Showing posts with label frank discussions of adult subject matter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frank discussions of adult subject matter. Show all posts

birthday trip (part two)

Saturday morning, and the heat is a blanket smothering the house. One hundred and three degrees. I never got used to temperatures like this, not in twenty years of living with them. Heat this intense flattens me, deadens my senses. I kick off the duvet, feeling dried out and puffy, cringe when the bedroom's floor mirror confirms my self-assessment, and wander barefoot around the property until I find Timo working at a table in the front yard. The archival-quality drawing pad he'd given me last night is flipped open, covered with a carefully squared grid and neat handwriting in various colors. The pencil set has apparently inspired him; he's been brainstorming for his next project. He holds the page up to show me, proud of the artwork but sheepish about working while on vacation. I've never seen this visually creative side to him, and comment that he must get it from his architect father.

Though we'd planned on hiking, we quickly dismiss that idea. Why exhaust and probably sunburn ourselves? Fuck it. Instead we spend the first part of our day lounging, cooking, snacking, talking, and exploring the grounds around the house.

In the kitchen we eat thick slabs of watermelon and drink melon punch Italian soda. We move to the living room, sitting across from one another in my favorite of the house's chairs: tufted electric blue leather armchairs, low-backed, with just enough seat depth to curl up in. We sip coffee and look over the bookshelves beside us. I'm chatty from the caffeine, telling personal anecdotes that the bookshelf's contents have triggered in me. Timo leaves to shower, and my phone lights up. Mason.

How's Joshua Tree?

Content rich. T-minus five hours until launch...

Is Timo excited for the journey?

He's just babysitting. He got me all this colorful bright stuff to play with. Though I'll probably end up drooling on the hammock for 12 hours...

I send him a pic of my current view, and he says it looks like Alexander Shulgin's house.

I shower after Timo, trying to make peace with the cramped and ugly bathroom, knowing there's a decent chance I'll spend some miserable minutes in here later if I don't. I've been trying to make peace with the house all day, to be honest. Not let it psych me out, on a day when my psychic mindset is more important than anything. I'm feeling more optimistic than last night, but I'm still not 100% sure I even want to take the acid after all. The heat and the house are warning me not to, as insistently as they can. We'll see.

We spend some time apart, him emptying his brain onto crisp white paper, me poking around the outskirts of the property in search of photo ops. The heat is menacing, like an animal threatening to hurt me. It doesn't surprise me when a pair of hawks track me from above, the cries they exchange sounding contemptuous, and aimed at me. Just die, already, won't you? Just drop dead and let us pick at your bones. From the ground they don't even look large enough to be predatory. But then what do I know about birds of prey? The intensity of their squawking and the closeness with which they follow start to scare me, and I hurry back to the house. It takes all my willpower not to call out for Timo, like a child.

In the cool of the bedroom, I look over my camera roll. None of the selfies I've taken are any good. The landscape is dull, uninspiring; I look pink and mottled and try hard. Defeated, I sprawl on the blissfully white and cloud-like bed. I roll this way and then that, letting the cotton draw the warmth from my skin.

Timo joins me, lazily stretching out on his side. Again we go over what he should expect tonight, in terms of my behavior. What he should say if I fall into a loop, or forget that I've even taken a drug. My stomach is in knots, though I don't confess to him that I'm close to backing out. All this preparation and planning, how can I?

I check the time. Five o'clock. I'd been shooting for five thirty. Better text Pinkman, check in with him about dosage one more time. I retrieve the black plastic film canister I've been storing the acid in from my backpack. Slide out the tiny baggie containing the white, unmarked blotting paper. Take a photo of it, send a text, and wait. All this Timo watches with interest, murmuring "Oh, wow" when he sees the LSD for the first time.

Remind me. Each square is two hits?


How much do you usually take?

Couple squares.

Four hits. What I'd been planning myself.

Ok, cool. Thank you!

Have fun!

Timo and I look at one another. I feel like I'm at the gate in an international airline terminal, about to say goodbye for a very, very long time. About to get a rather special passport stamp, too.

"There's a decent chance it's expired, anyway," I announce, unsure if this outcome would disappoint or relieve me. "You're supposed to keep it at a constant temperature but it's just sat in my desk through the heat and the cold. Who knows."

Pressing my body against my boyfriend once more before lift-off, a sudden surge of reckless confidence finds me. Life is not for shallow-enders. I may not have the means to travel the world right now, but there are wondrous places of unimaginable beauty I can go, anyway.

I don't even need to pack.

birthday trip (part one)

Both of us are a little burned out, by the time we head to the desert. Ready for a break, anxious for a change of scenery.

