When he showed me the little white pill, small as a baby aspirin, I couldn't imagine the power it would have over me.
I was 25, a very young 25, and madly in love with someone I couldn't spend a day with without getting into a massive blowout. And we were living together. And it wasn't going well.
"Come on, Erica. Let's try this together," Matt said. "Everybody says this stuff is magic. It'll blow your mind."
"I don't want my mind blown. I just want to fix us."
He gave me a puppy-eyed look, then downed his pill. And I took mine. Besides, I loved the word: ecstasy. It had been quite some time since I'd been ecstatic.
We kept to our plan: we would go for a long drive, then get a nice dinner somewhere. It was a cold fall night, and we drove out to this cozy restaurant I knew that had a fireplace.
It hit us both at the same time. The moment the waitress walked away with our food order, I felt a wave of something beautiful pass over and through me, like I had become warm melted chocolate. Matt took my hand and stared into me with pupils no doubt as large as mine.
"My God," he said, "do you feel that?"
We proceeded to talk more openly with each other than perhaps we ever had, and I never felt so close to him. We also became very aroused. When the food arrived we asked that it go straight into doggie bags.
"I want to do you right here," he whispered after the waitress left to pack up our food. "Right here, right now."
I can't remember ever feeling so turned on. We got in the car and parked in the first parking lot we found—it was too far to go home!—and I took off all my clothes and got on top of him in the driver's seat, draping myself with this huge faux fur coat I had worn. After a few minutes of going at it, we heard someone rapping hard against our car window.
Like a two-headed beast, we both turned slowly toward the noise.
It was a cop.
You see, we had pulled over and parked—(wait for it)—in a police station parking lot.
Faces flaming, laughter erupting, we scrambled to extricate ourselves from each other. Even the cop looked embarrassed, shaking his head and looking away as we collected ourselves. How in God's name—our pupils round as orbs—he didn't nail us for taking drugs I'll never know, but the fact was, the only drugs on us were in us.
As much as the police parking lot gaffe cramped our drug experimenting style, we were inspired to try ecstasy again, even though the hangover was one of the more hellish experiences of my life. Matt liked the sex—we both did—but I loved the talking more than anything else.
I thought this drug was going to make us a couple. As long as we had a truth serum in a little pill, we'd be all right.
Problem was, it wasn't so great the second time around. This time we decided we'd load up and not leave the bedroom for the weekend. The high hit us at different times, so even though we had a bit of fun, it wasn't at all like the first time.
But the fifth, and final time, drove the nail in the coffin for Matt and me. We'd been fighting like banshees (Didn't everyone? Wasn't this what they meant by "relationships are hard work"?) and even as we drove the hour and half down to our favorite beach on the South Shore of Massachusetts, a feeling of foreboding had come over me, and him as well. I could see it in his eyes.
We held hands as we walked down the boardwalk to the sea. It was an overcast, humid summer day, with barely any sea breeze even when we reached the shoreline. Facing the waves, we popped our little pills, then lay down on our towels … and waited.
The rush came on us quickly this time, and we got to our feet and hugged each other. I waited for the gush of words, of love, of closeness, of profound mutual understanding, that feeling of being at peace with the universe. Instead, I just felt vacant.
"I think I need to take a walk," I said.
"OK," he said, following me as I started to amble along the shore.
"Alone, I mean."
He cocked his head. "You're right, I think I need to be alone too."
And so, we proceeded to wander the beach in totally different directions … for the next five hours. Somehow, around dusk, we found each other back at the car where we settled in for the long, silent ride home.