I’ve been thinking about moving to Minneapolis. I graduate in twenty days, and I don’t have a job, but someone told me to just pick a place and move there. I’m pretty sure a lot of my friends from high school live there. I texted one of them to check in.
“Where are you living these days,” I messaged Laura, rather impulsively. I probably should have at least said, “Hey!” Our last text exchange was from four years ago: “Home :)” I’d written. “Sleep tight!” She’d replied. “Thanks for hanging with me <3” Recently, though, some of her TikToks have shown up on my For You page, so I know she’s still around. It was 8:03am on the East Coast. At 11:25 am EST, she replied.
“The city of angels,” she wrote. I was just shaking out all of my bedding in search of my phone when I heard it buzz on the hardwood floor. Following the sound, I dropped to my knees and fished it out from under my bed. When I stood back up, I checked the notification. It took me a second to understand.
“No way! That’s amazing!” I wrote.
“Yes, it’ll be a year next month,” she sent with a crying emoji. I pulled my tote bag over my shoulder and grabbed a pair of sunglasses off my dresser. I placed the temple between my teeth and used both thumbs to type a response.
“How is LA? What are you doing there?”
“LA is fertile soil for where I find myself in my journey,” she messaged back, fourteen minutes later. I had just ordered a coffee across the street from my house. “A womb of growth and expansion. I recently quit my job as a barista (which I have LOVED) and now it is time for a change! New Scenery! New Heights! Trusting the path and following my heart. I will be learning and getting my certification in reiki later this month which I am oh so very excited for!”
I considered this response. I picked up my iced coffee and set out across campus to class. I scrolled through Spotify; I chose the song Sexotheque because the sun was shining, and because I had done my makeup that morning, and because I got extra vanilla in my coffee, so it seemed to match the general energy of the day. Six minutes later, I replied.
“What’s reiki?” I asked. I crossed Main Street without looking up from my phone. My music was loud in my headphones but in my peripheral, I noticed a car slow to a halt for me.
“It’s a Japanese energy work healing modality,” she said. I opened a new tab on my phone and quickly Googled “modality,” which didn’t help me understand. Another notification banner popped up at the top of my screen. I swiped down to read it. She had changed the subject: “Where are you?”
“Still at school,” I said. “Thinking about moving to Minneapolis, so I was just wondering if you were there too.”
“WOW!!!! What an exciting new beginning.”
“Haha ily,” I wrote. I stopped walking at the base of the steps leading into the English Department building. I was already late to class, but I typed out one more text: “I’m so scared.”
“Growth baby,” she said. “We find it in our fears.”
I showed this exchange to my friends in the library tonight. Both of them smiled, neither of them laughed.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “But is this not as laugh-out-loud-able as I think it is?”
“No, it’s funny!” Sophie said supportively. To prove her point, she laughed.
“She just seems like she’s doing a fuck ton of coke or something,” Christian said without looking up from his laptop screen.
“I don’t think that’s what coke does to you,” I said. Sophie giggled.
“Well I’m sorry I’ve never done drugs,” he said, but he looked over and smiled. “She just seems like she’s spent too much time in LA. Worst city ever.”
“She honestly seems very happy and very nice,” Sophie said. She looked back down at her novel and turned a page. “She’s on her journey.”
“Yeah she’s on a trip for sure,” Christian said.
My housemate, Arjun, has been trying to convince me to trip with him.
“How fun would that be?” he said. He was pacing around the kitchen one morning, seemingly unsure of what to do with himself. “If the whole house tripped together? I hear it's supposed to bring you closer together.”
I was spreading cream cheese on a bagel. Arjun consistently rises hours earlier than me. At mid-morning, I was slowly starting my day. Arjun was a ball of energy, he’d been awake for hours.
“My problem with hallucinogenics is that I hear you can’t shorten the duration,” I said. “Because, what if you have a bad trip? And you’re just locked in for eight hours straight.”
Arjun smiled and pointed his finger at me. “See, I hear it’s all about your mindset, though.”
“Well, yeah,” I rolled my eyes and sat down at the kitchen table. “The whole trip is just a mindset, love.”
“Yes, but if you go in being afraid of the trip, then of course you’re gonna have a bad trip,” he said. He stopped pacing opposite the table from me and turned to meet my eyes. “But if you tell yourself you’re gonna have a good trip…” He spread his arms wide and grinned. I chewed on my bagel and stared up at him, unconvinced. He went back to pacing around the kitchen.
