It starts with a platform. We collect together and wait.
I stand near the furthest end, where the crowd thins. A man stands next to me. I am reading. He is staring. Now he is whispering. We lock eyes. A shiver down my back. I move to the middle of the platform. He leaves the station.
Five minutes later, I am riding on the subway, midway through the line, and lights start to flicker. The driver screams something untranslatable on a fuzzy PA system. My heart jumps. My eyes connect with another man across the way. What will happen? We don’t know. The subway starts up again and pulls into my stop, or coincidentally, our stop– we pass by one another and emerge out into the blooming cityscape. We didn’t have to be friends, but for a minute, our faces looked like we could be. We could be helpful to one another. It was a nonverbal agreement.
The internet is down at the library, so I check out The White Album by Joan Didion and retire to the local Starbucks. I sit near the window, next to a woman who might or might not have psychosis. I feel sensitive to psychosis because I was up late last night Googling the relationship between religious experience, paranormal experience, and Schizophrenia. I had found a message board for patients, many of whom were able to step outside of their ailments for a minute to inquire– one person wanted to know why it feels like she is entering into another reality when she has a psychotic episode– like waking up.
This is not a dream. It’s a document. A report.
I want to make that clear.
The woman with psychosis in Starbucks is on repeat now, a symptom– “it’s a magical day, it’s a magical day, it’s a magical.”
I do my writing. There is an empty chair at my table. A woman asks if another woman can share my table. I agree. The other woman happens to be blind. She does not wear sunglasses. She could be either poor or homeless. Her eyes are crooked and staring at me. Every time I look up, I see her unfixed eyes.
The woman with psychosis says how The Beach Boys brought her mother out to California.
The day is almost too much for me to take. I feel horrible and slowly slink away from the table and walk a few blocks down to Main Street, where my thoughts quickly return to Los Angeles, the subway, and what brings us out–what makes us uncurl.
I look up and find a response. I snap a photo with my iPhone (noted above).