I’m stretched out on the roof of Andy’s building when I’m jolted back to consciousness by the sound of my name.
“Amanda…hey, Amanda! Come down now. Let’s go home…it’s morning!” Ryan is calling me from the porch below.
I unwrap the blanket that has been my cocoon for the last few hours. The sunlight is burning holes in my corneas. I am surrounded by whiteness. I feel my way toward the edge and then jump down to the porch.
“I can’t believe you were up there so long. How did you get up there?” He’s amazingly cheery for someone who hasn’t slept a wink.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, “ I mumble. I realize that I feel like shit. “My head is killing me.”
He hands me a bottle of water and then rummages through my bag–he’s been holding it–for a pair of sunglasses, waving an astoundingly dirty pair in triumph. He carefully places them on my face. I gulp down the water greedily.
He leads me down the stairs and out to the street. I swear I’m sleepwalking. He’s holding a conversation with himself. “So, yeah, I’m thinking we can go home and take showers and then maybe I can make you breakfast? Yes, that’s definitely what I’m going to do. First I’m going to go out and buy you a mango, because I know they are your favorite….”
“Ryan, I think I have to go to bed, at least for a while.” I’m thrilled to see him animated, because lately he is typically semi-catatonic from purloined painkillers. But at the same time, I know we’ve both been up all night. His exuberance is creepy.
We finally get to the car. I swear we’ve been walking for miles. Before he unlocks the passenger door, he grabs my hands.
“You are so beautiful, even with smeary makeup and no sleep. I love you more than words can describe.”
I can only shrug my shoulders. I’m too tired for romance. He decides this is an invitation to hug me.
Finally in the car, I block out his endless chatter while trying to focus my energy on piecing together the events from the night before.
Ryan flies through my apartment door. “Guess what? The most amazing thing happened to me today?”
I’m hoping that he was offered a free trip to rehab or a job with health insurance or maybe even–these are desperate times after all–he has found religion.
“I bought an entire sheet of acid. Like, easily 50 hits. Maybe even 75!”
I try to smile enthusiastically.
“Amanda, I know you love psychedelics!”
I hesitate. “Well, I mean, yeah….but I’m not using drugs or alcohol any more, remember?”
He laughs. “This isn’t a hard drug. C’mon…I bought this for you! For us! And our friends, you know?”
I don’t agree. But I don’t disagree, either.
An hour later we over at his new friend Adam’s house. Everyone is extra-excited about the acid. Wallets emerge from pockets and five-dollar bills are passed to Ryan.
“Listen, everyone,” he says gravely,”I only ask that we do not let Thom take any of this acid, because he will ruin the trip for us. There’s a chance he might show up here later, so don’t say anything to him.”
Heads are nodding. We all place a dose under our tongues. I wash mine down with some water.
And then the waiting begins. I’m bored, so I wander into the kitchen to wash Adam’s millions of dirty dishes. This kind of thing could drive me crazy later. Thirty minutes pass. Murmurs of “I’m starting to feel it” waft in from the living room.
I feel nothing. Andy is drying the dishes for me. I whisper in his ear. “Is something wrong with me? This has never happened to me before.” I’m secretly concerned that this is some sort of surprise consequence of previous hard drug abuse.
He walks back into the living room. “Ryan, Ryan…I think Amanda needs another dose. She took a faulty one or something.”
Ryan appears in the kitchen. The look of concern on his face seems more appropriate for a bloody car wreck .
We spend the next five minutes discussing the issue. Should I take another? Or not? Yes? No? Maybe?
Andy adds a “yes” vote. I stand over the sink as I jam the tiny piece of paper under my tongue. And the moment I feel it scrape against my taste buds, I see patterns dancing across the dirty walls. Oh fuck. I am really in for it.
I turn to Ryan. “Um, I just started to feel the first one.”
He pats me on the shoulder reassuringly. “It will be fine. You are with friends.”
Thom appears a few minutes later. He attempts to engage everyone in conversation. He receives only strange stares in response.
