It’s an unusually cold Boston morning. Deadline looms, and the usual writerly process of mine has begun. It involves a lot of manic, calves-on-fire pacing, distant gazes for awkward periods of time, made even more awkward by my doing so in the morning uniform of the home office worker (sweatpants hanging off backside, no shirt, stomach out) while standing in full view of the triangular city park across from my house. My apologies to the parents on playdates. It was early.
Sporadic thoughts give way to immersive recall, a must for the task at hand. Because in spite of a mishmash of G-Doc notes and wildly unorganized voice recordings on my phone, many of which apparently were conducted in the hour of the wolf, making chronological or even structural sense of what happened is a bit of a blur. Call it island time. Or call it the Fog of Gnar.
Or just call it a week in Jamaica for a cannonball right smack into the heart of the Tmrw.Tday Festival. As a multi-focus, multicultural wellness, music, art, and dance hootenanny, one can imagine the difficulty in distilling the experience, especially when it happens to be the first sojourn down to Irie country in 20 years for your humble servant here. But with enough mental jujitsu, I’m able to untangle the tapestry of the week, presented here in a journalistic mosaic; a sort of impressionistic take on a traditional dispatch from paradise. It’s starting to come into focus…
Where I Gwan Here, Exactly?
Geographical backdrops are the first images dissolving into frame. Montego Bay, Orange Hill, and greater Westmoreland. And there was at least one minor panic attack after being handed the keys to a new comrade’s rental car at sundown; a cheery experiment in left side road driving to find the area’s lone ATM still dispensing money in order to avoid a humid 40 minute walk along Norman Manley Boulevard the main drag flanking the heavenly (if tourist-plagued) Seven Mile Beach just north of downtown Negril. That one’s hard to forget.
Putting it all together requires more digging in the mental dust pile: Where was I heaving myself off of a perilous spring water cave naturally carved into the earth, with the turquoise water and the specter of death at every leap? Where was that house in the cliffs I joined a small, crew of colorful strangers led by a husband-and-wife team of plant-medicine scientists for guided psychedelic social hours? And where was the private rental they had for the week, where I tagged along to after the magic mushroom ceremony, snacking on conch fritters and Red Stripe Lite (I try to watch calories during any controlled research-based psychedelic journey) eventually having a good 3–4 grams of Amazonian mushroom-dosed chocolates through the night courtesy of my hospitable hosts? Was I in front of my hotel when I was alone on a beach chair under a single overhead safety light at 3 a.m. at the end of the night? Yes, that I remember. And, being awash in bliss while listening to bootleg Miles Davis recordings and, thanks to the handling by the couple with deep knowledge of psychedelic and cannabis science inre: dosing and effect, was in no threat of the stuff turning on me until my 8th grade Algebra teacher can visibly be observed riding trumpet-wielding sand serpents from under my lounger and right up my shorts. That can be a risk sometimes. But no, it was just a nice ride.
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