Ask Andrew W.K.: Should I Start Doing Heroin?

Photo by Aingeru Zorita
I groggily tried to pull myself together and make sense of where I was. What was I doing here? And why did it seem so familiar? The feeling I had during the dream was that I was emerging from amnesia. A deep sense of dread began to set in. I was in a dumpy living room with extremely grainy stucco walls painted mustard yellow with a single bare light bulb hung overhead, exaggerating the sandpaper texture of everything. It was low-lit, hazy, damp, and cold. The air smelled like dead skin cells and old oil.

I had been slumped in a bean-bag type chair, and as I tried to stand up and clear my head, I noticed other people hanging around the room. Some were asleep on shredded couches, others were looking at me from the corner of the room, and some were moving about in adjacent rooms. As I explored the space, it seemed we were in an old rectory attached to a small abandoned church. I figured that I was part of this group of crust punks who had converted the space into a crude music venue and communal living space. It became clear that I had been living here for a long time.I started to panic and desperately began asking people, "Where am I? What the fuck is going on? What happened?"

A young woman, half passed out in a ratty recliner, responded lazily, "Dude, what the hell are you talking about? Are you on acid or something?" I became more frustrated, like I couldn't snap out of it or remember how I got to this place. It felt like I had been asleep for years and was finally waking up and trying to piece my brain back together. A guy hunched over a table said, "Come on, Andrew. You're just freaking out. You've been here all along. You're just waking up from some nightmare. Stop freaking out."

It began to dawn on me that this place was my real life, and that my other "real" life had all been a fantasy -- just a dream I had. What I remembered as my real life was just a vision I experienced while I had nodded off in my bean bag in this flop house. It all came crashing back at once: I was a full blown drug addict, alternating between heroin and speed, and living in this house with a bunch of other addicts. I had never moved to New York City. I had never toured the world. I had never experienced so many awesome fun times.

It had all been a dream in the midst of this true nightmare reality. The sadness was overwhelming -- the most crushing sense of despair washed over my entire soul. I staggered around the rest of the house and into the church area where a bunch of people were working on setting up a show for later that night. I remembered back to the moment when I decided to just give up on myself and life. It had been so easy to just quit caring about everything. In fact, it had been euphoric. One step at a time, I had made my way deeper into this nightmare and further away from any ambitions or interests. My "real" life faded away like a blurry memory, and I felt stupid for ever having had any enthusiasm or motivation for anything.

Towards the end of the dream, I began to have a panic attack and actually started to pry open my eye in a desperate attempt to wake up. It worked, and I came back from the junkie nightmare to find myself rejoined with my actual life here in New York, where I still have friends and a family, and still play music and have fun doing all the stuff I've always loved to do.

Words cannot express how glad I was to be back. It was by far the happiest I've ever been upon waking from a nightmare. The closest comparison I have is the feeling that Scrooge must've had when he awoke from his night of ordeals and visions in A Christmas Carol. But the most frightening part of all was how close that other reality felt, even after I woke up. It seemed like maybe I actually was living a version of that life in some parallel universe, and that if I wasn't careful, I could slip into it again and never come back.

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