I was born in a car on a freeway going faster than the speed limit. It was 8am in the morning, on what would be a clear November day, in spite of the smog.
I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, the deserts of southern California, along the beaches, and in the mountains. Celebrities don’t intrigue me. But I’m enamored by cute girls, make-up, and bleach. Go figure. It’s in my blood, along with hundreds of other synthetic chemicals.
At the end of August 1995, a precocious junior high school friend invited me to Madison, Wisconsin. I arrived in the morning and apparently too early in the morning for her. When she picked me up from the airport, we returned to her place, and she promptly returned to her room, going back to sleep. Apparently she was rejoining her bedmate, which I didn’t realize until a male occupying her room slipped out, just before she later got up.
Having delivered me to her apartment in a foreign, humid, but green town, I wondered what the hell I was going to do with myself that day, but I ended up drifting back to sleep halfway inside a sleeping bag in the middle of the living room.
I’m not sure how much time had passed when a bomb exploded, and I swear I jumped up onto my feet, somehow leaving the sleeping bag neatly arranged on the floor. Immediately, a downpour ensured unlike anything I had ever witnessed. As a child and young person always sensitive to environmental cues indicating presence of the spirit and deeper significance, this certainly reminded me that unexpected should be expected. And at all times.
And I had been reminded for more than a week to expect the unexpected. Already, as so often becomes travels, so many new sights and sounds get loaded into a traveling souls consciousness far exceeding that of the routine images and interactions one has in one’s daily life. I had seen the Cape, I had visited a tiny island in Maine. I had visited New York City for 24 hours. I had run along abandoned railroad tracks. I had walked along Newbury Street. I had slept in a house older than any I probably had ever visited, although the homestead house in Arkansas might have been older.
Once my friend roused from her companion-vacated bed, we began to piece some of our connections back together. How could I have ever imagined that the next day, I would strain to put threads back togethr that only time could reconnect.
We went out, into downtown Madison. We passed her school. A music store was a highlight. Always loved music stores. After she had shown me around the downtown area, I began to dread the possibility that I was going to be bored out of my mind for the next few days. Then, just as we were about to return to her place, we ran into some people whose energy certainly raised my eyebrows. Thinking back, if I had just known to ask, I would have thought to myself, “What are they on?” I had nothing to reference that their eyes gleamed with the excitement of past dancefloors, projecting into anticipated moments of the night to come.
One, a curly blond-haired guy had procured some tickets to a dance party at an ice rink. Someone else was there I vaguely remember, but I was shy and the exchange was brief. Little did I know the primed condition of their neurons anticipating the sights and sounds to be sensed at the party, a rave. Lady Miss Kier would be there, headlining. Deelight, oh yeah, I knew of them. It was near Chicago. The crew charged up like the tickets were radioactive trailed off in a blur. As we walked back to her place, my friend and I considered the possibility of going out there. The alternative was a play, and it didn’t sound as much fun. She took a nap. I’m not sure what I did. I remembered several new year’s eves from then that some friends took LSD, but I got what I needed from the contact high, the glimmer of the city lights through the dark desert night.
She made dinner for us. It featured pasta and some freezer-burned green beans with mushrooms. I forced myself to eat it. During that conversation, I asked about the likelihood of there being LSD at the event. She said that that’s what the lights and sounds all were designed to make better, the trip. After telling her that I would be interested, I didn’t bring it up again until we got to the party.
I don’t remember the drive there. Apparently, Chicago is 2.5 hours away from Madison. I think someone rode with us. A cute blond girl with a labret piercing. A week later I would get my tongue pierced for the first time. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
When we arrived, I must have been sleeping. I don’t even remember getting off the freeway, but I do remember a guy with overalls and hat like one made famous by the cat in the hat. We went in. I was wearing an orange Sonic Youth T-shirt I had gotten at a Lollapalooza in Denver, Colorado, weeks earlier and some Nike running shoes.
We got inside. Music was blaring, and there were quite a few people there already. Some in the bleachers. Some walking around the outside of the rink, some people on the rink. There were a few people dressed up like robots. I really had never heard music like that music before. Thinking back, it was late 1995. It was old school techno, music that was “old school” even when it was fresh. And it was.
We walked around, split up, did whatever. It seemed like hours had passed. I was getting tired. I had asked my friend if she had found anything, and she said no. I think I started to hint about getting tired. I didn’t want to be a party pooper, but was I supposed to just find a place and crash? We split up again. I would give it a little longer before I was going to have to insist to go home.
I ran into her again. Before I could tell her I was ready, she told me she had found something. She brought me to this muscular guy with a shaved head. He said, “Put out your hand.” He had lost his patience with me before he had met me. “No, put your hand like this.” He motioned for me to make a flat surface with the web of my thumb and forefinger. He dropped a few drops of something on my hand. “Lick it,” my friend said. I licked it.
There was a moment when I knew something was different. I was looking at people in the faces. I was looking at people in the eyes. To this day, I consider that one of the greatest gifts. Maybe you can’t appreciate it because you never were taught *not* to appreciate the beauty in people’s eyes and faces. But even, now, when I look people in the faces on the street, I’m reminded of the gift of having a peak behind what was deeply ingrained and learned behavior. And effortlessly. With a little drop.
Even now, so many images from that night remain with me. They aren’t flashbacks. They are memories. I think of sitting in the bleachers and overhearing some freaks talk about their lives. I tripped out, imaging my going home with them and living in a house with them all, just partying and doing whatever we wanted. This was in stark contrast to my life of studying in a sleepy suburb at a tiny liberal arts college, keeping my grades up, and enduring another year of school. That is nearly what I did, but with a twist.
Maybe it’s chance, maybe it’s fate. A week later, I met someone who would be a partner in psychonautic exploration for years. Within weeks, I would find myself in an environment that would be a home of self-discovery, learning, and tremendous growth from 1995 to 2011.
And we go underground, once more, like cockroaches. Heyhey, I said cock and roaches. Here’s a little of this; pass me some of that.