Technicolor

I’m still having a hard time believing this is real.  

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky, I had a small but close-knit group of friends.  One of our favorite pastimes on evenings and weekends was to smoke copious amounts of pot.  I’m not particularly proud of that fact, nor am I ashamed of it; it was something we did, and we did in great abundance.  It was an escape, particularly well-suited to being a young adult in the sleepy confines of Lexington, Kentucky, a small city with an anemic nightlife and few opportunities for better entertainment.

On rare occasion, we would also try other drugs, but these were far and few between.  On a handful of occasions one of my friends procured sativa, which is a helluva drug.  We tried mushrooms once or twice, but they never did a damn thing for me, since I couldn’t keep them in my stomach.  I still remember the wretched taste, both going down and, inevitably, coming back up.

On two occasions, I had the chance to try LSD.  On one of those occasions- the first time, in fact- I had what I believed was a singular experience: I saw red.

As I have discussed previously in these pages, I have been colorblind since birth.  It’s not an eye thing, it’s a brain thing.  Something about that acid trip temporarily fixed it.  For the twelve hours or so that I was tripping, I could see red very distinctly from the gray/green it had always appeared to me.  It was a truly memorable experience.

It has been fifteen years since that time, and my life is much different.  I don’t smoke pot anymore.  That isn’t for any reason of moral judgment, or because I made some personal-responsibility choice to give it up: in the years between then and now, it started affecting me differently, and the high wasn’t fun anymore.  I gave it up entirely during law school for that reason, and don’t smoke today.  I also don’t use any other illicit drugs; as it turns out, the moderate consumption of alcohol gives me everything I need as far as altered consciousness goes.

This summer, a group of my friends planned a weekend getaway, and a few of them decided to trip some acid.  With an attitude of eh, why the hell not? I agreed to join them.  I paid my ten bucks, and got my hit of acid, this one somehow contained within a sugar cube.  As it turned out, I was sick that weekend- as were a few other attendees-, so I didn’t end up doing it.  I took it home instead.

Which brings my story, at long last, to Labor Day weekend.  By some miracle of oversight, I had not a thing planned for it, and decided I would give the acid hit a try.  I don’t want to spend this space glorifying drug use too much, but I will dutifully report that it was a worthwhile, very positive experience.  In particular- and this is what I want to tell you about- I could see red again.  And orange.  And purple.  And pink, brown, turquoise, copper, gold, lavender.  Everything.  It was brilliant.

Just as before, the high lasted about twelve hours, after which I promptly went to sleep.  When I woke up the next morning, the color still hadn’t faded, and didn’t throughout the day.  I figured it was a residual effect.

The following morning, as I had suspected, it was gone.  I woke up to my regular world of five colors, and took a long, hot shower.  I put my contact lenses in, and just then, I caught a flare of color in my peripheral vision.  I blinked heavily twice, and felt the colors rushing back into my perception.  It was back.

That was eleven days ago.  It hasn’t wavered since.

I am increasingly convinced that this is not a temporary phenomenon, and that my color vision is here to stay.  I took one of those color tests online, and aced it.  It appears that I can now distinguish colors just as the majority of people do.  It has been two weeks since that acid trip, and I don’t think this is the result of any lingering chemicals in my system.  I think the LSD fixed my color perception.

The few people with whom I have confided this story always want to know what it’s like to suddenly have enhanced color vision.  The best way I can describe it is that the world seems like those old movies and television shows, when technicolor was new and everything was super-saturated.  You can get used to it, and stop noticing it after awhile, but when it’s pointed out, you think “oh yeah, that is a bit odd…”

I would also like to observe, as a color-vision newbie, that orange is a ridiculous color.

I’m  heading to the Met tomorrow, to visit a dear friend and to see some of my favorite works of art with a newly-enhanced spectrum.  I anticipate a surreal experience.

A few hours of Google research revealed that this phenomenon has been frequently reported by people before, but there are no studies or research papers out there.  As LSD is not approved for any medical use, it has not been studied.  Most of the references are “I have a friend who…” or “some people have reported…”  I haven’t seen any good, solid firsthand accounts.  So I decided to write one.  Thanks for reading it.

~AG

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Published in: on September 15, 2017 at 8:49 pm  Comments (1)  
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