To love is to paint pictures for the blind. I do not see, said the daydreamer. My dreams are intoxicating, my hangover is waking life. When blanketed in linen armor, nightmares become merely ways to surprise ourselves into feeling. I’ve crossed continents while lucid and flown through twilight across oceans. Empires have come under my control, to assume the crown I needed only to close my eyes. Each night, the ghosts of a haunted mind construct a new world into which we’re thrown. We wake mid-scene to settings of fantasy woven by our unconscious. Then we live through these attempts of self-created fictions like sped up montages, fading in and out of vignettes, each a bizarre piece of an incongruent glued-together puzzle. Tragedy and terror, comedy and love, they fuse in a spin cycle to wash the mind free of entrenched symbols. Strange avatars, abstract figurations, uncanny routines, all of reality is subverted, shown inside out. This world is awash in nostalgia once we take our final trip through the wormhole and reemerge blinking awake in the bedroom. We chase down encore viewings well past the initial matinée has ended, sleepwalking through reveries every dusk until the dawn.
This city is shrinking in around me. Kids wearing $50 shirts asking for 50 cents pressing in from the left, overpriced cars cutting me off on the right. Behind me, overweight cops with shaved heads glaring from blacked-out SUVs while up ahead another gold-digger stares up from her plate on the outdoor patio of a restaurant destined to close in two months. The rain, the heat, the dirty snow, the constant fucking construction, the unchanging festivals, the river fireworks, all the standard city entertainment that turns into a torturous film reel after a single viewing. I’m nauseous from the nightly train rides scored by overdriven cellphone speakers, transit cops performing their ideas of toughness, elderly vanilla women chirping back and forth about nothing at 5:30 in the morning. I’m sick to death of this city and if I’m cursed to die here I’ll still hate it from six feet below the ground. Sick of the corner asshole on the stepladder preaching about his hate for fags, sick of the Bambi-eyed college students fighting for everything but their own plan for life. Sick of my father who ran away from me, sick of my mother who made me run away from her. Sick of everybody I see from morning to night. Sick of this sick world. I’m sick to my stomach and I don’t believe we have time left to be cured.
The shaman must have been new to the job. A bit shaky with the hands, he spilled the mixture, wiped the surface clean with his palm, and continued kneading the muslin bag. The room could have used a little cleaning, too, but it was brightly lit, I will give him that. Fine particles of the ground root hung in the air, passing through the beams of sunlight. I could not tell what was dust and what was sacred. Looking at the guy, I was losing confidence in the profession. Shamanism seemed to have turned into an entry-level gig. Still, as long as the cook can handle his skillet, the waiter needs only working thumbs.
The guy poured the first round and handed me the shell. The drink was colored coffee-and-cream and tasted like mud gone rancid. Through the years of putting into my body substances still mysterious to the western world, I’ve learned the worse it tastes, the better the ride. And darling, that first sip was oxygen masks falling from the ceiling. One more made me want to rush the cockpit. Where the hell did he find this stuff? How much trial and error, how many accidental poisonings, how much cutting, dicing, boiling, burning, chewing, snorting, how many goddamn plants, shrubs, and trees uprooted until they stumbled across this… thing, this recipe out in plain sight, this splatter of paint that suddenly, one average day during one average life, became a Pollock? Yeah, this stuff was good. I was deep in daydream in front of his fridge when he noticed me, “You like my daughter’s finger paintings?”
Yeah, I guess I do.