This post will establish the fact that I'm not writing this series in any type of chronological order. The stories will, of course, all be insomnia inspired, written stream of consciousness, and take place between August 2005 and May 2009, hence "College Chronicles"...
College Chronicles Part 2: The Pinnacle
"What kind of beer do you want at the party?"
"I don't really care. I'm so used to drinking absolute shit, whatever works for you is fine by me."
"My friend might be able to get shrooms."
"No shit! I can't wait."
It was the end of February, second semester freshman year. At the time, I wasn't allowed a a car on campus, so my parents would come pick me up and drive me home for monthly visits. They couldn't wait until my sophomore year when I could make the sixty mile trek home myself. Neither of us knew at the time that my monthly visits would turn into holiday visits, then just break visits. Since I had class every day of the week, my stay at home would begin Friday afternoon and end Sunday night, the time spent gorging on home cooked meals and sleeping for twelve hour intervals in my luxuriously comfortable double bed.
"How's college, Matt?"
Family members always ask this. I never know how to answer. I could choose between spewing forth a monologue about how Dr. Smits droned on and on about the Plains Indians of the 16th century, letting them know about the six hour bong sessions and the subsequent journeys to the dining hall to feast on macaroni and cheese and chocolate covered pretzels, or give a play by play of "Intense Ball", a game that I played with my floormates that involved smashing a volleyball around a fully furnished 10 x 6 dorm room at four in the morning. Any of these would describe my freshman experience.
A few days before heading home, my friend who goes to school in Philadelphia called me and invited me to a housewarming party as his new apartment the following Saturday. I had no transportation, but I could easily convince my parents to bring me home for the weekend where I'd have access to my car. When I told them that Kahle was having a party, they were more than willing to let me go (we had been good friends for fifteen years, his mom used to babysit me), but they insisted on dropping me off because I was too inexperienced a driver to handle the city. Fair enough, I was sure I could convince somebody at the party to drop me off on their way back home.
Kahle was a college freshman at Temple University in Philadelphia. His dad worked for the school, so he and his older brother Jesse went there for free. They lived together in an apartment in the city just off campus. Jesse was three years older than us. We all used to hang out over the summer when my mom dropped me off at their house before work. I spent every summer there from kindergarten to high school, remaining in contact with both, albeit on a less frequent basis. This was the second time I had ventured to their apartment for a party since I started college. It would be the last.
My parents dropped me off at the apartment complex at 8 PM. I told them I'd be back at some point the following day, and I'd call them if I needed a ride. They drove off, and I headed inside. I called Kahle and he came down to sign me in at the front desk. He led me through a few long corridors, a maze of identical white walls and blue doors. Somehow, he was able to identify which was his, and he brought me inside. The apartment was quite small, an oddly shaped kitchen and shared bathroom squeezed between two tiny bedrooms. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the collection of beer cases displayed between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling. Every bit of cabinet space was covered. There had to be at least thirty boxes, each advertising a different brand.
"That's what we've drank since we moved in."
"How long have you been here?"
"Three weeks. But that's nothin', take a look at this!"
He opened the refrigerator door, revealing the most artistic display of alcohol that I've ever seen. Every square inch of the fridge was packed with Keystone Light beer cans. Each of the three shelves and the door were covered. He slid the two drawers open to reveal several cans laying down, unable to roll up or down from being packed so tightly.
"These five cases are for tonight. You want one?"
He handed me a can. I cracked it open and listened to the carbon dioxide hiss as it escaped from the tiny crack I had made in the lid. I thanked him and took a sip, the night had begun. He took me into one of the bedrooms where his friend was stuffing a clay hookah bowl with weed. I recognized him as Cherry, Kahle's friend from high school. I had smoked weed for the first time at Kahle's house nearly two years before with him. The three of us had waited until late at night before sneaking outside to smoke a joint rolled with receipt paper. We had come a long way.
"Hey man, don't you need to mix that weed with shisha? And where's the tinfoil and coals?"
"You don't need any of that, watch this."
He placed the packed bowl on top of a small hookah sitting on top of the desk. The water at the bottom of it looked like it hadn't been changed for weeks. The stem was sticky and covered in ash. He brought the hose to his mouth, pulled out a lighter, and lit the weed. The familiar sound of air being pulled through the water filled the room while the grimy glass chamber filled with smoke. After a few seconds, the noise stopped and Cherry let out a massive cloud of gray smoke.
"That's how you do it, motherfucker! Take a hit, pussy."
Cherry was an articulate individual. I grabbed the hose and lighter from his hands and repeated the process, but my inhale lasted a few seconds longer. When I exhaled, the room filled with smoke. Tiny specks danced in my peripherals.
"No, that's how you do it."
