Britta, Katie, Rob and I loaded up the bus and set off on the long, dusty unpaved road that led back out to the highway. We were dirty, like stinking filthy coated in desert dust dirty. Our skin was browned from the desert sun, and everything we owned was coated in dust. Everything, including us, looked rusty. We let the wind blow our hair out the window, all of us in hysterics about the symphony going on among us. We had spent the entire week eating nothing but beans, and it was as if we were all having an actual conversation with our asses.
About 2 hours later, on the horizon, we saw the first glimpse of civilization. Our excitement was tangible as we oohed and ahhed over how amazing it was going to be to eat something besides beans or spirulina and take an actual shower! All of us were vegetarian except for Rob, we were starving and poor and we pulled into the McDonald’s drive-thru on two wheels. Fish fillets all around, quarter pounder for Rob. We ate as if we’d just been on Survivor for a month.
As we pulled into town, we saw a little motel and decided that no matter the cost, it was worth it. The prospect of sleeping on a mattress, freshly showered and moisturized was worth all the money in the world. Rob checked us in and we pulled around to our door. When we opened it, sweet, sweet air conditioning enveloped us. This could have been the biggest shit hole in the entire world, but to us, it was The Four Seasons. We flopped on the beds and I started phoning my family to let them know I was alive while Britta and Rob took showers. You would have thought they were in an orgasmatron from the noises coming from in there. Something went wrong with the phone, and when they were finished I asked them to call the manager to see if he could fix it.
As I stepped under the shower head, I watched the tub turn brown with the dirt that was running off my body. The hot water was nirvana, complete and utter nirvana. I could have spent a lifetime in there. I scrubbed to 3 shades lighter, and used half a bottle of conditioner in my dry, tumbleweed hair. I was so happy, I felt reborn!
Still in Rainbow mode, I opened the door and came skipping out into the room, completely naked, announcing how wonderful my shower had been when I froze mid-skip as I stared at the equally shocked motel manager who was sitting on the bed trying to fix the phone. It was one of those awkward moments where time not only stands still, but turns inside out, takes a nap, fixes it’s hair, changes it’s outfit and then sits down to take a look at what’s going on.
Britta and Rob were nervous laughing, the manager had a startled yet horny smile, and I just said, “whoops!” turned around, skipped back into the bathroom and tried to make myself disappear into thin air.
When I heard the door to the room close, and the hysterical belly laughter ensue, I went back into the room and laughed until I cried. Rob could barely breathe let alone speak, just kept laugh-saying, “you made that guy’s fucking year!” Apparently Rainbow mode was over.
From there, our plan was to travel out to the coast and tool around for a month, then start Dead tour. Rested and re-packed, we hit the road, due west.
From here on out, it is only fair to say that recalling the exact timeline of events is virtually impossible. Between the continuous marijuana, massive influx of LSD, and occasional romps with ecstasy, the next four months is a blur of thin cotton Indian print dresses, spinning in hallways, bare feet, ankles wrapped with bells that sang with each step, dreadlocked heads, Guatemalan drawstring pants, VW busses, hugs, sunsets, conga drums, and the ever-present melodies of The Grateful Dead which reigned supreme.
But I will do my best.
We crossed through Yosemite National Park on our way to the hippie Mecca, Berkley, California. The town was overflowing with hippies; we had never seen anything like this before. It was as if the 60’s had never ended, and we blended right into to the colorful, carefree landscape. “Hey kind Sister, can you spare a hug?” was not at all strange from a stranger. There was an unspoken kinship, a living, breathing community of which we were all a part. At it’s core was love. People befriended each other with ease. We met a few guys who had a house in town and told Britta, Katie, Rob and I that we were welcome to crash there while we were in town.
One evening, Rob had gotten his hands on some Ecstasy. This was back in the day before it was a chopped up designer club drug. This was MDMA in its purest form.
For those of you unfamiliar with the effects of Ecstasy, MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA acts by increasing the activity of three neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception. It starts to kick in after 30–60 minutes of consumption, hitting a peak at approximately 75–120 minutes, reaching a plateau that lasts about 3.5 hours.
