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Mushrooms in Amsterdam, February 2004

We were just beginning to "come up," having eaten a dose of psychedelic mushrooms about a half-hour earlier.

A friend had come to visit me, February of 2004 in Nijmegen the Netherlands. We'd gone to Amsterdam to eat mushrooms. (Why? Why take mushrooms to the capital city? I don't know.) The second half of the high was good — but especially good because it wasn't bad.

Passing through the Flower Market, a famous covered open-air tourist attraction off Leidsestraat, we were on our way toward Vondelpark, about a quarter-mile further.

C_ decided to stop and take a photograph. At the moment he raised his camera, I spotted a small sign, in English, on a post inside of one of the open-sided, covered retail areas: NO PHOTOGRAPHS PLEASE.

Of course, ordinarily that would not have been cause for any disturbance — you'd simply point out such a notification to your fellow visitor; and if he's taken one photograph in the interim it's only a matter of a small violation of a simple request.

But we were coming up on mushrooms — which we'd purchased at a "smart shop" in Nijmegen where I was living, and had brought with us for use this morning.

I said something like, "um, C_, you're not supposed to take photographs," and probably said it in such a way that I conveyed a fear that he would actually take that one photo. He picked up on my apprehension, and took a discomforted step backward, knocking over a stack of God-knows-whatever-it-was behind us.

And we were off — not physically, but mentally — the trip had started, and badly.

There is not a piece of land in Amsterdam that comes from nature, nor one that is not planned. This is even or especially true in Vondelpark, a large greenway to which my pal and I went. I say "especially" because when you know that you're in the most natural spot for miles (kilometres,) you're not going to find any space, anywhere.

You have to come together.

I came apart for a while. I sat on a bench just inside the park, near a pond.

C_, knowing that I would need my space, and he pursuing his own, said we'd separate "like two drops of water," — and meet up again later, here in the park.

I remember watching the flashing sparkle of wavilinear flickering rainbow concentric and interskipping spectrum dazzle upon the water. Its beauty was not for me, although I have known the pleasure of gratuitous hallucination.

My heart was aching, those days. K_ was in pain; I did not know what to do. I didn't know what I was doing — back in Nijmegen, I mean, and in general here these days with my life. I had not seen my family nor my American friends in four years....

But all I wanted was my own space. I wanted space. I wanted my own space.

I got up and went looking for a place to be alone. I didn't find one. I left the park; walked, walked, walked.... There was no private space anywhere inside or outside the park. We'd checked out of the hotel... (not that I had the moral option of leaving C_, there in the park by himself tweaking on a psychedelic mushroom....)

I finally made a decision, passing the rose garden in Vondelpark, to lie down on a bench — never mind. It was late morning, the weather was fine, and people were about... but I needed to lie down, and to lose partial consciousness.

And I did that. I lay there for a while.

And I came to a feeling.... People. The people I know. The people I love. I have to go to America....

Family.... Friends.... People.

C_ and I had separated, nearly an hour (hours?) ago.



My friend C_ is here, somewhere. I went to find him. I did, in a superlative, placid refuge on a bench under tree-shade, and sheltered from the park by a bushy tree just full of different little chippy chirping birds. C_ was in high, positive form, and though I lay down on the bench expecting to suffer for a while, he brought me out within a minute.

Later, we went and visited the nearby Vincent van Gogh museum; then walked along streets and canal-side roads.

We agreed that Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities we've seen.