There was an eighth of weed in that clay bowl. That's three and a half grams. Under normal marijuana circumstances, one fills a small glass bowl with maybe half a gram and then shares it with a group of three or four friends. All parties involved will be plenty stoned for the better part of the evening. The three of us finished the clay bowl in fifteen minutes then walked to the fridge to put a dent in Kahle's art project.
A couple of hours passed and people started showing up. By midnight, I had smoked two joints and another bowl (the normal kind) and played two games of full cup beer pong. Normal people distribute a beer or two between six cups, resulting in just the lowest quarter of each cup being filled. We had six cups, so we used six beers. I'm 5'9" and, at the time, I didn't weigh more than 125 pounds. You do the math.
By 1 AM, thirty-five people were squeezed into Kahle's apartment. Other people brought other alcohol and other drugs. It was then that Kahle pulled me to the side.
"My friend is here and he is selling an eighth of shrooms. Forty dollars. You interested?"
"I want to see them first, but hell yes."
He led me through the party to the shadiest kid in the room. He was reclined in a chair wearing a trench coat over a wife-beater, torn jeans, and dirty shoes. He had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. It looked like he hadn't shaved in a few days and, if I had to guess, I'd say he hadn't eaten or been outside in a week.
"You want caps? I've got caps."
He pulled out a plastic bag with a few dried, brown mushrooms lying at the bottom. They were covered in blue bruises. That was a good sign.
"My friend grows his own up at TCNJ. He sells them to me for thirty."
"Man, I don't give a shit what your friend has. These caps are forty dollars. You can not buy these tonight and have a good night, or you can buy these and have an amazing night."
I've never been much of a haggler. I bought them for forty and, against my better judgment, ate the whole eighth. This was a bad idea for two reasons. The first, obvious reason, was that I had consumed way too much alcohol and marijuana to add psilocybin mushrooms into the mix. Mental effects aside, my stomach was filled with thirteen beers, and mushrooms give you food poisoning. Marijuana contributes to the mental and visual aspect, making the entire experience that much more intense. The second reason was that I had promised my floormates that I would get shrooms that weekend and that I would hang out with them while I tripped. I guess when you are that intoxicated, you don't think about consequences so much.
Forty minutes later, I started coming up. I watched as the popcorn ceiling transformed into an army of ants crawling down the walls. I laughed with delight as a dry erase board covered in multi-colored signatures turned into a three dimensional sculpture that took various forms. Then, I blacked out.
I must have opened my eyes a few times while I sat unconscious on the bed. I saw a kid that I recognized from elementary school, one of Kahle's friends. I shot back through time and saw my seventh birthday party at pizza hut. That kid threw up all over the pizza that day. I traveled further backwards and watched as flying saucers danced in geometric patterns as they built the pyramids with two dimensional cartoonish Egyptian men wearing tie-dye loin clothes. I opened my eyes again, revealing a waterfall of some brown substance covering the floor. Next I was standing in a doorway and somebody that I vaguely recognized said, "Everybody leave, the cops are here. Hey, are you okay?"
I came to in a small tiled room. I had no idea who I was, where I was, or how I'd got there. I looked down. The floor was covered in vomit. I followed the trail to the toilet which was filled with vomit. The walls were smeared with vomit.
It slowly came back to me. There was a party. I took mushrooms. I need to get home. I opened the bathroom door and found a disaster area. I barely recognized the place as Kahle's apartment. Empty cans and bottles covered every surface. To walk was to wade through a sea of glass and aluminum garbage. Two people were passed out on the floor. Kahle was sprawled out on a chair unconscious, his face covered with black ink penises. There was one guy still awake. He was drinking a bottle of water in the kitchen.
"Hey, man. You've come back. You were fucked up, dude."
"Where am I? What day is it?"
"What day is it? Dude! It's Sunday, you are messed up, man."
"I need to get home. Can you take me home?"
"It's six in the morning, man. I don't even know where you live. I'm about to sleep in my car, you can come if you want."
I grabbed my coat and walked outside into the freezing February morning. He led me to a dirt parking lot a few blocks down the road where sat a 1988 white piece of shit. I curled up in the back seat and slept for half an hour. When I woke up, I couldn't feel my toes and we were moving.
"I'm going back to my house in Shamong. You're welcome to come along. Call your parents or something, man."
He dropped me off at a Wawa pretty close to my house. I called my mom and told her to pick me up. It was then that I realized my pants and shoes were covered in vomit. I stank. I must have looked like death. My mom pulled into the parking lot twenty minutes later.
"What the hell happened to you?"
"I'm fine. I was helping out this girl who was ill and she threw up all over me. Everything was okay, though."
"Right. You need a shower. Throw out those clothes. Let's buy you some new shoes, too."
I love my mom..:-)