I’d asked Arjun once if he ever feels afraid when he gets too high, and his attitude was similar to his thoughts on tripping. We were sitting on the steps of the front porch one night, passing a bowl back and forth, wondering about the family who lives across the street from us. We only occasionally see them – sometimes unloading groceries or walking out to grab the mail. They don’t linger in the yard or the driveway, and they keep their blinds closed always. We also see their Wifi in our network – it’s labeled “Hanover Home.” We wonder if this means they also have a “New York City Home” and a “Malibu Home.” The residents of our house have a particular fondness for them, though, because they’ve never minded us blowing smoke at their house every night, nor have they asked us not to incorporate their front yard into our house wiffle ball tournaments. While we talked, we finished one bowl, so Arjun packed another and lit up. I didn’t realize how many hits I’d taken until he moved to pack a third.
“Do you ever get too high?” I asked Arjun. I shook my head when he offered me to start the new bowl.
“Oh yes,” he said, holding the pipe to his lips and lighting. He pulled, exhaled, and continued. “Oh yes yes yes. I often get… too high.”
“Do you get scared?” I asked.
“I mean, I used to,” he said, shrugging. He put his pipe away and folded his hands in his lap. He looked down the dark street. There are no street lamps on our block. “But then I was like, you know, no high will last forever. It’s gonna end eventually. So I don’t get scared anymore. I just… enjoy it.”
I reminded Arjun of this conversation when he had a bad trip, not many days after our conversation about it. He had downloaded Snapchat later that day to text his drug dealer in the city – the only thing he uses the app for anymore – and bought 50 grams of mushrooms for the house. He messaged in our group chat: “Does anyone have a scale? Like for measuring small quantities of baking ingredients?” And the next day, “If ur planning on ‘measuring small quantities of baking ingredients’ please meet in the kitchen at 11:45.” It was Green Key weekend, and I was filling sippy cups with gin and lemonade powder for Abbi and I while Arjun measured out doses of shrooms for our housemates. He had still not succeeded in convincing me to trip. I wished them good luck and left to see an acoustic performance. When Abbi and I arrived home at 2pm, all of the blinds in the house were pulled shut, and the first floor was uncharacteristically dark. In the living room, Amanda was lying face down on the floor, and Evan sat on the floor with his knees pulled into his chest, swaying peacefully. Connie was watching Parks and Rec on the TV with her feet kicked up on the coffee table.
“I’m gonna check upstairs,” Abbi said. She was already leaving the room, and I heard her take the steps two at a time.
“Amanda?” I asked. I knelt down and gently rolled her over. Her eyes were open, and she smiled at the ceiling.
“Oh, she’s good,” Connie said, turning the volume down and sitting up. “She was laying out in the yard earlier but we brought her inside.”
“Are you sober?” I asked her, standing up.
“Yeah,” Connie laughed. “I had no idea people were doing this today, I just came downstairs and everyone was acting strange.”
“Ah that sucks, dude,” I said. She shrugged. I looked around again. “Where’s Arjun?”
Arjun was in the first floor bathroom. He’d locked himself in a while before and wouldn’t come out. I sat on the floor in the hallway and talked into the crack between the door and the doorframe.
“It’s not gonna last forever, love,” I told him. Inside the bathroom, the faucet was running nonstop. There were no other sounds. “Just try to enjoy all the pretty colors.”
I heard footsteps down the hall and turned to see Abbi.
“Who’s in there?” She asked, eyes wide.
Arjun, I mouthed. She sighed and sat down next to me on the floor, leaning her head back on the wall.
“Ari is throwing up upstairs,” she said. “But Raylen is taking care of her. I think she’s sobered up. And Sarah is bawling in her room. Like she won’t stop crying. But I’m not sure if she’s having a bad trip or just an emotional one.”
My experience with trips is that people aren’t really the same afterwards. The day after Arjun tripped for the first time, earlier this spring, I ran into him at the front door. He was going out, I was walking in. He held the door for me, which I took from him, then he slipped by me and started down the sidewalk.
“Hey!” I called after him. He turned around, walked a few paces back towards me. “What’s up? How are you?”
“I’m good,” Arjun said, shrugging. He clutched the straps of his tote with both hands.
“Yeah?” I prodded.
