By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004
25 June 04... Somewhere, Indiana
I wandered down past a bevy of lost souls repairing themselves in the hot, early afternoon Indiana sun. I could hear the clatter of shuffling feet on the crowded gravel road as small clouds of dust kicked up with each step. Faint whispers of drugs for sale drowned out the catchy sales pitches of hundreds of vendors that lined the main road in the campgrounds. A couple of sunburned frat boys from Ohio offered up Pale Ales for $3. An extremely dirty, shirtless kid about twenty years old, with a scraggly beard tugged on my arm. He could've looked like Jesus. But shit, if Jesus showed up at a Phish show in the middle of nowhere, he certainly wouldn't be trying to sell me Yay-yo for $60 a gram.
I thought about the spun out girl (who looked a lot like Reese Witherspoon) with the big black dog selling the ganja cookies before the last Brooklyn show. The Joker let her tie her dog up to his vehicle as she sat down next to us and sold her baked goods while the Joker sold Bloody Marys and other vodka drinks. Two days after Brooklyn, we saw the blonde teenager standing barefoot in the middle of a parking lot in Saratoga. She was yapping on her cellphone, with her big black dog tangling the withered bright blue leash around her legs. We tried to get her to tell us why she was so fucked up the last time we saw her. After the show in Coney Island, she wandered through the lot without her dog and walked right past us. We shouted her name and she kept walking until the Joker nearly tackled her. After she gave us a glazed over look, we could tell she was far gone. And what good was wasting my time on a girl whose mental capabilities were somewhere near oblivion? It makes you wonder how kids that wasted were able to get from show to show and from city to city, without getting killed, arrested, or ODing in an alley behind a liquor store in suburbia.
My thoughts were messy and worth absolutely nothing. I couldn't even trade the best of them for a warm sip of beer. I was spilling over with excitement at the thrill of seeing Phish in the upcoming hours. The vodka mixed with lemonade and painkillers destroyed any order I attempted to set forth. My sundrenched mind was stained with inebriation after ingesting a lifetime's worth of illegal narcotics and controlled substances, hourly, for the entire week leading up to Deer Creek. Thumb wrestling with penguins sounded good at that point.
I ran out of cash and had only marijuana, my honor, and comedic skills to barter for food, drinks, various goodies, pharmies and other party favors. I found an old Deadhead who gave me two breakfast burritos in exchange for a handful of nugs. A cute girl from North Carolina with armpits hairier than mine, traded me a couple of rolls for a Valium and some nugs, even after I almost stepped on two of her three puppies that she lead around with pink ribbons. She loved the red dinner jacket that I had been wearing the entire tour.
"You must wear yours with a difference," she said in a mild Southern twang as we departed with a solid hug.
When I returned to base camp I was exhausted. I needed to take a nap. I clumsily emptied my pockets. I had three Valium pills, two hits of ecstasy, a three and a half grams of Smurf, $3 in cash, my ticket to the concert, scribbled setlists on various pieces of paper, a lighter, a bowl, a pen, three poems written on a flyer, two business cards from people I'll never see again, sunglasses, my cellphone, a paperclip, two rubber bands, and three pieces of stale gum. I lined up all my drugs and took a mental picture. My inner space was ruled by havoc. My will and fate were not going to be overthrown by my sloppiness. I was determined to have one of the best nights of my life. I lived for those moments. Steve McQueen wouldn't have taken a nap. I took a deep breath. It was only noon. My morning binge was only the first steps of an epic journey. It was time to shift gears. I could taste the fear as I let it go.
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.