Am I up to this challenge? Every time.
For the past two and a half years or so, I have been going through something. I don’t want to call it a change, more of a progression. I’ve aged two and a half years. And while I have in my life aged two and a half years probably nine-ish times (math is hard) for some reason, the aging of this particular two and a half years has been especially daunting. I find myself more and more shocked as time goes by that anyone survives past 25. I’m having a hell of a time even making it there.
I don’t want to feel sorry for myself and have a whole woe-is-me-I’m growing-up-against-my-will pity party. That’s not what this is. This is legit.
It started toward the end of my first semester, senior year of college. And I really want to tell the story of how it started, but my parents and a couple of my aunts read this column and I really want them to still love me when all is said and done, so I will need to put this delicately. Hmm …
Yeah there’s no way to do that. So if you’re related to me, maybe you just look away now, ‘kay?
So my senior year of college, a friend (who shall remain nameless and completely without description) and I decided to try ‘shrooms. Now mind you, I am NOT a drug user. I’ve smoked weed before but it didn’t work for me (I don’t think I did it right) and I’ve never even considered trying anything else (I’m very certain that if I ever did try coke, I’d just sneeze it back out). So this was uncharacteristic to say the least. But I got curious. So we put them in some pineapple mango salsa and just kind of went to town.
Now I was under the impression from friends who’d done it before, or knew people who had done it before, that maybe I’d just see some weird visuals or feel all sixties-like (that made sense in my mind as an adjective at the time). A friend once told me about how he “was totally tripping balls” and a witch chased him around his basement all night on a broom. I figured that was my worst case scenario.
I. Was. Wrong. So very wrong.
At first my depth perception went kind of wonky. The floor seemed really far away. This made me laugh. When I realized I was the only one laughing, it made me really sad. Then, and this is almost as impossible to explain now as it was at the time, I stopped understanding how time worked. I didn’t understand why I could see the past but not the future. I tried to explain this to my friend, who did not understand, and this too made me sad. And that’s when things got bad.
While trying to see the future, I just kept seeing the past. I kept seeing all these little mental movies of my childhood. My grandparents coming over to our old house on Stokebridge for Christmas morning. My mom and I laying out on the deck, our skin smelling like coconut lotion. The day my dad first shaved his mustache and I was scared of him. The crabs on the beach in Hawaii. My brother and I in the pool, him wearing his little yellow floaties. My cousin Sarah and I playing spies during family parties, hiding behind clothes to listen in on conversations. My grandma making me tomato soup and chocolate milkshakes when I’d stay home from school sick. Listening to Kasey’s Top 40 in the car on sunny Sundays with my mom. My dad and I going to pick up Vic’s Pizza and then renting movies every Friday night. And I started crying. And then a voice at the back of my head started saying “this is over. This is over. This is all over. It’s all gone. It’s all gone. These are dead.”
Yeah, no, I know, it’s fucked up.
At this point, I’m three hours into this trip with three to four hours to go, and I am sobbing hysterically while rocking back and forth on my bed screaming in agony because the memories won’t stop. My brain was bombarding me and I couldn’t do anything about it. (My friend, it should be noted, was hanging out in my living room staring at my London Ballet Nutcracker poster because “they were all totally dancing to the music that’s not even there … wow,” and was completely oblivious to my breakdown just rooms away.)
Finally, hours later, it ended. But I’ve really never been the same. It changed me. I didn’t get the cool “Dude, you can totally hear colors” shit hippies talk about. I got the sudden and horrible onslaught of the most disturbing thing that could ever happen: growing up.
Two and a half years later, and I still can’t think about my memories happily. Even typing the paragraph up there had my eyes itching with tears, my throat closing while a sob tried to make its way up. Because it is all over. I’m not a kid anymore. I’m an adult now. An adult who in a matter of years will be getting married and having kids of my own. And though it’s only a few years away, right now I know I’m too young to even handle thinking about it. I’m not ready to be ready for this.
That’s not to say I won’t be. I know that I will. In a matter of years I will be ready to get married and have kids and look at my memories with joy and a gentle wistfulness, rather than the Our Town-esque “I want to go back” sadness I have now. And as time goes by, I’m getting there. I have a nice corporate sell-out job which allows me to pay my rent and buy cute clothes and eat Thai food. That’s good. That’s a step forward. You know what I don’t spend my money on? Pineapple mango salsa. Fuck that. I’m never eating that again.
What I’m saying here kids is don’t do drugs. They turn you off of your favorite condiments and turn you insanely Garden State Braffian. And no one needs that.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.