That’s a very technical way of saying that you are fucking high as shit, nothing in the world feels better than a hug, and you have never felt so intensely in love with everything in your life. It was not the easiest drug to get a hold of at the time, but one that in spite of it’s cost; we pounced on anytime it came within our reach. LSD was a couple bucks, but usually free. It was everywhere and we did it regularly. Ecstasy was a big treat, at about 20 bucks a hit, and we’d usually buy two to piggyback when the first hit started to wear off.
Katie and Britta were off somewhere, and Rob and I headed down to Telegraph Avenue to get a bite to eat before we took the E. Rob and I were always like brother and sister, he is about 5 years older than me, thought he knew everything, I thought I knew everything, and we fought all the time. But, like brother and sister, we loved each other, and unquestionably had each others’ backs at all times. We were like excited little kids with that shit in our pocket. We went into a little pizza place, ate a few slices, and dropped our E. It was somewhere around 6pm.
We were walking down Telegraph, and it kicked in like a freight train going 100 miles an hour. I grabbed Rob’s arm and I remember him turning to look at me, a huge grin spread across his face. He could see the future in my saucer-sized pupils and he chuckled and said, “oh shit, hold on, here you go…”
I was high as shit. I mean, fucking flying. Remember, this coming from a girl who ate acid like it was bubble gum and was perpetually stoned. The world opened up, my pupils were apertures in the dark. Every pore in my body felt love. The world was a kaleidoscope. My permanent grin was bigger than California, bigger than the world, bigger than the universe. I was the universe. I was losing my physical being; I was melting into the world as I started to peaking at a staggering rate. Rob guided me down to sit on the curb, “breeeeeeaaathe. In with the good, out with the bad” he repeated over and over as he rubbed my back, realizing that he was going to be my babysitter for the evening.
As I write this, I am covered in goose bumps, and can feel a part of that high again, I bet my pupils are dilated right now.
It was a sherbet colored dusk as I floated back to my feet. Hippies can spot someone coming on too hard a mile away, and apparently, half of the people on Telegraph that evening did. They swooped in and knew exactly what to do, before I knew it, I was in the middle of a huge, lingering, and indescribably intense group hug. It could have been 5 people or 500, but it was the best feeling in the entire world. Right there on the sidewalk, in the center of this hug, I was safe and loved and I never wanted it to end. People were stroking my hair, “breathe sister, we love you!” Hippies can throw some crazy ass energy out when they want to. Somewhere in the far edge of my consciousness I heard them asking Rob how much I had taken, how long ago, etc. to make sure I was not OD-ing. Hippies are doctors, psycho pharmacologists that can cure everything with hugs, positive energy, shoulder massages, and marijuana.
At this point, maybe an hour had passed, maybe 3 years, I’m not quite sure. Rob was pretty fucking high as well, but I had no sense of anything because I was made of color and light and love and had left the world of time and spatial relationships a long time ago.
My voice sounded incredible when I spoke. It was beautiful, so beautiful that I started singing, right there, on the sidewalk, at the top of my lungs, Love the One You’re With by Crosby Stills Nash and Young. Guess what? Everybody started singing it, too. It was the most incredible thing ever, all these random people hugging and hand holding without a fucking care in the world except how good it felt to sing that song. I would grab Rob’s arm and squeeze, look through him with such intensity, breathing in and out as if I were in fucking labor, and take flight when we sang.
I think I made everyone sing it about 5 or 700 times, I was made of electricity and you could get high just looking at me. People kept holding on to me saying what an intense contact buzz they were getting. It’s true, if you’ve ever been around someone tripping that fucking hard, you can actually get high off of their insane energy.
I was vibrating, I was a current, holding someone’s hand could make you have an orgasm and I’m not even kidding, not in a sexual way, in a love way. If you’ve ever done E, you get it.
I think I clung to Rob all night and told him I loved him at least 500 times, almost crying with the emotion of it every time. I remember being on the front porch of the house we were staying at, begging Rob to sing Love the One You’re With for the thousandth time with me. He was such a good sport. When we sang that song, everything was right with the world, it was perfection and I can still feel the depth of that memory.
Hours had passed, it was all a blur of love and intensity and movement without detail. We were finally coming down sitting on that porch, lazily leaning on one another, exhausted and smiling, as the world shifted slowly back into focus.
To this day, 25 years later, there is not a conversation between Rob and I that does not involve an enlightened laugh, and the words, Love the One You’re With.
Categories: Adventures & Travels