A week had passed since my arrival to Europe. So far I’ve traveled to London, Paris, and Brussels (albeit for a few hours). Most of my time was spent in book shops, wandering the streets along the way. I preferred solitude over company.
My favorite memory so far was in Paris, on the Shakespeare and Co. book shop, the one Mr. Joyce, Mr. Hemingway, and Mr. Scott Fitzgerald frequented during their stay in the city. It is a piece of modern literature history, almost a hundred years old. Every moment I spent inside that little store is indescribable to those who have yet to feel the grip of such landmark. The smell inside the old building lives fresh upon my memory.
The next stop along the journey was Amsterdam, the one place each member of our group was looking forward to visiting for virtually the same reasons. We departed from Paris in the morning, took the detour to Brussels, and arrived at Amsterdam at the crack of evening. We ate in an artsy restaurant a few twenty miles north of the red district. I drank a pint of beer to celebrate the occasion.
It was a tad bit cloudy when we arrived, but the city had the vibrating spectacle of being completely foreign to my eyes. The wind was chilly, a fresh 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Cyclists roam the streets in bunches, having their own designated roads for such activity.
We arrived at the hotel at 7am. With a hint of irony, the first scent perceived by my nostrils from the very moment I exited the bus was the tender touch of marijuana. Amsterdam greeted me with the best that it had to offer. I expected a fine night to be spent in the confines of one of their famed coffeeshops.
Once settled in, the group made preparations to visit such coffeshops. After some minutes of debating, we picked one named The Bulldog, some twenty five miles south of the hotel.
Before leaving, I bought three Heinekens from the beverage stand the hotel displayed in their lobby. I chugged them down out of mere exitement.
We took to the train downtown, passing through its course a fine stretch of intricately designed apartment complexes with crystallized aesthetics and a sense of modernity in every frame. There was little to no commotion, peaceful and crisp to the soul. The atmosphere — along with the substances to be consumed— gave the entire facade of surrounded bodies the chance to stretch and relax be it just for a little bit before we departed for Germany and Switzerland.
Thirty minutes were spent getting to the place. It was clearly seen upon the exist of the train station. A big sign, THE BULLDOG, dilated our pupils.
We swarmed the place like flies, occupying the bottom part of the shop in its entirety. The names of buds were displayed as a fast food menu. Mango kush, Super silver haze, King Kong, Stephen Hawking, White widow — it was a sight to marvel.
I bought a gram of White widow for 13 Euros, feeling butterflies as I made my first legal purchase of the Mary Jane. What a time to be alive, I thought to myself, patiently waiting to settle somewhere and smoke in peace.
Dimm lights illuminated the place with a purple coloring. It was busy place, with good clientele coming in and out like insurance agents. Everyone who stayed wanted in on a good trip. There was a room in middle, on the left corner, where I assume its visitors crank the intensity up to 11. Never got a chance to go inside, and to this very day curiosity scratches my nerves.
By that time in my life, I had only consumed pot about five times. I had no experience with the drug on a crazy, pseudo-metaphysical level. Such fact was not enough to prevent me from excessively consuming the substance. I took hits from everything. Blunts, pipes, bongs, brownies. My goal was to get as crazy as I possibly could, and talk incoherent shit to whomever was willing to listen for the rest of the night.
No more than twenty minutes later, my body suffered what I can best described as a crashing sensation. I remember the exact moment it happened. I was standing up, looking at the TV, when suddenly my vision felt heavy. In an instant, I was dizzy to the point of nausea, my heart was beating faster than a John Bonham solo, and my head was imploding from all the pressure it was building up.
I couldn’t move. Any sort of movement instantly made me want to vomit. I had the good decency of mind to realize what was happening, and took the necessary steps to avoid as less damage as it was physically possible for me to avoid. I moved slowly, taking baby steps to and fro as I approached the counter and order some water to cool me down.