We agree to take half an hour to vent and catch one another up on our respective work developments/dramas, then put the subject aside for the weekend. To kill some driving time, I read aloud from the School of Life's Book of Life - the chapter on relationships I'd dipped into days earlier. There's a series of interesting prompts I stumbled across in the "Artificial Conversations" section that I want to put to my boyfriend of eleven months, who is game, because we still love stuff like this. We still love playing games of questions, swapping stories about ourselves or our experiences that otherwise we might never disclose.

His answers are unsurprising, but I'm not in it for surprises anyway. Half the pleasure of listening to him speak at length on any subject is the measured, careful way he thinks things through. No exaggeration, no hyperbole. A willingness to back step when necessary, to correct himself. An ability to admit when he just doesn't know. A readiness to acknowledge and laugh at his shortcomings as much as tease me for mine. A keen sensitivity to even the slightest shifts of my mood, as dictated by his answers. He remains the clearest, most honest communicator I have ever been with.

We've gotten a later start than we'd wanted, so it's dark when we reach the gated property. Timo's roommate's car stirs up dust down a long driveway lined with white flowering bushes I spent most of my life around but still don't know the name of. I've come equipped with more baggage than the duffel bag and backpack into which I've stuffed my essentials: I've come, unavoidably, ready to judge this house, this weekend, and this experience against my last visit to Joshua Tree.

The home we've rented is quirky and close-feeling, packed with tchotchkes, dozens of funky, mismatched lamps, and provocative, if amateurish, art. Fruit flies pressed in thick acrylic frames. Salvaged carousel horses with chipped paint and toothy grimaces. Canvases that look distinctly DIY, with sloppy lettering and random imagery. Slanted windows intensify the claustrophobic vibes, and I feel a quiver of disappointment and a needle prick of fear: this probably isn't a good house for me to drop acid in.

Still, it is delightful to be away. We unpack.

When I'd told Timo I wanted to take LSD with me to Joshua Tree, he didn't exactly jump up and down with excitement. He'd been picturing something more along the lines of a romantic getaway than a stint babysitting his psychonaut of a girlfriend. But we talked, and I explained that it was really all I wanted for my birthday. That it was important to me. That it's the closest I come to a spiritual experience, ever, and that it feels like the equivalent of a year's worth of therapy. I didn't expect him to understand. I don't expect anyone to, really. I know how absurd it sounds.

But Timo being Timo, he understands. More than that, he embraces it. He looks online for information about how to best support someone tripping on acid. What to do, what to say, how to keep them safe and feeling positive during their experience. He puts together a "Life is Beautiful" care package, with colorful, sense-enhancing stuff for me to play with while I'm high. Glow sticks and light-up balloons. An oversized bubble-blowing wand. Art supplies. A glittery HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner to hang in the trees. Sparkly, tactile-minded toys to delight the child in me, during my very grown-up adventure.

I pull these things one by one from the gift bag, while the music we've brought spills out open doors and windows, into the endless desert night. Each item makes me more giddy than the last, until finally I run outside, my favorite of the balloons in hand. Timo follows, snapping into life a pair of glow bracelets. Between us we've got an armful of light in an otherwise dark yard.

Tomorrow afternoon this place will be a veritable wonderland to me, three-dimensional and alive and more beautiful than my altered consciousness can stand. But right now it's just a sprawling expanse of typical desert landscape, flat and dry and still-hot, even though the stars have displaced the sun.

The balloon pops after one or two playful bounces, so we turn our attention to the glow toys, videotaping them in slow motion and then time lapse, just to see the effects.

Back inside, I empty the bag's remaining contents, among them five or six rainbow-hued plastic leis. I scoop them up, laughing. "They were colorful," Timo explains unnecessarily, smiling happily at how much fun I'm having.

"So awesome," I say, also unnecessarily. And because it is a hundred degrees outside, and because I am marooned with my boyfriend on two acres of private land in the middle of the desert, on my birthday, I decide there is nothing for it but to take off my shirt and wear only these leis until we finally go to bed, whenever that may be. And once I've done that, we don't notice much other than the music filling the house, and the fact of our aloneness. And the smiles on our face change, then, from joy to something else. And for the next little while, I try in my way to give something back to the man I love, for all that he has given me tonight.


Later in the hammock, all the house lights shut off, we are still and quiet in one another's arms. The wind is delicious, and relentless. Rushing around the yard; scraping the house. Making eaves creak and tree limbs sway and wind chimes sing. Chills run the length of my body, not because I am cold, but because I am anticipating tomorrow. In fact I've not been able to think of much else since we arrived. I've been constantly calculating my environment, wondering what and when and how and how much. Is this crazy, crowded house going to freak me out? Where do I want to be, when it hits? Where will I go, if I get frightened? Should I even do it? What if it's bad again, but this time for longer? What if it's worse? 

And at the end of these fears, like a wishing well becoming still once more, is the calming truth: It will be worth it. The bad is bad, yes, but the good is a heaven like nothing you know, the other 364 days a year. And anyway, who wants to stay in the shallow end, all the time? Life is for living.

