end, but it doesn’t go away until the drug leaves your system, almost eight hours. Once in a while if you smoke really strong grass you feel like this, but it wears off quickly. This lasts and lasts. You can’t even really sleep through. It certainly is an economical high; you get a lot of bang for your buck. You don’t have to keep stopping to refuel. But it’s too risky. How do the guys do this everyday? Now I know what “trippy” means. I decide that I might give this one more try later, much later. One day someone talks me into trying a “blue dot”, which is just a piece of paper with a circular blue splash of chemical something on it. That’s milder, my head’s in a better place. I have a good trip. Still – not my drug of choice. I decide I will not drop acid again.
I’m tired. We’ve been partying a little too hearty. There has been a lot of beer and grass over the weekend. I have to get up and go to work but I’m dragging. Lena hands me a little yellow pill. “What’s this,” I say. “Its methedrine,” she says. “It will perk you right up.” It does. I have lots of energy now. I also feel smart and confident. I eat my day up and have energy to spare when I get home. This feeling I like. Lena gives me several more. She warns me that although they have these positive effects for a while, they will eventually let you down hard. When you crash, you will feel like shit for a few days.
I like this very efficient, clean feeling I suddenly have so I keep taking the little yellow pills. I start cleaning the apartment feverishly, I don’t need food, I can’t sit still and when I do I start drawing these very inventive pictures of tiny little mazes on every available sheet of paper. I may be turning into an artist. At work I feel like I’m a whiz. But eventually I find that my fingertips hurt when I have to type and that my mind cannot stay on one subject, and that I can’t look my boss in the eyes while he tries to explain a new project. Lena’s gone when I run out of pills. I crash. I miss a day of work. I lose my job. Apparently I wasn’t the whiz I thought I was. I still have my tutoring job in September, but right now I’m broke and I’m not happy about it. That’s the end of the methedrine. No matter how much I like it, it has to go. I have never been fired from a job before.
It’s almost August. Annie got into a state university and she’s leaving to go find a place to live in her new college town. The timing couldn’t be worse, but she’s doing the right thing. Lena and Linda tell me they are tired of camping out. They offer to move in and help with the rent temporarily. They want to stop dealing drugs. They are both thinking about college too. They do have a stockpile though and they need to get rid of that. I tell them they can’t live here if they are dealing drugs, but they know I’m a whuss. They plead with me. They say they will hide their stash outside the apartment in the basement and they will not sell out of the apartment. I have no rent money, and worse, I have no cigarettes. I relent and let them stay. They take the bedroom upstairs and I move to the mattress in the living room.
I decide to try another tab of sunshine. Maybe if I try one out in the country, in a beautiful natural setting, it will set me free. I hitchhike to a camp my family members have bought out in the back of beyond. I decide hitchhiking is not for me. Everyone who picks me up is a married man and everyone makes suggestions I am not interested in. I’m lucky, they don’t push it. They just let me out of the car. It takes six rides to get where I’m going. I let myself into this flyblown shack, which is my family’s, camp and try to make it pretty so I’ll see nice things when I’m tripping. I find a good radio station. I don’t really know why I’m doing this, to prove something to myself, I think.
I make myself a sandwich with the groceries I brought with me. I eat it standing, looking out the window across the long narrow lawn. There are no other camps around. A green lush wilderness lies beyond the lawn, a dirt road heading straight as an arrow through it. I drink some iced tea from a thermos. I go outside and set up one of those woven plastic chaise lounges that can be laid flat or adjusted for sitting. I put on my bathing suit, drop the tab of acid, and go out to the lounger. Whoosh! The acid hits and I’m tripping. I don’t like it any better this time. The sun is good, it’s really pretty out here, but I feel sick to my stomach. I get up and go inside and turn the music up. I’m OK. I somehow get hung up on a mirror. I’m seeing my face as if for the first time. I see my mother there, I see my father. I see my heredity written across my features, my bone structure. I don’t really like my face right now. I turn the mirror away. I use the outhouse and think about the past when everyone had one of these odorous contraptions. I think about how convenient our lives are. I am now shivering. I can’t stop. I’m not cold; I’m just overwhelmed with drugginess. I change back into my clothes.
The sun is setting. I watch it and shiver. It’s beautiful, but I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m so alone. I forget that that was the whole idea. Lena and Linda are coming to pick me up. It keeps me together. It’s dark now. I look out the window. I’m in an alien, wild place. I’m not a nature girl I guess. There are dwarves holding lanterns walking through the tall grass. Look at that! So many of them. I hear the car in the driveway. I can’t wait to get out of here. I turn everything off, grab my backpack and as I walk out the door, I realize that there are no dwarves. They are fireflies. I sleep all the way home and vow once again to never take acid. This time I stick to my vow.
Not working is not good for me. I don’t feel grounded. I’m nervous and I don’t know how to fill up my day. I can’t buy cigarettes regularly and I hate when I don’t have any. I actually pick up a long butt off the street one day. I think about who might have had it in their mouth before me, but I still fell calmer as soon as I have a couple of puffs. I’m a derelict. I tell myself that in one month I will be working again so I should just try to enjoy my freedom. I try to get a schedule going, have meals at regular times, do dishes and housework in the mornings and evenings. Read, if I happen to be alone in the afternoons. Lena and Linda don’t stay home much, but the boys are here a lot once they actually wake up and start their days.
Lena and Luke’s older brother, Lincoln, is at our apartment. He’s visiting from the west coast. He’s very handsome, blond and muscular. A man, really. I don’t know what he’s doing here. Why didn’t he go to his mom’s? Why don’t they all visit there? But he sits on a chair in my kitchen. I give him a cup of tea. We don’t have much to say to each other but Lena is happy and keeps the conversation humming along. Now I know why he’s here instead of home. There’s a packet of cocaine sitting on my kitchen table. He wants to share it with all of us. I don’t really want to try it. This is a serious drug. One you can get hooked on. I once met this couple who were jazz musicians. They were also heroin addicts. Every time they went into a methadone program, one would drop out and go back to heroin. Then the other one would join them. Back and forth they went. They were very much in love, terribly co-dependent, and totally miserable.
But I was curious and saying no did not seem worth the hassle. Link got out a mirror, spilled some coke on it and cut it into lines. He rolled a five-dollar bill into a tight straw and we each, in turn, snorted a line. Coke is also called ice because of the way it makes you feel. It reminded me of methedrine.
Thank goodness I did not want to do it again. I decided I was through with all drugs except, once in a while, pot. No more pills, no more acid, no more anything. I really liked my natural state the best. I was saved from a drug addiction, but I’m not sure how. It may have been just a matter of body chemistry. But I was still going along with my deal to let Lena and Linda sell the rest of their LSD.