My house was the local hippie crash pad and I liked it that way. Conveniently located near the corner of 17th St. and Arapahoe in Boulder, it was close to campus, a quick hop to the downtown mall and two short blocks away from Liquor Mart. Whether you were headed out of town up the Canyon, or into town from wherever, my little green house was on the prime arterial route.
Local bands jammed there and the house was always a hub of creative activity and fun. Throughout the Deadhead year, which was measured not by calendar days and months but divided up in blocks of time marked by Fall, Spring and Summer Tour, my house was the place people stopped when coming off or going back on, the road.
Consequently, people left things there. Broken down tour busses, bags of weed, silkscreened t-shirts, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, discarded lovers…and I helped myself to the leftovers. Sometimes people left things not just by mistake or out of neglect, but on purpose too. Things that were meant to say “thanks for letting me crash here.” Bonus.
Such was the case – or so I thought – with the item I found atop my dresser one blue-skied Saturday morn.
It’d been a late night and when I awoke it looked like everyone had already cleared out and headed for the east coast. Being a bit groggy, and dreading a long day of catching up on my college coursework, I was pleased to find a little brown vial with what appeared to be just enough sparkly white powder to bring me out of my haze and get me ready for the day. Never one to shy away from party favors, I quickly snorted up the contents without hesitation. But as soon as the substance lit up my nose I realized it wasn’t blow – it was pure crystal LSD that was meant to become a bottle of liquid acid. Now I was certainly no stranger to the substance by the age of 20, but I had just made a potentially life-altering, padded cell type faux pas. Plus, I had ingested every last bit of my friend’s entire tour stash. Oops.
Tie-dye Rob walked in the door seconds later to find me stunned, gazing at the vial. As soon as our eyes met he knew exactly what was going on. Even though he'd never come across as the most caring or sympathetic guy in the world up to that point – he had left home as a young teen and had been living hand to mouth on the streets for years – he had a look of sheer terror and grave concern in his eyes. I mean he was obviously pissed I had ingested the stuff, but he was now clearly stricken and very worried about me. His wide eyes were locked intently on mine as he said, “Beth, do you know how much was in there? That was enough to make about 100 hits. Fuck! What are we gonna do?”
I was never that great at math, but I calculated pretty quickly that I'd just done enough acid to get a boatload of average-sized men pretty high.
I count what happened over the next few hours as one of the most interesting events of my life and perhaps one of best undocumented (until now) feats of mind-over-matter, mindfucking of the universe...of all time. Period.
I knew I was going to need some supplies. A pack or two of cigarettes, at least a case of malted beverages, and of course some very close friends nearby as tripping buddies, so I went about my business quickly and methodically.
First, we’d go down to Penny Lane for the smokes and then head around the corner for the beer. On the way, I told myself to hold on – to not let those first hallucinations start creeping in. It was my firm belief that once I let go at all, I’d never be able to pull back, so I grounded myself in the tasks at hand and asked my friends to speak only of everyday things. “Please don’t ask me how I’m doing or what’s going on in my head,” I remember saying.
We set off down the sidewalk and I focused just on the pavement ahead, enveloping myself in its unremarkable, linear quality. Not the emerald-leafed trees arching over us that had started rustling in the wind (despite the fact that it was a perfectly calm day.) Nor the dew-kissed, aromatic purple Irises poking out from the garden beds alongside every house we passed.
I just walked and looked straight ahead trying not to think about how in a matter of minutes my reality might be inescapably different for an indefinite amount of time. Maybe forever.
And suddenly there it was. An ordinary stick about ten yards ahead of me came alive in serpentine fashion and slithered into the shrubs. I told myself right then that was the first and only hallucination I would allow myself to indulge in. I ordered the synapses in my brain portal to just stop right there. Let me live with the snake. Let me live forever with twigs and sticks and logs turning into snakes – and let that be all of consequence I’d really see or have to deal with that day.
And it was.
My friends sat with me for hours waiting for the storm to come as I chain-smoked my cigs and sipped my brews and laughed and chattered away, but I was perfectly within my senses and extremely content. In fact, it was a very good day. I didn’t get any school work done. And to this day, every stick I see turns into a snake, but other than that, I’m fine.