My skin is sparkling, I have just realized. Tiny flecks of coruscating color: pinks and silvers, blue-whites and white-blues. I'm laying on my back, holding my right arm skyward, looking down (up) the length of my bare wrist. High above me are the treetops of the small olive grove where Timo has helped me set up camp on a twin-sized mattress we carried out from the house. The sheet on the mattress is a repeating vine-and-leaf pattern, the greens and golds of which perfectly match the greens and golds of the olive grove. Just a coincidence. Just a delightful coincidence.

I let my eye move slowly along the path of my skin, drinking in the supernatural flashes of color. This is the acid taking hold, I know. In my mind, I will it forward. I open myself up to it and dare it to do its worst. Right now, during the preamble, I'm unafraid, hungry for the unimaginable joys it holds. Slowly, slowly, I absorb the realization, as my body absorbs the chemical. And as reach my palm, I let my fingers uncurl towards the sunny canopy above. And oh my god, here it is. My fingers stretch out and reveal themselves to be thirty feet long, capable of touching the tips of the trees.

Laughter and wonder.

Timo’s face appears over me. He's come down from the porch (where he's set up his own camp) to check on me. His features are slightly distorted, but it's nothing frightening. I've only taken one hit this time, about a third of my usual dose. This is just a gentle ride through the stratosphere. I doubt I'll get much further up than the outer edges of the cosmos. I certainly won't be diving into any psychological black holes today, that I can already tell, from how mellow the onset is. No rocket ride up. Just a smooth, slow, stardust-strewn launch.

"I'm fine," I assure him with a smile. "I'm great."

I stay in this space for what seems like hours, but will later prove to be only about half of one. At my request, Timo brings me things. I want colorful things. I want something pink. He brings me a toothbrush holder and a lipgloss. But both are manmade, and therefore ugly. "Take them away," I beg. He tries again but there are no pink flowers in the yard or the driveway of the house we've rented for the weekend. Instead he offers me a selection of small leaves, twigs, buds, and other bits of the landscape, chosen for brightness of color, or intricacy of shape. My favorite is a finger-sized bottlebrush-looking sprig, with tiny milky blue facets at the ends. The texture and color blow my mind, and I twirl it with fascination. Really, I don't need much more than this beauty.

For once, I am lucid enough to be able to self-assess, objectively. I'm definitely tripping, but I'm in control of my facilities. I can steer this thing, a little bit. On a visit to the bathroom (always slightly challenging on acid), I become suddenly aware of the music we've been playing, across two speakers (one at Timo's camp, one at mine). It's ODESZA. It's perfect. So perfect in fact, that I need it closer to me, louder. I pick up one of the speakers and hold it against my ear on my way into the house. When I have to set it down to actually pee, I realize this will never do. I can't be that far away from it, ever again. Back outside, I hand the speaker to Timo.

"Put this in my head," I say, because it's the best way to explain what I need. Timo, himself pretty high, blinks.

"Put me in this song," I clarify. And my boyfriend, acid trip babysitter extraordinaire, understands. He plugs headphones into his phone for me and I happily traipse back to my camp, eager to see how this new dimension of stimulation will unfold.


There is a reason I take LSD once or twice year. There is a reason I feel I actually *need* to, because it constitutes a sort of psychological reset. Put simply: I need to visit the wonderland. I need to remember that the world can be this beautiful. Months and months of getting saturated by all that is ugly in life. The sickening realities of politics and economics. The physical death of the earth. LSD pulls back a curtain and reveals another place, full of hope and wonder and possibility and heartbreaking beauty. It makes me believe that it's all worth it, that at the end of the day the universe holds purpose and meaning.

I lay and listen to the same song, over and over and over. "Late Night." I gaze up at olive branches and know peace. Laughter bubbles out of me. It's the color. I can't believe I ever thought there were just a few colors here, or that the landscape was drab. The geometry of the ground is captivating. Dropped olives the color of blackberries, fallen leaves like little gold coins. And above, shafts of yellow sunlight weave through blue sky. I'm gripped by how gorgeous it is, and float away on thoughts of love. I'm clear-headed enough to text several of my friends. (The colors on my phone are heaven itself.) To Mason I say

I'm tripping on acid right now and here is what it is

I cannot go much further in life without knowing I've done everything in my power to persuade you

It is so beautiful

You need to know

Everyone needs to know but especially you

I'm crying. Timo's face again. I try to explain. "It's so beautiful. And it's right here. I wish everyone could know. It's right here." He smiles and brushes his hand against my cheek and then lets me be alone in my reverie. He knows this is the breaking-through - the reset that I was looking for.

Loving, laughing messages come back from the friends I've texted, and they feel like stars falling on me. Sparks of light and love. The tears in my eyes only make everything more beautiful, splintering the scene a hundred-fold. A concept comes to me: a kaleidoscope. Wait, there must be...

Dizzy with anticipation I search for a kaleidoscope app in the App Store, vaguely wondering what Steve Jobs would have thought of this moment. I find one, and it's free, and within a minute I've got this:

....and about a dozen variations of it. Pics like these are probably the closest visual approximation I can get to of what Trip #4 was like. Very, very mild, but still pretty enough to make me cry. And now for The All-Important Disclaimer:

I write about LSD not to evangelize for it or condone its use. Because I cannot say emphatically enough: LSD can be utterly terrifying, absolute hell, and I would never want anyone to try acid who wasn't completely aware of the possibility of having a very scary time on it. (The latter part of this very trip, in fact, got a bit hairy as night came on.) I would never want anyone to try it who didn't feel that they had to, because the unsatisfied curiosity would otherwise be unbearable. That's how strongly I caution against its casual use. I write about LSD precisely because I know most people will never touch it - but are curious about it. I certainly was.