Today I am here exactly when I need to be here. 5 minutes early. 7:55. A bus blocks me from my usual entrance. The sun has not yet risen and they are happy I’m here. The instructors. The teachers. The bus driver. I’m the final one. We can leave now. They are relieved they no longer have to wait. Eager for action, they rush me on board so we can take off.
Today we’re having a field trip. Who cares where. It’s an escape from the mundane day to day routine. I’d much rather be on this bus to an unknown destination than stuck in that damp brown dimly lit building. Listening to the mumbles of regurgitated stories and false interpretations. Fighting the impulse to close the windows and wander to another land. Middle school classrooms. No thanks.
I spot Eliot on the bus. I am so happy. Thinking about it makes me happy. Really happy.
It’s 7:58 and we are on the road. Through the woods. Over the bridges. To those familiar concrete cities. They are sunny and white. Sterile. There are no trees in sight, as if anyone’s even looking. I have to wear sunglasses for protection. Instinctively. Or, at least, as instinctive plastic eye shade can be.
We get out and take our tours through the museums. Nothing strikes me as unusual. Or interesting. I’m subconsciously in limbo so I let them lead me. Obey their rules. Submit to the talking clipboard. I suppose I blend in. Calmness shielding me from the danger that is recognition, lucidity, what I do not want right now.
With each stop, we get closer. Nearer. The sky is blue with just the right amount of cloudiness. Reflecting sunlight. Through the wilderness and desert. Green pillows of rolling hills. My chest flutters. I don’t know where we’re headed but I know its where we’re going to be. Where we need to be.
We come to a halt. We’re here. I know this area better than my classmates. Somewhere in New Mexico. Or is it New Orleans?
This place is magic. A beach. White crushing waves meeting the clouds in the distance. Blending together as one. We’ve reached infinity.
Time to shine. Show them around. I feel superior cause I’ve been here before.We’re on my turf. And they need me. Without me, they’d be lost.
I’ll let them get out ahead of me. Explore and dip their toes as I gather my things. My stuff. As I fumble, shuffle, and fight it. They are free. Breathing in that salty sub zero contradictory air.
Last time I was here, I swam in circles.Trying to get away. Away from land. Swimming in circles. My strokes became effortless and I began whirling around. And just when I thought I was lost, I found a tunnel. I stepped through. Getting familiar with the motion of walking again. Teaching myself to use my legs for stepping, not kicking. Heaviness.
The tunnel led to an escalator. I hobbled down the escalator and looked to my right. Fish tanks. I looked to my left. More fish tanks. I looked up. Fish tanks above me. Why are there so many fish tanks? What a strange place.This tunnel through the ocean. Why do you need fish tanks in the ocean? Or could I be misjudging this tunnel of fish tanks. Of course they look like fish tanks. I have been fooled. There never were any fish tanks. Quite the opposite.
The fish were actually holding me captive. Cutting off the door to my world. The dry world of air and land. This tunnel is a human tank. This is what I get for testing boundaries. This is what I get for swimming away from land. Swimming away from security. Now I am walking in captivity. I start to panic.
Nerves. Firing. Blood. Flowing. Eyes. Twitching. Eyes. Opening. I. am awake. I. am on land. I. am safe. It was just a dream. Just. A dream. I told myself.
But. I. am here again. Waiting to get off this bus. I’ve been here before. And this time its snowing.
I want to get off this bus. I can’t get off this bus until I gather my stuff. My stuff. My things. My baggage. My phone. My phone case. My bag. My shoes. Tie my shoes. Do all these things. You can’t leave the bus till you do all these things and grab all this stuff. Your stuff. You must carry it because it is yours. Don’t leave your stuff on the bus or else you may never see your stuff again. Your stuff will disappear. Your stuff will become someone else’s stuff. What are you without your stuff?
Ignore those thoughts. Let them pass. Feel them move through you. Entering. Exiting. Gone.
I don’t need my phone. Get off the bus now. Get off and explore. Be where you need to be.
Someone is on the beach digging a hole. There is no sand. Only icy bluffs. But it is a beach. It is a beach because there is ocean and there is waves. She’s digging through the ice. Drilling. She’s humming a familiar tune. She needs my help. Digging. Deeper. Deeper.
I am death, cried the vulture.
Gil Scot Heron. I know that song. That poem. I can’t remember the words.
Remember the words, Grace. She needs your help. Something something something-taking babies from their mamas. C’mon c’mon you know the words.
A bell rings. An alarm. Ding. I remember the words. That’s it. It has to be.
So if you see the vulture coming, flying circles in your mind.
Remember there is no escaping for he will follow close behind.
Only promise me a battle, battle for your soul and mine.