Saturday, March 26

truth is stranger than fiction.


Yesterday evening, my boss gave me a ride home because i had a metric ton of paperwork to do for the shop (i am the new accountant, apparently). In addition, i had 2 bags of groceries and a delicate little pot of climbing jasmine. Just call me Pack Mule. i headed for the elevator (normally i take the stairs), super excited to get to my apartment and put all the stuff down, tired after a long day of prepping flowers. Glancing down the hallway, i can see that a girl, also laden down with packages, is heading towards the elevator with me. Great, i think antisocially as i step inside. Commence awkward silence.

i hit the #2 button, and she shuffled in and asks me to hit #3. After a minute of painfully slow ascent–our elevator has always been a little hinkyshe blurts, "oh my gosh that smells good...!" and i realize that i'm still holding the jasmine. "yeah!" i say. "i got it for like five bucks at Trader Joe's! They sure know how to get me." And she laughs, while i silently berate myself for over-combating my painful shyness.

Then we begin to realize that we've been at floor #2 for quite a few moments and the door is not opening. i hit the DOOR OPEN button a few times; nothing happens. We smile nervously at each other and i say, "well, if we get stuck in here, at least it will smell good!" Ha ha ha ha, we each offer. Nervous laughter. But seriously. Nothing is happening. The elevator feels dead. i start pushing more buttons, DOOR OPEN, 2, 3, DOOR OPEN again... The lights are not even lighting up on them: the elevator is completely unresponsive. i am starting to get a little scared. "Oh, no. You've got to be kidding me," she says, and leans over to push one herself. Her eyes get wide and she stares at the doors uncomprehendingly. Our eyes meet. At that moment we both realize that we are stuck in the elevator. It's probably been about three minutes at this point, but it's kind of felt like forever.

She puts the shoes she's been holding (some strappy gold pumps) on the floor of the elevator and says pleadingly, "what are we gonna do?" i consider pushing the button with the firefighter's hat on it (CALL), but then decide that i'm being overdramatic.

"do you have a phone?" i reply, suddenly extremely grateful to be in there with someone else (i do not have one). Meanwhile, it is starting to sink in, that powerless and trapped feeling. My legs suddenly feel leaden and weak. We might fall three floors, my brain says to itself matter-of-factly. Shut up! i retort. Panic is creeping in at the edges, and my breathing feels wrong. She is fumbling around in her bag for her cell phone, muttering that she can't find it, she can't find it.
"Fuck!" she says. "Do you know the number for the security office, though?"

i do. Thank lucky stars for my photographic memory right now. Guess we were a good team.

"It's 272..." i wait as she dials with panicky fingers, "...0172."

She holds the phone up to her ear, eyes darting around, as i close my eyes and silently will the elevator not to fall. You'll probably just break a leg, or an arm, my brain is trying to process rationally. "Wait, is it 619 or 858?!" She has dialed the wrong area code. "Oh, it's 858..." i say, trailing off. This is like a Three Stooges routine. i begin to get used to the idea of being stuck in this tiny space with a complete stranger, one who actually might be more scared than i am. And, i am realizing how fortunate we are to be in a building with only three floors. Sweet.

Before anyone can answer the line, though, we hear the blessed ding!. We look at each other, incredulous, as the doors slowly open. i look to make sure that we are not between floors or some such ridiculousness, but we have somehow made it to floor three! i leap out, and tell her that we're at her stop. She smiles, in a daze, and hangs up the phone as she steps out of the elevator. i tell her with great relief and sarcasm that i'm taking the stairs down a level, and she says "have a good night!" i wave goodbye and we are each alone again.

Later, after my extreme case of the jitters (hello, adrenalin!) had worn off, Nat and i went to a friend's house to watch The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (bloody brilliant film, that). During Japanese food beforehand (smoky noodles, green tea, banana sushi and mochi aftewards), the conversation suddenly turned to strange afflictions such as the ability to squeeze one's phlegm out through one's tear ducts (i knew a guy once), people who bite their nails down far that they begin to actually eat their own fingers (this is true, sorry :/), and children born with no mouths (so, teeth and gums completely exposed), at which Nat and i both started, because last night i'd had a bad dream:


in the first scene, i was staying overnight at a ramshackle hotel in some sort of grungy western ghost town, right by a railroad track where each night a train loaded with terrifying people who'd had their lips eaten off (by who or what, i didn't know) would begrudgingly tease and seduce us to their cars for gallons of potable water (for some reason our hotel had none); the man i tentatively approached held the water out to me then quickly took it away, over and over, until finally i had to be bold and grab for it, at which point he made a point of touching my hand with his– something i had not been aware that i was avoiding. He gave me a bitter smile and i broke free and ran away pell-mell with my water.

Later in the dream i was in one of the topmost floors of the same hotel (except now it was all clean and pristine and white and i believe we were in Tokyo) with Nat and our friend Allison. We were unpacking and getting ready for bed when a huge earthquake struck. Our building began to rumble and shake, then sway from side to side, more and more each time. i screamed and Allison tried to console me: there, there, heather, it's just a bad earthquake. everything'll be okay.
No! i screamed, and bolted for the other room to find Nat. This is for real!
i tried to run to him, but when i got to the couch i had to grab it so i wouldn't fall over. i could see him on the other side of the room; white as a sheet, trying to use his own body to counteract the swaying, to keep the building from toppling. i joined him in this motion desperately, keening, until suddenly the building began to crack and break apart to our left and i realized that the whole top of the building was falling off. We were going to die. As the world collapsed all around us and we raced toward the ground, i looked to him and screamed at the top of my lungs over the roar and chaos and falling walls and furniture: i love you! but then i lost sight of him and as the debris whirled and screamed and weighed down all over me, i had no idea how long it would be until we hit home and then i tried to take one last deep breath (why?) but there was no air anymore, it was like being in a vacuum.
Then i woke up.

i had initially attributed them to lingering worries over the situation in Japan, but who knows? Maybe we are being told, all the time, what the future holds, only we don't yet quite have the capabilities to decipher these messages. Beats me.