it used to be that just about seven or eight o’clock every night i’d smoke myself a tightly packed bowl before settling in to my little ikea sectional and what had become my nightly ritual. popping my earbuds in, i’d close my eyes and press play, sometimes an album, sometimes a playlist, mine or sometimes another’s. i’d envelop myself in the notes, letting myself swim in the music and the soft warm glow of the lamp in the corner, shaped into the form of an orange gummy bear about two feet tall.
this was the church that i made for myself, out of music & cannabis, the spiritual communion into which i let my mind go – into my writing, into school, into this or that fantasy, into ideas or just into colors or out of myself, the thc in my body conjuring trails out of the blue beneath my eyes.
it all had started with a little hash from a friend at death cab for cutie at the hollywood bowl, playing there that night with the el lay phil. i’d never listened to them before, but it was the hollywood bowl and the ticket was free.
she loaded up this teeny tiny pipe with a small piece of brick that we smoked between us, picnicking on the lawn outside beforehand. it wouldn’t really really hit until we stood, my legs a little unsure and my vision suddenly weird. and then it would really really hit again in magnitudes when the music began.
i still can’t name you a death cab for cutie song, but i remember so clearly how fucking beautiful their music sounded that night, tickling my ears and filling my chest and lifting me up, the orchestra playing behind the band in their dress white tuxedos. awestruck by the way the stage lights shone down upon us and them from the top of the dome, the rush of wonder so strongly felt in my chest, i couldn’t help but declare out loud and up to the sky,
“it’s just so fucking beauuuutiful…”
i’d never smoked hash before that night, but not long after i’d have a brick of my own for lady gaga in san francisco at the graham.
it was a trip that could only be described as a surgical strike, checking in saturday after the drive up from l.a., then back out of town first thing monday. or something like that.
i wouldn’t remember much of that night, save for beautiful lights again and that feeling in the core of me, only this time it would be awe at all of the graham singing along with our lady, voices lifted up in her queer and monstrous church. we would end up at the legendary end up late, late into the night, giving away hugs to a gay boy all night as he rolled on e and reveled in the feel of my second hand rabbit fur jacket.
i came home from that trip involved in a platonic love affair with a straight woman and a speeding ticket from the bakersfield chp, along with the rest of the hash. i threw my bag on the bed, loaded up the little stone pipe of my own, popped in my earbuds, pressed play and closed my eyes – the moment. what had begun as a one off concert party time quasi walk on the wild side in short order gave way to this, this something more.
my mass would grow with my mind – expanding first at city college, walking the short distance from my apartment to and from class. and then further after landing here in the bay, migrating from my little ikea sectional to walking the rolling hills of the neighborhoods and campus of berkeley, from the southside to the north.
until the day i lost my music.
consider it a figure of speech when i say day, it wasn’t something that happened overnight. i lost it over the time between deaths – the death of a name, the ending of friendships, the death of a father and the death of a lover, and during the seemingly endless waves of acute, chest crushing grief, physically and mentally unable to tolerate feeling too much. feeling too much of anything, too much joy, too much sorrow, it becomes best not to risk rocking one’s proverbial boat in the rough seas of emotions, yet drif drif drifting away, still still still.
until the day that i found it again. only this time it really was a day. the day that i left my place, walked out the front door of my building, and saw the person i was leaving to meet, at the coffee shop just across shattuck, pacing in front, their tiny dog leading the way on a rainbow leash. ready to embrace my life again, the music began to tickle my ears. starting to feel, starting to feel and feeling, then a little time passes and so does the virus, with death all around, death all around us.
so i look for the music and sometimes it’s hard and feels almost impossible. but it is there, it is always there. it is there in the sunshine, dosing mushrooms in dolores park. it is there in the sound of the wind in the trees as you walk your dogs in the evening with my love. it resides in the miracle feeling i am strong enough to find it again. it’s in the surprise of finding giorgio moroder covered tom’s diner with britney spears. it’s in finding your music as america burns. find your music, find your music and you’re sure to find your little nas x at the arch of the rainbow and the soft warm glow of the lamp in the corner, shaped into the form of an orange gummy bear about two feet tall.