September. When summer loses its teeth but not its heart. The leaves still so green I can smell it, dark in their cathedral arches and bright translucence in their sun-catching eaves.
I get a whiff of vertigo turning onto my road. Noteworthy because my road is wide and Wisconsin-flat, and because heights don’t do that to me–I’ve stood on Angel’s Landing and watched a yellow school bus caterpillar-crawl through the canyon.
No, the vertigo is because reality feels thin. It has this whole summer, whenever I’ve paused, after a collision of Buddhism, free time, self-reflection, and conversations with old friends. I just talked with TK in person for the first time since we both left town over 15 months ago. I think of her as an old friend despite knowing her for 20 months because we can do that time travel where no time has passed, that cliché where we’re different–knowing new things, having new memories, seeing new people–but we are still us.
Two blocks down a UPS truck turns onto my road, ruining the illusion…no, ruining the perception that the 200m I can see is 2D, that I could step out of this chair and put my foot down on the other side of the rise that blocks the view, that I wouldn’t be stepping on concrete or suburb or earth or Earth. That’s how I got the vertigo when I turned the corner–each pool of tree shade dark water, the defiant black sewer mouth in the bright, dry-aired sunshine the figurative rabbit hole.
And the universe isn’t helping. Or maybe I’m not helping. In a mindset ready to tip and motivated by talking with TK, I decide to do something I haven’t done enough of lately: put pen to paper. Both are available as I stand in my office eschewing work. Where to write? Outside the answer I knew 3 blocks ago when the ghost of the woods took up its current haunt. I’ll need a chair. A folding one is leaned against my bookshelf. Who left it there–me, or the universe? Stepping to the door, through the kitchen, I’ll want water just before spying a jug I filled yesterday. Outside, contemplating the accuracy of the caterpillar bus simile, I notice millipedes cruising beneath my feet. Yup, accurate. But the serendipity of all this strikes me. Someone is conspiring to unravel me. I think it’s me, looking for the temporary suicide at the bottom of meditation and the top of drug trips. I don’t ask the universe to let me in. I tell myself to let me out into it.
That’s the vertigo, feeling this close to standing on nothing solid, on something unknown, disoriented. The loss of directions like “up” and “west” and “the way back”.
Then again, home isn’t always behind you.