I had to wait in the dark for the shuttle to arrive. It was very late or very early, depending on how you look at it. I heard rustling in the bushes and I was already cold and terrified. I thought I might be eaten by a coyote. Or maybe the lone car coming up the road would be some drunken killer ready to kill me and drop me off in the wilderness park who’s gates stood open and unlocked. I wondered what happened to the police officer who locked them every night. I knew this trip was going to be a stretch for me but I didn’t realize just how scary it might be.
But then the shuttle arrived and I got in and the first good thing to happen was the enormous lady who sat next to me and kept me warm with her bulk the whole way to the airport. I don’t know why people mind sitting next to fat people. I appreciated her.
The first epiphany hit me on the plane. It was right after I realized that for me, sipping seltzer on a flight bound to JFK was like hitting the lotto is to most people. Not only is it one of those dreams I lay awake and think of, it’s my annual wish to Santa. It’s a feeling I’ve had for so long now that it has become a part of me. It was so overwhelming to be living the dream that I didn’t know how to absorb it so I just quietly thanked God that one of the imaginary moments in my heart and soul was happening in body and life.
The next epiphany came suddenly when I looked out the window. I’m not sure what took me there but I remembered the Yosemite hike I took in 9th grade with my class. It was so hard, it was so long, and so steep, I was miserable the whole time. Everyone had to wait for me and while they talked and laughed, I trudged and wheezed. The switchbacks were endless and I hated them. I hated the guide for making me go, I hated the mountains for being so high and I hated myself for not having the stamina to make it. When we arrived at the top I was still angry. I threw myself on the hard granite ground and laid there with my eyes closed. My teacher was beside herself. “Get up!” She yelled.”Open your eyes! This is what it’s all about. You’ve made it! Look at the vistas! Look at the view!”
“The view?” I questioned. “I hated that hike. It almost killed me, how can you be talking about the view when I’m dying!”
“But the view is what makes it worth it,” she declared.
So I opened my eyes and I looked around. It was clear as daylight to me then. I looked around that panorama of Half Dome and glacier-cut granite formations and trees and waterfalls and I thought. “This isn’t worth dying for! This is a one second perspective from on top of the mountain that I could’ve seen in a postcard. All I can do is look at this stuff but it’s so far away it doesn’t even mean anything and I’m so tired that I hate it. There’s no vista in the world worth giving up my life for. I’d rather just enjoy it than worry about getting to the top of anything just to look down it.” Well, I don’t know if I’m saying it right. But it definitely hit me yesterday. There’s no vista, no pre-conceived attainable goal that will make it all worth it. If I can’t enjoy what I’m doing it won’t look better looking back down on it when life is over and there’s no choices left.
So now I’m here alone. After somewhat of a debacle I found myself standing on a Manhattan street in the rain with large amounts of luggage and no one who wanted me. I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out and I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach for failing, already, at being here, alone. It was so dark, just like it had been when I left. I wasn’t worried about skunks and coyotes anymore but there were drunks and rats. By then it was pouring and thunder was booming through this manmade landscape. I was standing there hot and humid and wet and tired and dirty and dark when I head the sounds coming, clip clp, clip clop and I looked down the street to see a white horse coming by. A white horse! And that’s when I realized it was Easter Sunday, I was in New York City and I would never be alone or completely in the dark no matter what happens next.