I snuggle deeper against Timo's chest and let the wind whisper its promises, its invitations. Come play with us, it says. Come see.

Melancholy settles over me, and I fantasize about the hammock freeing itself from where it hangs, carrying the two of us off into the black sky. A magic carpet with its own mind. What then? Timo would fight it, would want to come home to all that he has and all that he is here on earth - but me? Why not me? What would I miss? What and who would miss me? Not much and not many, I decide, but not bitterly. The freeness of my simple, small-scoped existence is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. I could disappear forever and only a few people's lives would be disrupted, and briefly at that.

But a few is better than none. And that's a warm thought to anchor oneself to, on a windy night like this.


I can't legitimately call my drug dealer a dealer anymore. But I guess now he can call me one.

When I met him, Pinkman (as he's listed in my contacts) was all business. The first time I made a purchase, he showed up at my apartment with a digital scale and a testing kit in his backpack. He breezed in, played with Chaucer for a minute, measured out my goods, and beat it as quickly as he'd come. I assumed he was off on an evening full of deliveries, a very special Santa for some very bad boys and girls.

But over time, I came to understand that he actually sold to very few people. Friends and their familiars only. I myself had squeezed onto the roster by way of a friend's cousin's old dealer. It was a tenuous connection at best, and by all rights I should have been dropped when that dealer retired. But I guess Pinkman deemed me harmless enough to keep in the loop when he took over.

Eventually, he stopped selling almost completely. He got a job. Then a second job. He moved in with his girlfriend to an adorable little house with walnut floors and a bright red door. I couldn't visit him without looking around, wondering which of the furnishings my cash had provided. When he'd text out of the blue, offering his wares, I'd joke to Terence about it. His girlfriend must need shoes or something. 'Text Ellie. I want to go shopping.'"

Pinkman's suppliers (of which he has a few) don't sell drugs in small batches. They maintain a minimum buy requirement, I assume, to cover their costs, minimize risk, and simplify the operation as much as possible. Makes sense. But because of this, and because the scope of his business grows ever smaller, those of us who buy, have to buy in bulk. It doesn't matter what the drug is - ecstasy, psilocybin, LSD...if I want it, I have to buy a lot of it.

Now, contrary to what these pages might seem to convey, I really don't do drugs that often. And many of the people I used to share my drugs with just aren't around as much as they used to be. So that leaves me with a dilemma: what the hell do I do with a few hundred dollars worth of something I only want $50 worth of?

Yep. You got it. But since I'm passing it along to friends, not strangers, I prefer to think of it as distribution, not sales.

Very few of you would have reason to know this (and for those who feel the need to pat themselves on the back for not knowing, go ahead, we'll wait - just take care not to knock the wine bottle over when you do so), but pressed tabs of ecstasy are exceedingly difficult to come by. Good ones, anyway. The closure of Silk Road and stricter regulation on the importing of precursor ingredients have really put a hurt on the market. Bottom line: if pressed pills become available, you jump.

Pinkman texted me last week, inviting me to jump. He's recently switched to communicating solely through a temporary messaging app. After a certain number of hours, all messages disappear, just like Snapchat. Poof. No proof. No trace. He opened, as always, with an alluring description of the product. The exotic name (all ecstasy tabs are identified by colors and recognizable brands, like "white Versaces" or "pink Pokeballs"). Its reputation. How limited his access to it, and how quickly his supplier's stash was like to sell. What's the minimum buy? I cut to the chase. He gave a number. It was large. Ooof, I thought. No way. But then I thought some more. I know people who were extremely impressed by Pinkman's last batch. People who've in fact made overtures to me about getting more for themselves. People with money to spend. Okay, I answered, doing some quick calculations in my head. Doable. Just gotta spread the goods a little bit.

And that is how I found myself driving, Pinkman in the passenger seat beside me, to the valley a few days ago, to purchase several hundred dollars worth of pressed ecstasy. During rush hour. Then driving back with him again immediately - still during rush hour. All told I spent nearly three hours in the car with my twenty-something drug dealer. This is my life. I recently turned forty. I'm unmarried and living with my ex-boyfriend and a dog named after a bawdy English poet. Sometimes I think I subconsciously steer myself into these absurd situations just to shock my parents back to life. If only.

Now you'll want to know what we talked about, because good grief. Well, what you'd figure. Music. Festivals. Drugs. But in between these topics we talked, in tiny doses, about ourselves. Always minding the boundary line of privacy. Always politely changing the subject when we sensed the other had veered uncomfortably close to The Personal. It's a delicate conversation dance, the one you do with your millennial drug dealer.