“Yeah,” he said. He turned his head and looked off into the distance. “I think… I think I’m gonna be sober for a couple days.”
“Really?” I said. The sun was shining, and Arjun loves to get high in the sunshine. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing really,” Arjun shrugged. He swung one leg in front of him, kicked the toe of one Converse with the heel of his other. “I’m just gonna try it out, you know.”
Or earlier this term, I was laying in my bed, editing pictures on my phone and posting them to VSCO. Abbi was sitting at my desk working on a problem set. A notification appeared: Elizabeth Miller favorited your image. Lizzie and I were friends in high school, but have lost touch since. Moments later, an iMessage notification appeared – a text from Lizzie.
“What if,” she said. “I came and visited you before you’re done at school?”
Immediately no, I thought. I showed Abbi the texts.
“How do I tell her ‘no’?” I asked.
“Just be like, ‘LOL!’” Abbi said. We laughed. “But no seriously, I do this all the time. Just play it off.”
“Omg!!!” I texted Lizzie back. “Imagine!!!”
“Hey, I’m serious if you are,” she responded. “I could use a getaway from Duluth and I hate that I never see you when you’re in town so why not bring myself to you??? Also I could imagine all the fun you’d show me over there.”
I showed Abbi again, more panicked. Abbi seemed a little panicked, too.
“Just don’t respond,” Abbi said. “Like, just don’t respond.”
“We literally haven’t spoken in years,” I said. I read her text a few times over. “It’s so weird of her to ask.”
“Yeah, so,” Abbi turned back to her work. “Just don’t respond.”
“Are you doing okay?” I texted back, a few minutes later.
“Ah well I’m surviving if that’s okay,” Lizzie said. “Been kinda iffy.”
“Oh noooooo,” I said, eager to change the subject. “What’s wrong????”
“Bah well,” she said. “So for background I feel like my recent shroom trip in the Hoh rainforest was the catalyst for me realizing I have a lot of built up pain from childhood attachment issues cuz of my dads anger and stuff. So I’ve been dealing with a lot of shame and guilt and so Jake and I recently decided to take a hiatus from each other.”
Jake and Lizzie had been dating since our sophomore year of high school.
“Oh no, I’m sorry baby,” I texted. And then, because this is the first I’d ever heard Lizzie say anything bad about her father, “What’s up with your dad?”
“Ah well,” she texted. “When I was younger he would get really angry sometimes and yell at me and stuff and being around that really has affected me over the years.”
“I had no idea,” I said. “Well, I don’t know how good of a host I could be, I’m so busy with school and work and getting ready for graduation and stuff.”
I went back to editing pictures, then. I posted a picture of my little and I, standing side by side, shotgunning cans of whiteclaw. And another of Abbi and I in a frat basement dressed as Taylor Swift in golden blonde wigs. And another of Arjun and I in a porch swing, ciders in hand, smoke billowing from our mouths.
But, all in all, Arjun claims he didn’t have that bad of a trip.
“It’s a spiritual experience, you know?” He said. It was several days after his trip, and he baked a frozen pizza for dinner. It was cooling off on the stovetop. “I’m probably not going to do shrooms often… but every once in a while, maybe… just to make contact.”
“Make contact with what?” I asked. I leaned against the sink flipping through a book Arjun left on the table. It was titled My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and it was supposedly very good – Arjun finished reading it in one day.
“Oh, you know,” Arjun said, rummaging through the silverware drawer. He pulled out a pair of scissors and pushed the drawer shut, then gestured all around him. I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Like, with the Creator?” I asked, cracking up. “Holy shit, Arjun.”
“No, no, no,” Arjun shook his head. With the scissors, he cut the pizza in half, then into quarters. “Nothing specifically. Just something, if you know what I mean.” He handed me a piece of pizza. “Have you read that book?”
I shook my head. We each took a seat at the table.
“What’s it about?” I asked.
Arjun had taken a bite of pizza. He chewed, then swallowed. “A lot of people recommended it to me. It’s about a girl who uh… does drugs all day every day for a whole year. But then at the end,” Arjun set down his pizza and held his hands out in front of his body, palms open. “She’s cleansed.”
On the Mind
On my way out of the house the other day, I ran into my housemate, Arjun, on the porch. It was hot, sunny, mid-morning. He was smoking a pipe by himself, sitting on the top step, wearing a yellow T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up enough to expose the tattoo of an applesauce pouch on his right bicep.