Chapter 12: John Paul

I reached a dark stretch of path, and pulled out my phone to call my mother. Then a gentle but concerned voice came out from the line of tents and a dark figure walked towards me.

“Can you help me? My friend is lost.”

I too felt lost, but in a different way. A bit of relief came to me though as my planned confession was suspended for a legitimate reason. “Sure,” I said. “I have a map of the campground on my phone.”

With his friend on his phone, I pulled up the map on my phone. With just the glow of our phones, we stood together in solemn peace, talking to his friend and navigating her home.

“What’s your name?” I asked in the first moment of silence.

“John Paul.”

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have thought much about it, but after the events that just happened, his name shook me to the core.

It was unspoken, but I felt an intensely strong camaraderie with this stranger. Like those in the crowd, he felt like a sibling to me in this moment. A brother.

“You’re not going out to the festival either?” I asked.

“No, I had a bit too much ketamine. Think I just want to take it easy from here.” he said tiredly. The way he said it, it made me feel like he too had felt some remorse about his behavior.

The dots were starting to connect. My friend who wanted to call his mother during a bad trip. My friend at MysteryLand who saw Jesus. The man in front of me crying bitterly. John Paul. The visions I had. This was pointing to something far bigger. I wasn’t buying that I “just had a bad trip.”

It then made me realize there was a sense of togetherness out here in the campground. I was expecting to be alone out here, but there were others. We all seemed penitent and regretful, but it was real. It’s not the fake, temporary happiness that I felt inside at the festival, but it was remorseful people who seemed to be looking for answers. This was truly John Paul I was seeing, not the “party John Paul.” I didn’t want to be anywhere else in that moment. It was peaceful.

I reunited John Paul with his friend. I shook his hand and in that moment it didn’t feel like a goodbye. I felt like I would see him again. Perhaps not in this life, but somewhere.

Feeling a natural high, a true high, from helping someone, I then realized I had seriously sobered up. It made me realize how the drugs had really subsided when I mentally was starting to see them for what they really were: distractions pulling me away from being the real me, not a drugged version of myself.

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