Stash Box

My Best High of 2016

In the midst of a tough year, a moment of ecstatic reflection.

Illustration by James the Stanton

I think we can all agree on one thing: 2016 was an asshole of a year. I don’t need to list the incredible artists and cultural icons we lost, or the terrible events that passed. There are too many. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the best high I had this year, because it was beautiful and special and stands out like a glittering star against a vast black sky.

In June, for the Summer Solstice, my band was invited to play a pagan music festival called Thirst for Light. It featured metal bands, experimental acts, and vagabond troupes of musicians, artists, and other weirdos, cavorting around bonfires and generally living it up in the middle of nowhere. Each night the music would last well past sunrise (which you can see starting around 3:30 a.m.). This year we were blessed with a big, fat full moon for a few of the nights we were out there, auspicious for those who consider such things.

It was all reed-filled meadows and hulking old-growth forests around the property, so one night, when the moon was high and bright above us, my lover and I snuck away from the glow of the fires and set out to find a place to be alone.

We rolled a joint with a blend of Lemon Haze and Northern Lights and headed out, the strains of music fading behind us. In true Pacific Northwest fashion, it rained on and off daily, leaving the forest wet and glistening. Crossing the threshold of the farm into open territory, I gasped. The fields before us shimmered with a rising mist, turned silver by the full moon overhead. Fog curled around us as we made our way down a gravel road, the only sounds our feet crunching on the rocky path, our breath, and occasionally the croaking of a frog. We made our way around a bend, our eyes adjusting to the mercurial light, and headed up and into the trees, our fingers trailing over the heads of waist-high grasses, wet and heavy with dew.

Making our way to the top of a rise, we ended up on a small ridge just above the fog, able to look down on the festivities below, a clear black sky filled with stars above us. I lit our joint and drew in deeply, enjoying the dank citrus flavor, letting the smoke trail out of my mouth, watching it blend with the mists before rolling away. I smiled as I watched bobbing headlamps and lanterns wink through the trees while people picked their way through the dripping forest. I inhaled deeply—not just the good herb or the smell of wet earth or the taste of the living forest around me.

I breathed in my life. My wonderful friends with whom I was sharing a fantastic adventure. My amazing band, whom I had played with around a giant bonfire two nights before. My loving partner who supports me in all my crazy projects. The magic and horror of what it is to be alive in 2016. The very fabric of time and space seemed to flicker and quiver around us. I could feel the fragility of that moment. Perhaps we laid down in the tall grass, all spangled with tiny raindrops, baring ourselves before the moon and all the gods and goddesses; perhaps we just snuggled to stay warm. I’ll let readers finish the story as they like.

Here’s to a better 2017.

stashbox@seattleweekly.com