But here's where I have to interrupt the story and hark back to the first line of my post: Pinkman isn't really a dealer anymore. He's pared down so much, in fact, that in order to make a purchase for himself, he needs the supporting dollars of a spender such as me. And my spendy friends. That's where things stand at this point. I'm enabling his habit, not the other way around. It's not much of a habit, though, that's the thing. He rarely ever uses drugs anymore. He barely has time to, working two jobs and spending all his free time recording music. Not to mention, he doesn't have a car to go get them. When I asked how he normally obtains stuff from his suppliers in the valley, he explained he has to take the train to go buy it. "The Metrolink?!" I replied, shocked. "You have to take the Metrolink to the valley if you want drugs??"

"Ellie," he said to me, shaking his head. "I've done ecstasy once this year. Once. I just like to have some on hand in case an occasion comes up. But no one will sell me just three or four pills. And if they will, what they're selling is shit. If I want to get good stuff, I have to buy a lot."

And here I thought I was useless.


As long as the drive was, I didn't learn that much more about Pinkman than I already knew. Which is probably best for both of us. I did come to like him more, though - and I already liked him a lot. He's a terrifically sweet kid, warmhearted with a great sense of humor. And as dumb as it sounds proclaiming trust for a criminal: I trust him. I knew from how he spoke to me when I was tripping on LSD that he was good people. I knew from his reaction to my elation, and from his agreement afterward that LSD is life-changing, that we'd always get one another. We talked at length about acid during the ride to the valley. He knows I'm keen to try it again; it's the one thing I bug him about. But the other day he made me understand why he's been unable to get it for me: he's unwilling to buy LSD from shady, unfamiliar sources, because he knows firsthand how terrifying a bad trip resulting from a poor product can be. He assured me he knows how important it is to me, to experience acid at least once more, but that he'd rather I go without than go with something bad. "I know who to buy from. I know some real hippies, and they always try their stuff first. When they have it, when I see them again, I'll get you some. I promise. I know you want it. I got you covered."


He messaged me about an hour after I dropped him off. It was his one night off from work, and I guess he decided to take it upon himself to test our purchase and report to me the results. The exchange we had was delightfully ridiculous, in the way that sober person-to-high person exchanges always are.

Took one half 35 mins ago...super empathetic also drinking wine lol

Yeah?? So you like em? Thumbs up?

Yes.. I ate a quarter twice in 90 mins. Feelin good


(fifteen minutes later)


Hahaha. Enjoy. You're the best for keeping me in the circle. :) Can't wait to try em.


Lol I wanna do acid with you you some day

Yessss and go to natural history museum?

OMG yes. 

Ive never been but I love dinosaurs

Dinosaurs *are* pretty bomb.

Do u smoke weed. I sell these prehistoric weed pokers (sends a pic of hilarious/absurd thing I have never seen, something between a skull and a bong)

Yeah when others have it, I just never get it myself

(fifteen minutes later)

Have I sent u my tunes

No! You keep promising to but you never do!

And then he sent a link to his Soundcloud. And I melted a little bit (or should I say dissolved?), because I knew, then, exactly where he was emotionally. A place of utter love for the whole world. Openness of heart and spirit. Vulnerability fortified by the purest optimism. He was in the place I know well, from which I usually fire secret texts to all my best friends, crouched in the bathroom stalls of throbbing night clubs. I love you, I type feverishly, pulsing with gratitude for what I have. I miss you.

And they do the same.

They don't call it ecstasy for nothin'.

Pinkman had been promising to share his music with me for years. It was always him who brought it up, and him who balked, I guess, when he came to his senses and recognized the need for boundaries. But the other day that particular boundary came gently down, lost to the waves of a serotonin flush. And in one fell click I knew Pinkman's last name. But much more interesting than that, I knew his soul. I hit play and a smile cracked my face instantly. It wasn't what I expected; it was much better. I clicked another link and listened, and then another. And then I found myself watching his familiar crooked smile in some years-old homemade video the youthful earnestness of which nearly broke my old, jaded heart. And then I stopped. I closed out the window on my browser. I couldn't erase his newly-learned last name from my memory but I could at least stop looking at it.

Things shared in a delicate moment deserve to be handled delicately.


Today he told me he'd found me some LSD. Awesome stuff, from a reliable source. I had to tell him I can't do it right now. I simply cannot justify another huge purchase so soon. I have the money, that's not the issue - but I couldn't look at myself in the mirror, dropping more money on drugs within days of my last buy. Even if it's acid. Even if I'm desperate to get back in touch with the things it showed me last time. Even I could really, really use a dose of that clarity and peace right now.

I'm wiped out, I said. I wish. If it's around in a few weeks, I'd love to. But I know how it goes. I know you can't reserve for me like that. I know it's now or never. 

I got you, he messaged back. It's cool. I know you don't want much. I'll get it for you. It'll be here.

Friends show up in the funniest places sometimes.