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I love music. I come from a line of musicians. My father has a mariachi, his dad did also and so do a few of my uncles. While I was always too thick-headed to learn how to play an instrument (not for the lack of trying I spent 4 unsuccessful years in Band class), I have always appreciated their sound. I am listening to piano music as I write this, funny.

Because of my love for music, my dreams are often filled with sound. On many occasions, I have woken up humming a familiar tune while having completely forgotten the content of the dream. While as an adult these tend to often be songs I have been listening to too much of, when I was a kid, they would be completely original pieces that I had never heard before. Part of why I wanted to learn an instrument was to recreate the songs from my childhood dreams.

Because music is powerful.

It can be a time machine.

When I listen to Breaking Benjamin’s Evil Angel I am immediately transported to my teenage years when I would spend sleepless nights reading One Piece chapters. I can see the fight between Luffy and the Thunder God, despite no longer being able to remember his name.

When I was ten or so, I heard a song I had never heard before. It was played by a violin and it was beautiful. It was a sound that I can only describe as melancholic, almost feudal. For the next week, I was obsessed with it. I would hum it constantly, fearful that if I didn’t I would forget it. Every night I hummed it to sleep hoping to hear it again, unbastardized by my 10-year-old pipes.

I soon understood that I had no control over the music box in my dreams. Defeated, I let it go. I would still hum it every once in a while, but I realized that I would never dream it again.

Years passed, I grew up, failed at learning to play the violin, and graduated high school, but I still loved music. But I loved other things too; namely, psychedelics. While I was blazing through grad school, on my off time my high school buddies thought it was the funniest thing in the world to get together and do shrooms or LSD. A break from the fast-paced life of graduate papers. I remember one time getting so messed up that I sat in the corner for all of 5 minutes thinking I had been there millennia traveling through the universe.

On one special occasion, a week before graduation, and two months before the beginning of my career, I decided to go out with a bang. My friends and I loaded up on dabs, shrooms, and LSD and took off to the middle of the woods for a crazy camping trip.

It started wonderfully from what I can remember, one guy had never taken dabs before and ended up stoned enough to try imitating the way the fire moved for a good 15 minutes. I started with weed, then ate a few mushrooms, then decided I felt fine enough to mix LSD in.

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That is when I heard a gunshot.

In retrospect, it was probably some jerk illegally hunting in the higher parts of the mountain, but my ass was so high that it sent me into a panic. I was jumping around screaming and freaking everyone out. I was later told that I was yelling unintelligible nonsense about police brutality and a secret death squad. Jesus. The two friends who had pulled the sober straw had to hold me down to prevent me from hurting myself or anyone else, eventually calming me down enough for me to fall asleep.

I remember dreaming of blackness. I felt nothing, and I could see nothing.

But I could hear, ever so softly, a tune. I struggled to focus on it, like switching to a radio station while it is in the middle of a song you know but takes you a second to recognize. It began to get louder, closer, and then there it was. The long-forgotten song from my childhood dream was perfectly replicated as if it were the first time. I couldn’t even think. I felt like a tool created by the song for appreciation.

As it got louder though, my vision began to return. At this point, the sound was so loud it was all I could hear, but my focus was perfect.

Normally in dreams, I cannot focus on small details, someone’s eyes, or a coin in my hand; but this was clear, I could see everything. To my surprise, I was in my parent’s house. But it was different, it was…. taller. I began to walk around and realized how close I was to the ground. I was a child! I began to feel that familiar panic of my mind wanting to suck me out of a lucid dream while I struggled against it, but this dream was strong enough to keep me anchored and that feeling quickly went away. I realized that I could pick things up. I was in my old toy room, seeing toys I had not thought about in over fifteen years in vivid detail. I picked up an old The Flash action figure and ran my fingers down the side of his left leg. I had once stuck him between the back tire of my bike and the chain to make a cool motorcycle sound, only to realize afterward that the sound was a result of the chain grinding away at the plastic, leaving groves on his left leg. Groves I could feel as if I was wide awake.

I was so focused on The Flash that I did not notice a pair of eyes looking at me from outside the room; it was my younger brother. Oh my god. He was a child. No older than four.

My younger brother began doing drugs at a much younger age than I did and with less reputable people. By the time he was 14 he had already been expelled from school numerous times, by 16 he got his first DUI (he got high, took my dad’s truck without asking without knowing how to drive stick, and crashed it two blocks down the road into two different parked cars then zigzagged his way back leaving a trail of oil that was too easy to follow). After that arrest, he was in and out of jail, taking money from me, my parents, and my sister. Finally landing in state prison when he stole a state vehicle. While I understand that I ultimately cannot control the actions of others, I always felt like we had been just a little too hard on him, and that I had failed him as an older brother.

But there he was, innocent and pure as an untouched grove. I had forgotten how much bigger his head was from his tiny body when he was a kid, I used to tease him a lot about that. I used to tease him about a lot of things. He was giving me that half-pleading look that meant he wanted to ask me something he knew I would say no to. I slowly walked toward him, trying to stay composed. The last thing I wanted was for him to see me burst into tears. He said something, but I couldn’t hear him. I realized that the music was still playing, loud as ever, it had just blended into the background when I realized where I was.

I woke up to my friends shaking me. The ride home was quiet. I told no one what happened. They didn’t ask many questions.

I don’t do drugs anymore. I got high a few more times after that night and as soon as I would I could see his eyes. As silly as this sounds, I am convinced that I traveled in time. I have had lucid dreams before and it is like comparing pong to 4k definition. More accurately, it is like comparing TV to real life. I could feel my brother’s hair on my cheek when I hugged him. I could see the shade of yellow our old washing machine was outside of the toy room. I tasted my tears.

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