For a while, the symptoms did cool down, but as I sat down to chill, they came back with a vengeance straight out of the book of Revelations. It was a physical form of despair I haven’t felt before or after. My whole body was a magnified blob without a proper conscience to guide it. I wanted to throw up, but under no circumstances was I going to allow myself to be ridiculed for that. I figured it was already too late to avoid being ridiculed for not being able to handle enough pot, but that’s something practice can fix.
A member of the group signaled me that we were leaving. Great, just what I fucking needed. In order to avoid a stir I tried to hide the blunder to the best of my abilities. I stayed quiet and minded my business.
For over an hour and a half, I roamed the streets of Amsterdam under these conditions. I still have no idea how the fuck I managed to exercise enough force to survive what felt like an eternity, but I did. I was walking with a limp, my head down, and deep focus on the ground. While I was still in the trance, everyone else wondered off to enjoy the THC embedded in their system.
Certain members of the group took notice on my state of being. They did little to help, sometimes making the situation worse. One particular individual was consistently checking out on my status, throwing me off balance every god-damn time. I don’t blame him for trying, but as he continued to bothered me, he became a pain in the ass. Some friends offered me a soda with fries, but they did little to remove the void. At the very least, the mechanical motions of putting food and liquids into my mouth gave me a distraction, a task to keep any mental functions from losing themselves to the void. The only verbal help I receive came from a pissed off friend telling me to get my act together with a hint of rudeness to his tone. In hindsight, his comments brought forth a dosage of motivation.
At some point it became clear that there was nothing I could do to prevent the stomach acids from being expelled. They’ve been eagerly awaiting their exist from this retched existence for far too long. There were no public restrooms in sight. The surest bet was to grind it out until we got back to the hotel. It was a matter of will, not chance. I began to repeat the mantra “easy steps, take it easy” over and over again until it was part of my motor functions.
One of the cons about cannabis consumption is how quickly the fun ends. In this case, it served to my benefit. Everyone was getting the munchies while I was still entranced in a chemical prison. They were getting tired, sleepy, and bored. The majority decided to go back to the hotel; the others stayed and explored what the rest of the city.
On the way back, I laid crouched in a corner, waiting for the almost thirty minute ride to end. The bumpy ride was agonizing. My whole body went completely off-balanced even by the slightest jolt. My eyes were closed for most of the ride due to the immense disturbance of light.
I got off the train almost limping, repeating the motion of closing the left eye and leaving the right eye open and switching whenever I felt the need to fall down. I took the escalators to keep my body moving. I could already feel the acids in the throat.
Sixty steps, two rights, and a left later, I reached my room. I frantically looked for the key, entered the room, went straight to the bathroom, and finally, after what felt an eternity of agony and tolerance, expelled whatever evil took control of my body. My roommates were frantically asking if everything was alright between the walls. I had no energies to answer.
Immediately after the expulsion, my tense body collapse to the ground with relief and grace. I laid on the floor for almost 10 minutes. After a while I took off my clothes, crawled into the shower, turned the faucet on, and took the most soothing bath of my adult life. The warm and crispy drops of water — that upon contact with my cold skin caused exasperated chills within all my body — sent me in a state of complete tranquility. I was at peace with everything, reflecting on the craziness beforehand, trying to come to grips with what happened. Nothing more than a crazy adventure I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
I stayed in the shower for almost an hour. If it was solely up to me I would’ve stayed there all night, but my roommates were getting bitchy so the metaphysical fun had to end. The night was still beginning for many, but mine was done. I went straight to bed, hallucinating that I was all alone on the train missing my exit to the hotel.
It’s been over a year since this happened. To this day it’s the most memorable drug experience I’ve had. I learned a lot about myself that day, more than I originally thought.
The next day we explored the city, but I was too hungover to care. I do remember a public thrift shop that sold vinyl records; that was pretty kick ass. My visit to Amsterdam ended on peaceful tone. For my next visit, I intend to visit the same coffeehouse for a do-over, where hopefully this time I achieve Nirvana without going through the thirteen gates of Hell.