I don’t necessarily want to tell, but it’s too good of a story to keep to myself. This was back in 1997, and your humble narrator was high on mushrooms and standing atop a cliff somewhere in Pennsylvania. This was nothing unusual. I suppose you want to feel like you were there. So. It was maybe eight people. Seven hippies and me. It was a fogged over day. It made me happy. Like I was in San Francisco instead of Pennsylvania. The forest looked like a forest. A pretty one. Many cigarettes were smoked. We toted our butts. There was probably liquor.
None of this matters is the thing. Not when you’re standing on top of a cliff high on mushrooms and running from a bunch of angst-filled, drug-addled years and childhood memories. I could hear my Dad in my ear, and he was saying the things he used to say in those years. A lot of questions. Most of them boiled down to: You are Bad. That’s not a question, I know.
So, this cocktail of anger and drugs and hangover and hippie rage is standing at the top of the cliff, and I decide that I will climb to the bottom. Into a ravine. Maybe about 300 feet down. I know I can do it. I plant my white Chucks into the rock and start going. Hippies are amused. But bored. They don’t understand anything I do, ever, anyway. But they have good drugs and find me entertaining.
So, it’s late afternoon and all is right with the world. I’m making steady progress and I’m LOCKED into what I’m doing. I have FOCUS and I am GOING TO MAKE IT. I am filled with a racing glee at this point. I am king of the world. Suck my dick. I am God.
And then the rock changes. It starts to crumble. Pathways disappear in seconds. The hippies are aware of what is going on. The girl who would become my girlfriend I would cheat on is yelling at me from the top to come back up. Two of the craziest hippies are running through the trees yelling like archetypal savages. It’s weird. And wrong. And right.
And I have to get to the fucking bottom. This will make more sense if you have ever dipped your toes in the psychedelic damp – I had to complete my quest. I was nothing if I backed out. I was a fraud. Pussy. My Dad was right. My idealistic notions were bullshit. But I was stuck. The last rational part of my brain knew it. There was no way I was getting down that cliff alive.
I’d like to give you the exciting conclusion you deserve, but I lived. I eventually decided that I didn’t want to die on a cliff in front of hippies. I didn’t want to die in Pennsylvania. I climbed up and hated myself more and more the closer I got to the top. I remember doing a jump across a gap onto a rock that must have been two feet square. I can still feel that. The terror. Didn’t die though. And didn’t redeem myself either. I sat in the back on the way home and got drunk by myself. Drunk enough to take more mushrooms.
And I don’t remember much after that.