I got in around to lovely LAX around 11pm last night but didn’t make it home until 1:30am. There was mad traffic at the airport and our baggage took forever to arrive. I also forgot that it takes longer to fly West than it does East due to a thing called jet stream.
So, I sat uncomfortably squished for the 15-hour ride home between a lovely, old Swedish woman to my right who was meeting up a friend in Laguna Beach and to my left an obnoxious prick of a writer who wouldn’t hang up his cell phone even after two of the flight attendants on separate occasions had asked him to.
I loathe the middle seat more than anything. My seat preference is always the window so that I can lean and stare out to the nothingness of the skies and daydream and if I can’t have the window then the aisle so I can stretch my legs and get up to go to the restroom whenever I feel like it. Red eyes are the worse to have the middle seat. You don’t sleep well when you’re worried that you’ll start leaning on either person and if you need to pee you have to wake up the aisle person.
Cell phone man was still talking in the middle of take-off. I wanted to punch him and inform him that if the plane plummeted to the ground because his cell phone signal crossed with plane’s signal I would force him eat his phone before we crashed so that if he had survived he would have to painfully pass it. Instead, I held my tongue and smiled to the sweet woman to my right.
“Are you going or coming?” asked the elderly woman next to me.
I was in the middle of digging through my brand new, picked up on my Bangkok shopping spree, big enough to fit an infant, I-can-smell-the-leather-across-the-room granny purse , looking for my iPod. I really wanted to drown out Mr. Obnoxious to my left. My one track mind had only one mission and that was to quickly find my iPod.
“Excuse me?” I asked having not heard because the guy next to me was using his outside voice trying to speak over the engine roar.
“Are you from Thailand or just visiting?” she asked.
“Oh, I’m just visiting and on my way home to Los Angeles. My two-week trip eventually turned into a Gap year and now I’m ready to go home, take on some responsibilities and be a full-grown adult,” I said. “And yourself?”
She was about in her late 60s possibly early 70s. She was from an era when people dressed up to travel. Her hair was perfectly salon-coifed and she had on her best clothes. I noticed her grandmotherly perfume scented of roses and soap. Every time she shifted, I would get an intimate waft of her personifying scent.
“I’m from Sweden, moved here decades ago and have never called anywhere else home. I’m meeting up a friend in Laguna Beach. Do you know where that is?”
How I missed home. I couldn’t wait to get back and at that moment I was so proud to call Southern California my home. Born and raised, there was no other place I’d rather call home, well, maybe except Bangkok, Thailand, which has been home for the past year.
All these people come to LA and make fun of it and talk about how much they hate it here. Go back home then. We don’t need your sorry asses to take up space on the freeways and make our rent higher. Stop in the influx. Rarely, do I ever feel proud to be a native Angeleno but at that moment I embraced it.
“It’s in Orange County about 45 minutes from Los Angeles. It’s a nice place but nothing compared to the beaches in Thailand,” I said informatively.
She smiled. There was a brief moment of silence and I seized the opportunity to make my way out of the conversation because it was already past midnight and I had had a very exhausting week.
Mr. Loud Voice was still talking so I hurriedly found my iPod and plugged the buds into my ear to drown out his incessant ramblings as he began talking about a magazine article he was working on about a sunken submarine out in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand.
Even then, I still wasn’t interested.
I was out cold before the plane could even finish its take-off. I fell into a deep slumber.
Location: unknown, exotic locale
Time: dusk, storm brewing
People: hundreds, unfamiliar faces
Situation: trouble was in the air
Style: film noir on an acid trip
Walking along minding my own business, I realized that something bad and tragic was about to happen. I stopped and took a deep breath. A violent storm was brewing overhead not far from where I was standing. I could smell it in the air. The entire island was about to be tsunami food. Cut scene: I was transported onto this huge boat, hundreds of scared shitless folks surrounded me. Reminiscent to the Circle Line Ferry in New York used to take tourists to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island.
Being a Red Cross first-aid/CPR card carrier, I assumed position of sacrificing heroine. I had this innate sense that I was the heroine so I knew I wasn’t going to die. I had to save these people. We were nearing the eye of the storm just has we were approaching Destination Safe Point. We docked and a few people were able to unboard. Then the storm pulled us back out and violently thrashed us about. Everyone held on and cried like they were saying their good-byes to the world. The driver of the boat was able to get the boat back to dock.
I was near the dock and the man behind me told me to go. I said, with a symphony-orchestrating soundtrack, “No. I can help.” I picked up this little girl and lowered her into a hole the width of an average adult. “Someone catch her.” No response. I didn’t let go because I didn’t know how far the drop was.
Finally, I knew that I had to go in with her. I crawled in and down a slide with a McDonald’s Playland appeal we slid. Passed glittering walls and huge “Alice in Wonderland” talking flowers. This is our safe haven? We’re not in Kansas anymore or anywhere of our own dimension in that case.
The little girl was doing okay for having just lost her family and then being taken through the looking glass by a complete stranger. She had dropped some important looking documents. I picked them up and read them. A receipt stated that she had cost $188 and had one green-card carrying father who was also purchased for $188 and a resident alien stepmother for $0.69.
I knew at that moment that this information was not for my eyes. I walked around to examine this surreal underground world. It became rooms as I kept walking.
A dollhouse. We were in a dollhouse. I then had this overwhelming sixth sense that we were being followed. I kept walking into rooms that became other rooms. A maze. Until the only sounds I heard were my own footsteps and the faint ones of someone trying to go undetected. I stopped. I listen hard. Silence. I start up again and still hear an echo of my footsteps.
Suddenly, a firm grasp covers my mouth from behind muffling my cry for help. I was wrestled to the ground. His hand was still covering my mouth and his weight pinned me to the floor. He was searching for these papers he thought I had in my pockets.
“Where are they?”, he demanded. Just as the search was about to turn violent, footsteps were approaching. He menacingly looked at me in the eye before hastily jumping off of me and out the door. I screamed to let people know where I was.
My first thought was that the little girl was in trouble and that I was the only one who could save her. My motherly instinct kicked in and I knew that it was my job to protect her. My second thought was that I was about to do some serious ass kicking and geared myself to go chase him down when someone violently grabbed my arm.
Shaken and disoriented, it took a few minutes for me to figure out where I was.
“Something to drink,” asked the flight attendant. The Swedish woman was shaking my arm incessantly to awaken me.
“Water please,” I said weakly. Whew. It was just a dream.
TO BE CONTINUED…