7.15.2014

A Long night's Journey Into Day

  
All circumstances can be attributed to the Laws of Nature. My brain had put its foot down, and decided that we were gonna stand up. And without any help from me, there I was, standing. Embarrassed, I decided to start moving. Snowblind and soused to the gills, I headed for what I assumed was the door. It was a large, person-sized rectangle outlined by whatever unforgiving light was behind it. I walked efficiently, with my arms raised slightly as a precautionary balancing mechanism. Even still, I felt eyes on me. I looked up and feigned eye contact with the two people I passed - both men. I offered them both a slight nod as I passed - neither of them returned the gesture. But I was right - they were staring at me. Blankly. Stupidly. The first guy looked like the father of every girl I've ever dated. The other looked like Muddy Waters - dressed like him and everything. It just made me move faster. I used my body weight rather than my hands to force the door open. Never has it been more appropriate or literal to dribble that old phrase, "it was like night and day!" My skin tightened as I immediately began to thaw and sweat the moment I stepped off that cold, distant planet and walked directly into the sun. Like your average junkie, I felt like clawing and biting and crying and pissing my way through this horrible detox. But I didn't. I couldn't. I stood frozen in some stupid pose like and action figure. I was aware and lucid enough to understand that I had no idea where I was. Nothing looked familiar from this angle. If I'd been a passer-by, these shapes and colors might jog my geographical memory, but for now, I was forced into making some kinda plan, which I was in no mood for. Whatever plan lay ahead was gonna lack any nuance or long-term solution. That was okay, though. Everything was okay - I had to hold onto that. Funny, I was out in the world and still had a mild sense of lovely privacy. Every window on every building was congested with humming air conditioners. Cars flew past at 60 miles per hour, spraying rap beats along the road. Their attention, I felt, could only be focused on the road ahead, maybe paired with whatever lyrics these guttural beats carried.
   So, there I stood, comfortably sheltered by my closed eyes. It wouldn't have been impossible for me to fall asleep right there on my feet. I let my mind float away from this anxious reality, and after some time - anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes - my body followed. I started to feel human again, but I couldn't take the chance of opening my eyes. Not yet. There was the gruesome possibility that seeing my surroundings again would send me right back to the beginning. Like a jail break, I was gonna have to wait for just the right moment, then book it. Soon my mind began to wander and dance around other things - unrelated trivia. This was good. The fact that my mind independently got fed up with this bullshit seemed full of promise. So, on my own, I had to make the decision to do whatever came next. The irony was because I knew I was unable to make any long-term plans, I knew I had to go back inside. And not just because I couldn't think of any other destination, but I sharply and actually felt positive about it - maybe blindly so, and maybe that's what brought me here in the first place. I justify it now more than I did in the moment - in real time I was already diving back in. The sweat immediately cooled and dried. The two men I had seen on my way out were somehow no longer there, which filled me with a bizarre sense of victory. I crept back into comfort, actually pleased with the rough way of the world. Crooks crooking, hookers hooking. The ghost of Tom Joad was there, and I thought of Dean Moriarty.

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