August 12, 1998

Views From Metropolis

1998

Wendy M. Pfeiffer

Part 8 in a Series

I open my eyes and look out the window. Dirty grey clouds partially
obscure squat brown ripples of earth. A stranger sits on either side of
me, and it is cold, very cold. A man is coughing, and there are loud
thrumming sounds filling my head, vibrating in my chest. Where am I? This
place is not familiar! Who are these people?

I begin to breathe shallowly, quickly. My heart is pounding. Suddenly I
am hot, and dizzy. I think maybe my chest has collapsed completely. What
is the matter with these people? Why are they moving so slowly, when we
are obviously about to die? Where am I?

O.K., O.K. Obviously, I am travelling. I am on a plane, flying from
somewhere, to somewhere else. I must be going home, I have that sense. Oh
god. Where do I live? What time is it? Where is home? Wait, this is a
familiar feeling. I've had this before. Let's see, what did Dr. K. tell
me to do....count my breaths, think about a loved one? Jeff, he's
wonderful, he'll be at the gate to pick me up, he's promised to always do
that. What if I die? What if I don't make it to the gate? The gate, what
city is it in? Breathe, focus, breathe....

Yes, that's it, I know that I always go home to San Jose. No....I don't
live there, I live by the beach. I am building a wall to protect our
sandcastle. A little boy is walking around the turrets, and I am afraid he
will accidentally smash into something and the castle will crumble. Who
would build a castle made of sand, anyway? Oh....yes! I live in L.A. We
live there now. Breathe, focus, breathe....

Jeff greets me. He can tell something's wrong. He walks me to a quiet
place, and holds me. We walk to the car...all of the airport construction
making the landsaape crazy, frightening. He is talking...I pretend to
listen. I laugh at something he says...he is trying to be funny. I am
o.k. This tunnel vision will recede. Act normal. Act normal. Traffic,
lines and lines of cars. Red tailights, inch by inch. Where am I?

We round a corner, and there it is! There, on an average street, in my
hometown, looking perfectly natural, is an African elephant. She is
mugging for the cameras while a 300 pound swami examines his unicycle. The
flares look like cherry sparklers as the fog rolls in from the ocean. Of
course! I am home! I am here in this place where my dreams meet reality.
In just that instant, Jeff says, "We live here!"

Of course, what he doesn't know is, I always have.

At least, that's the view from here.



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