He walks over to me. “Hey, what’s up, Amanda?”
I just smile at him. I remind myself that everything is top secret.
He tries again. “So, do you know what the plan is tonight?”
I search through my mind. Plan. Plan. What does “plan” mean? Oh yeah. “We’re going to a party, somewhere on North Avenue.”
“Oh, cool…yeah, I guess I knew that.” He is nodding his head while he says this, which seems to have this hypnotic effect.
“So when do you think we are going?”
I have no idea what time it is. “I don’t know. You should ask the others.”
Then I realize that holding a conversation with him is imperative if we are going to keep this secret. All of the responsibility is falling on me.
I try to open my eyes a little bit wider. I search through my mind for interesting conversation topics. “Do you ever think that Adam’s bathroom is filled with some weird energy?”
His face is a question mark. “Huh?”
“Well, I mean…I’ve had to pee for a while, but I’m afraid to go in there, because I might not come back out. When I open the door again, I might be somewhere else, you know?”
He is thinking. I’m hoping that he will offer to come in the bathroom with me, so I won’t get lost. And then a light bulb appears above his head. “Jesus Christ, you’re all on drugs, aren’t you? Are you guys tripping?”
I don’t say anything. It’s best to keep my lips sealed.
He walks into the living room. “Ryan? Adam? Andy? You guys are tripping, aren’t you?”
Everyone responds with vague head-shaking.
“What the fuck? All of you are assholes…except for Amanda. Jesus.”
Ryan is apologizing. And then he reluctantly offers a dose to Thom.
Thom accepts it begrudgingly. And then he says, “Ryan, I think Amanda needs you to go in the bathroom with her because she’s a little freaked out by it.”
I run over and hug Thom. “You are my hero.”
And then somehow we are at a party. I don’t know if we drove or walked or even rode bikes. Just suddenly, we are there.
I’m dancing in the living room because there is–shockingly–a guy spinning hip hop records. Usually these parties consist of shitty dance music or someone’s “Greatest Pavement Songs Ever” megamix. Someone hands me a bottle of wine to hold. I drink some of it because I’m thirsty
Thirty minutes later, I feel so aware of the earth’s rotation, that I have to leave the room. I wander into the kitchen, where all of my friends are hanging out.
Cheryl has magically appeared. I guess I probably called her earlier to fill her on the details. I sit down next to her. “Listen, I feel really weird.”
She laughs. “Did you drink that whole bottle of wine yourself? Because that might be a clue.”
I shake the bottle in my hand. It is completely empty. And now that I think back, I’m pretty sure it was full when I first received it. This is not good.
“Oh wow…I shouldn’t have drank that.”
She laughs some more. “Yeah, I agree…you should have shared it with your good friend Cheryl.”
I think I’m laughing when I say, “Well, the thing is, I also took two hits of acid earlier.”
Her eyes widen. “Oh, jesus…that’s why all of you are acting like a bunch of fucking weirdoes.” Sympathy transforms her face. “Oh, no…and now you are drunk and tripping? How do you feel?”
I try to focus my mind. How do I feel? “Well, I’m dizzy, I think. And really, really confused. LIke where is the bathroom here? Is there a bathroom?”
She points at the door next to us. “Right there. Do you want me to come in with you?”
I consider this. “No, I get pee shy.”
More laughter from her. “Listen, if you don’t come out in five minutes, I’m going to come in to get you. So don’t lock the door.”
The bathroom tile is mesmerizing. I sit on the floor to get a closer look. The floor is filled with secret messages and really, I’m about one second away from cracking the code. And then the door opens.
“Amanda…it’s been like ten minutes. “
I look up. Cheryl is in the door way. “Um, I didn’t pee yet.”
She comes in and closes the door. “I promise I won’t watch. And I’ll hum the whole time so I can’t hear you.”
I smile gratefully. “I think I’m going to need help with this drawstring on my skirt.”
(to be continued tomorrow…this is turning into a long story…xoxo)