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The cold air pierced the skin on my face as I reached up to close the small contraption. I zipped my gray thrifted sweatshirt and crossed my hands into my armpits, quickly uncrossing as I needed to sanitize before anything more could be considered. I mean how often are those vents wiped down? Once a day, if that? I know, people say not to over sanitize because then you don’t get the “good bacteria” but I can’t risk it. This trip is important. Though, I’m not sure why yet.
I bent down to grab the Bose headphones from my smaller-than-usual leather bag and placed the left one in my ear as I scrolled to the manifestation podcast I’d downloaded the night before. The door closed which I took as confirmation that the middle seat would remain open on this flight, which somehow reinforced my feelings that I was on the right path.
You see, I’m 25, and have never been spontaneous. The thought of navigating through life without a plan seemed ludicrous. Until recently. I’d been on my third date that week… we walked along La Brea and grabbed some suspect street tacos, which surprisingly, melted in the mouth. “Damn,” I thought, “I need to have tacos more.”
Don’t worry, this isn’t the spontaneity I’m referring to.
After the date (which I’d give a C-), I made my way back to Echo Park, to my studio apartment feng shui’d with two fake plants and a single “painting” from my three-year-old nephew. As soon as I grabbed the green metal railing to walk up the stairs, my hand flung off and I spread my fingers, looking down at my palm. I was convinced I’d touched wet paint, then quickly realized it was sweat… a lot of sweat. I put my other palm out and confirmed the clamminess matched. I suddenly felt as though my body was made of jello and peered back down at the stairs which now looked like I was standing in the ocean. I clenched the railing with both hands and slowly moved my feet, somehow stepping down on something solid, while watching the salty waves crash through my knees. I felt like I was dreaming but knew I wasn’t. My hands and feet continued to trudge forward until I made it to the second floor, and just like that, the waves were gone, but the gray walls were moving in different directions, including towards me.
“Okay,” I thought aloud with a deep breath… “only eighteen steps to your apartment.”
Somehow in this blunder of unconsciousness, I managed to fumble my way to the front door. The normally beige rectangle had turned into a tunnel, or maybe a chute of sorts; my brain was slipping in and out of reality while I managed to slide the silver key into the slot and turn the knob with my moist hand. What was happening? Did my date drug me? What was this?
Before I could try and solve the mystery of how my stairs turned into waves, my feet were moving towards the bedroom. What would normally hold an average queen mattress with a tan comforter was a now a jungle oasis. I no longer had just two fake plants – I was surrounded by large indigenous trees holding bananas; white flowers with purple flecks the size of my head were pulsing, bushes with red and yellow berries seemed to keep regenerating, orchids were coming out of the moss growing vertically, and giant water lilies lay afloat in the river, all engulfed in an endless sea of green.
I saw a dim light far away and decided to follow along, as the spiky sunflowers near my feet were nodding and pointing in approval. As I strode down the path, I realized my shoes were off and my feet were no longer touching the ground. I was floating. My legs were hastily moving like I was riding a bicycle until I quickly ran out of breath. I closed my eyes and squeezed my entire body, bracing for a drop onto a giant water lily… to my surprise, I started going higher up until I was actually flying alongside the tallest trees.
“Hello, Charlie!” I shouted and waved to a dense shrubby tree. Somehow I knew its name and somehow this didn’t surprise me. I continued through the sky as the smell of plant moisture began wafting through my nose, which wasn’t unpleasant. The light grew more clear each second until I was hovering above an illuminated circular enclosure. I wished to be on the ground and just then, my feet hit the shimmering white sand that emanated warmth. But not just in temperature. There was something about this sand that warmed my entire body in a way that slowed my heart rate, in a way that made the sweat on my body evaporate, in a way that made me see and appreciate everything I’d overcome.
I lifted the bronze clasp and stepped inside the bright entrance. I couldn’t see anything outside of the beaming light but I was sure this was right. Within moments, I was lying on a cloud of shapeless velvet; the brightness dimmed into a soothing shade of lavender and I noticed my hands for the first time since they touched the green railing. I spread my fingers again and appreciated the length and symmetry of my nails. I turned them over to see tiny glow worms looking up and smiling at me. They would tell me where to find the rest of them and I abruptly jolted into consciousness, running to the bathroom to vomit.
I watched the neon green substance swirl around the toilet bowl and knew this would be the last time I puked anything into this b… oh… wait, no, there’s more.
Once I was sure all the glittering green vomit was out of my system, I brushed my teeth and finished my shower. I stared into the mirror contemplating the talking trees I was so sure were real… I missed Charlie already. I didn’t bother to consider how my altered state came about because the result would change my life.
So, I booked a flight, tossed my laptop on the ground, pulled the beige sheet under my chin and drifted off.
. . . two days later . . .
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Please ensure your safety belts are fastened as we prepare for landing.”
Six bathroom trips, three podcasts, two movies, a new script, 29 hours later, and I’d arrived. This time, my heart rate remained calm without the white shimmering sand. I was ready for an adventure.
To be continued…
Committed To Curiosity