It’s 4 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, and I am not in any kind of mood to travel hungover, particularly all the way to Los Angeles with my parents. Growing up in a secluded area of Baltimore, MD, it was no shock that I would run into someone I knew at the airport. That being said, my neighbor Ben ended up in the same security line as me.

“Tucker and I are having a Xanax party for our flight to Colombia!”, Ben cheers, nudging his friend.

I too had Xanax, but was originally planning on eating my precious bars in desperate times in need to escape my family for the week or catch up on sleep. But, Ben had given me an even better idea, and I decide that I might as well join the Xanax party and take them all now.

I plan it out perfectly in my head: I would take 3 bars of Xanax right after our first flight from Baltimore to Charlotte, North Carolina once my mom and my dad had dozed off. I would sleep for a few hours, wake up, and land safely in California. I board the flight; so far so good; and my parents immediately shut their eyes. I pop the bars under my tongue and wait patiently for the effects to kick in.

I sit, fingers tapping, feet kicking together, for what seems like a while. Impatient, I close my eyes for about ten seconds. And finally— much like the rush of getting hit with laughing gas— I open my eyes and feel a relaxing-sort-of-feeling that coursed through my veins. Inhaling deep, I am loopy, higher than that big-eyed rabbit from the Trix cereal boxes.

Woah, I think to myself, I am definitely barred out.

I exit the plane in Charlotte.

“Have a nice trip!” the flight attendant cooes to me, her red lipstick looking pristine, waving her arm as if she were in a beauty pageant. “You too!” I gleam my biggest smile back at her, freakishly swinging my hands over my head, my arms feeling disconnected from my body. I feel my head begin to explode like a balloon, swelling much bigger than the rest of my body. I waltz over to the terminal, completely unaware of the airport around me, especially ignoring my parents, who I’m sure are more than concerned about me by this point. I feel my body glide across the airport terminal, floating through the B7 gate onto the plane with the rest of the patrons. From this point on I blackout on the plane, not regaining memory (or what it seems like, consciousness) for the entire duration of the flight.

Eventually, we land the plane, get off, and wait for our bags at the LAX airport baggage claim. Unable to hold my body up, I teeter to the right, bumping into something firm, to what I then realize is an alarmingly gigantic man, most likely a professional athlete. “Ok!” I say out loud, and shift my body to the left, trying not to hit the professional athlete with my uncontrollable body movements. He tries to ignore my inability to stand up straight, staring at his phone to avoid eye contact with me as I saunter away from the baggage claim.

My next clear memory after the baggage claim was not until after we had gotten in our rental car. My speech comes back into control as we pull up to our beach house.

“We’re here already?” I slur from the back seat, assuming no one can notice how fucked up on Xanax I am.

“Yeah, sweetie, we’re here. Don’t you remember?” my mom stares at me, nervously.

“Uhhh, what?”

“Do you know where we are?”

“Yeah, what?…” I trail off, making it clear to her that I have no idea what she’s talking about. By now, I’m so strung out that I am blind to anything or anyone that tries to make contact with me. In fact, I am so strung out, I don’t even realize I’m strung out anymore— everything is a piece of cake as far as I’m concerned.

Our family enters the house, giving a warm welcome to my aunt and uncle, except for me, in which I basically ignore them after walking in the door. I gyrate outside the main house and into the guest house where my parents are staying. Once I get to the porch, I realize I’m locked out. I turn to my right, eyes glazed over, to what I conclude is a very attractive male. Similar to my gestures on the plane, I wave my hands over my head, making noise, convinced that this was the proper way to call someone over/ attempt to talk to a boy. “Hey!” I scream. The boy cocks his head, a blank stare, not understanding what I’m trying to say. I stop and stare at the boy, for what seems like at least thirty seconds only to realize:

This boy has boobs.

I stare longer.

This boy is not a boy at all.

This boy is actually a middle-aged Mexican woman, coming in to clean the guest house attached to ours. I stop waving my hands. I stop trying to flirt. The Mexican woman continues to watch me, such as one would watch a rabid deer in broad daylight. I conclude that the freakish staring is due to her lack of ability to comprehend what I was saying, which quite frankly, neither could I. I sprint back to the main house. My mom and dad are standing outside when I arrive back.

“I, uh, I can’t, like, unlock the guest door.” My mom grabs me, holding my hand, and drags me back to the guest house.

“Maybe you should take a nap,” she says, softly. I find the first bed I can see. Using no muscle, I tip over, feet flying up, and fall asleep, finally coming down from my peak high.

The Xanax war has ended. I wake up the next morning at 5:45am, at first having no recollection of anything that happened the previous day. I walk upstairs and see my uncle, grandmother, and sister, whom I had no idea was even at the house.

“Hey guys!” I wave to everyone in the kitchen, assuming everything is fine as I fix myself a bowl of cereal.

“Ella, what?” my sister looks at me, bewildered once again. “Come talk to me downstairs.”

She and I go back into my bedroom, and she closes the door.

“What was wrong with you yesterday?!?,” she yells. I fall over laughing.

“Maddie, I took so much Xanax. I have no idea what happened yesterday. I didn’t even know you were here.”

“Do you not remember anything?”

“No… what happened?”

Taking out her phone, my sister lists a series of events during my blackout on the way to California that my mom had told my sister, including the following:

  • Leaving to go to the bathroom on the plane and not returning for 35 minutes
  • Crawling on my hands and knees of the plane floor (upon my mother asking me why I was doing this, I told her I was “looking for a scarf”)
  • Falling asleep standing up at the car rental service
  • Falling asleep standing up in the checkout line of the grocery store (who knew I even went to the grocery store once I got to California?!?)

I confessed to my parents about taking the Xanax, and they were not happy to say the least. They were obviously worried about me and my well-being, even before I took the Xanax, as well as during, after, and pretty much always. In the end, I had learned an important lesson: Don’t take Xanax on a family vacation.