Doing drugs in Paris and trying to find God.
|For some reason, I am taken away from this stagnant November evening and dropped into a Campuséa dorm room and the air is heavy with the corrosive taste of burning tires. The original lineup of Parisites are congregated on the bed and Ben’s got his backpack full of drugs. Each of us are eager to participate in our most novel drug experience: DMT. Fifteen euro a hit. From a lightbulb makeshift vaping apparatus. |
I don’t see much of the preparation because we are among friends and I know that Ben knows what he’s doing and that I certainly do not. I don’t remember the order, just that Isabel, Marina, and Yasmine will go before me. Ben produces a lightbulb doctored to smoke out of, and those preceding me take their hits. All of them have spiritual experiences to one degree or another: Isabel and Marina seem to be passively at one with what the universe is conveying to them, while Yasmine is sure that she’s seen her god. Tears well from her calmly closed eyes and follow the pointed pathways that her dense, dark lashes create before spilling down her brown cheeks, past her lips trembling in a shaky closed-mouthed smile. I can’t say that I’ve never seen her so calm or happy because we all did so many drugs that my perception is nothing if not unreliable. Yasmine was one of the few in our tribe that was mildly religious and so if any sort of spiritual drama were to happen, I’d expect it to occur to her or, less likely, Marina. So it wasn’t surprising that she interacted with her god, yet something struck me by her reaction. I wasn’t expecting tears. The non-believer in me cringes to admit that her reaction stirred embers of hope in the deepest caverns of my belly. What would I see? What would I feel? What truths would be unveiled? Maybe I wasn’t forgotten by my god, after all.
I’d remembered all the times that I’d tried to connect with a god: all those Granny-mandated church visits in which I witnessed a whole congregation sync into some frequency that eluded me, carried on the tails of hymns woven by their synchronized voices. And though my voice was concurrent with the rest, the words fell flat from my lips and hit the floor while the rest rose in warm swells, occupying the chapel with a joyous heat that demanded space. And I’d remembered all those moments as a child, alone in the blue darkness of my room, hurting and searching for something that could bring equilibrium to the chaos. I’d hopefully started conversations that ended up being monologues, with nothing and no one responding back; my small voice strangled out by the cold blank slab of the universe’s obstinate indifference.
But right now I’m not alone and I’m not in church, well not a formal one anyways. Ben guides the base of the lightbulb to my lips and warns me that it’s going to taste like shit, but to hit it and hold it in deep. I hold the base to my lips and the bulb in my other hand. Ben’s thumb catches the lighter button, and just as soon as I hear the flint scrape to ignite I pull the bitter burning black smoke into my lungs and almost drop the bulb from the battery acid scorching my airways. The inert gas inside the bulb opens a portal to hell; the thin glass separating me from the flaming filament and newborn dragon’s breath superheats, searing white my supportive fingertips. I feel as if the smoke has laser-cut its way through my respiratory system and I can feel each raw and blistered cell screaming for some semblance of relief from this thrashing pain. But I hold the poison deep in my chest like a prayer for five, ten, fifteen seconds before the dam of my mouth cannot bridle the noxious gasses and my lips break. My body gladly returns the toxic fumes to the atmosphere, organs angrily bucking every molecule of black smoke out of me in a series of choking coughs, heaving gags, and hyperventilating, wet-from-birth gasps. My head swims, sediments in a whirlpool, brain rinsed blank and dizzy by the chemical bath. And yet even as the silt settles I am remarkably… unaffected. My closed eyes see no visions, my open mind yields no revelations. Sober. Untouched, save for my incinerated airways.
Ben is in disbelief but offers me another hit. And another. And another. Four hits of the oily black smoke and still nothing. Still sober. And now, sombre. Ben seems almost annoyed as he offers to clear my tab, seeing as I’m a good friend and now have a 60 euro debt for nothing but a flash-fried trachea. The others take their hits and experience varying levels of spiritual enlightenment. I watch them enjoy their short trips and ask about what they saw, what they learned, what they felt. That ember of potential hope in my belly stung hot with indigence and sprang around inside me erratically like a downed power line, live, and possessed by the spitting pain of me knowing that there is no god for me.