Smoking Salvia Divinorum at the turn of the century

It was a warm night. The stars bounded the endless sky. The ground was filled with miles of empty cornfields that have just been harvested for the year. Four teens raced down the road in a borrowed van from one of their parents. They were excited, nervous, and full of life. It was 2008.

I was just a punk little kid then – bleached blonde hair, a NOFX shirt, and a skateboard. I spent my days after school bleeding on the concrete and causing mischief with my close friends. I was 17 years old. I had little for responsibility.

My friends were close to me. How couldn’t you be close to your friends when you had almost unlimited downtime? When you got to spend weekends and entire school weeks together. It is a luxury adult don’t get to have. A lost luxury that disappears when you enter the workforce.

Worm was my best friend. I met Worm in third grade but really hit it off with him when we were freshmen. We were so close everyone always referred to us as one. It was me and Worm. The “Lotion Lads”. If I was in trouble Worm was in trouble.

My other close friend at the time was Slater. Slater and I were not as close as Worm. He had some weird social anxiety and body issues I never realized until I became an adult.

Sunny was the chick who always hung with my crew. She went back and forth between Worm and Slater as a girlfriend. Sunny and I always flirted with each other but never physically acted on anything. She was a cool chick. One of the guys. Was just as dumb and impulsive as us.

Before heading to our destination, we stopped at a gas station. Slater and Sunny went to the front counter to buy cigarettes and to distract the clerk. Worm and I went to the back to steal shit. We were little kleptos at the time. I stuffed energy drinks and candy bars into my hoodie. Worm grabbed a fountain drink cup and dumped candy in it before filling it up with frozen pop. That was a great way to steal, buy the pop and get all of the upside of what it’s filled with.

We didn’t steal because we needed the goods. We stole for the thrill. For the pure adventure of lining your pockets with junk you don’t need and walking out the door. Feeling your heart race as the gas station clerk looks you in the eyes when you walk out the automatic sliding glass door. There’s nothing like that feeling. It is indescribable.

Eventually we made it to our destination – an empty church parking lot. There is something about empty parking lots. A poetic feeling. They are like an empty starless sky at night. I’ve never had a bad time in an empty parking lot.

We came to the parking lot for one reason – to smoke salvia. Salvia, known scientifically as salvia divinorum, is a plant with psychoactive properties. When smoked you will trip balls. Literally trip over your nut-sack. Although, the high lasts around five minutes at best.

Back then you could legally buy salvia from gas stations. It was the first drug I did. I smoked salvia before smoking weed. I believe I smoked it before getting drunk too. It amazes me to this day how kids could buy it legally.

Worm and I were the guinea pigs, the first ones to smoke the stuff. We pushed the middle of a pop can inwards to make a valley to put the salvia. Then we poked holes in the newly formed valley with a thumbtack. Finally, we put a choke on the pop can by making a larger hole in the side. This was the first homemade pipe we ever made. The way we smoked illegal substances before we had the money to buy an actual bong. There were many more of these to come.

Smoking the shit was gross. It tasted like rotten ass. An awful taste. It was like sucking on a rotten fish gill. But it didn’t take long at all to feel it. Ten seconds after hitting the homemade pipe and you were gone.

I hit it first. Then Worm right after. You only needed one big hit. Light it up, hit the can, hold it in. And keep holding. Hold until you can’t hold it no more.

I looked at Worm in the eyes while we both held the smoke in our lungs. The parking lot was empty besides the van I borrowed from my parents. The sky was dark and magnificent. The moon and stars lit up the parking lot for us. I started to feel funny.

Suddenly, I burst out laughing. Worm’s face started to get red. He proceeded to laugh hysterically, spitting all over my face when the smoke he tried to hold in for so long finally made its way out of his lungs. Drool poured out of my mouth. Every time I smoked this shit it made me drool like a damn bull dog. I could have stopped the California drought with the amount of drool that came out of my mouth.

Before I knew it, I started running. Running and screaming. It was glorious. I have no idea why I was running or why I was screaming. The night enclosed around me. I felt all the bugs in the ground crunch under my running feet. Mud flew up, covering my beat-up shoes and cut up legs. The stars in the sky began to crash around me. I kept running.

Worm did the same thing. He ran with me. We ran and screamed at the top of our lungs. I’m not sure what he felt. I’m not even sure if I knew what I was feeling. It is an intense trip. You lose body control. You laugh hysterically. You see objects and people who don’t exist. It amazes me how gas stations sold this stuff to kids.

But as quickly as the high hits you, it goes away. It’s a five-minute trip at best. It’s probably good it doesn’t last hours. I think you would lose your mind.

Slater and Sunny were next. When Slater smoked the shit he just collapsed. Lost all body control. Just laid on the ground laughing. Worm humped Slater as they both laughed.

Sunny laughed and drooled. Worm and I fucked with her throwing our hands in her face while she had no idea what was going on. I believe she took off running into a field adjacent into the parking lot.

We repeated the session again and again until we ran out of salvia. I must have gotten high at least three times that night. My stomach ached from laughing so much. We were beat.

Eventually we had to call it a night. We were still kids at the time. Had a curfew and school the next day.

We got back in my mom’s van and I drove everyone back home. Slater was the first to be dropped off. He lived right down the road from the parking lot. Sunny was next. She also lived close to the parking lot. Worm lived fifteen minutes out of town on a lake. Eventually he made it back.

By the time I got home my parents were in the living room watching TV. My mom asked me how my night was. I replied, “pretty good. Just hung out and stuff.”

I then walked up to my room and opened my computer. My Yahoo Instant Messenger said I had an unread message from Worm. “Nigga,” is all the message said.




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