Note to the Reader: Words like Spirit, Source, the Universe, Oneness, and God are used interchangeable. Trust me, She doesn’t mind. – SW
You ever see something so weird and possibly magical, that you can’t tell anybody about it because they’ll think you’re insane?
It happened to me while I was lounging in my backyard sipping India Pale Ale after a perfect meal grilled on the barbecue. The late summer sun was setting, and I was lulled into a blissful state as I watched the separate dying embers of charcoal send fragrant wisps of aroma into the evening air. I put my feet up on the chair where Claire had sat a few moments ago—how much better could life get?
Maybe I’ll go inside and turn on the Lakers game. It was going to be a good one because the star player was coming off the injured list and had something to prove. Yeah, as soon as this buzzy feeling fades, I’ll grab another beer and check that out.
I slipped into some mindless daydreaming, and at some point, I found myself staring at the small rectangle of grass that constituted our backyard… and suddenly noticed it was moving. I don’t just mean that a few blades of grass were blowing in the wind, I mean the whole patch of land was undulating as though it had turned into a giant waterbed. It was like something out of “The Matrix.” But when I snapped out of the daydream and focused my vision, it stopped.
Hey, I wanted it back! I saw how this works, so I relaxed my eyes back to the same point where I was looking a few feet “past” the grass and there it went again. But this time there was a glow around it, as if some kind of strange energy was emanating from it. Like it was alive.
But would I tell anyone about this? Hell no. This was crazy talk.
“Hey, honey!” I thought of saying, but caught myself before the words spilled out. Was I really going to tell Claire about this?
I mean sure, she’s talked about out-of-the-ordinary things like hearing her dead grandmother whisper things to her, or that she was able to “read” another person in her Crystal Psychic Workshop or whatever it’s called, and that she started communicating with higher energies. I asked if she could find out from them the winning lottery numbers, and she accused me of being “low-vibration” and then she never brought up her workshops again. Probably for the best—I just didn’t get all that woo-woo stuff.
Yes, and I’m definitely not going to give her the satisfaction of this “vision,” which I’ll probably forget in a few days anyway. I mean, didn’t we have enough problems in the world? No need to complicate things by talking about undulating waves of glowing grass or other strange imaginings that are probably meaningless… Who has the time to sift through all these things, which to be honest with you, are a little creepy and best left untouched?
“Alex, I need to talk to you.” Claire’s voice came through the screen.
“I’m about to turn on the game. How about at halftime?”
She didn’t respond, and the way the shadows were falling, I couldn’t even see her face.
I closed the barbecue and stood up. Did seeing the lawn move change my life any? Nah. It’s gonna take more than that.
Yeah, the Lakers are going to be a competitive team this year. It’s going to be a good season.
Me: “It’s really not a good time for me to go through a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ right now. Any chance I can postpone?”
Eight Months Later
“Hey, wake up!”
With the side of my head leaning on the inside of my Camry window, I had just nodded off when I heard the sharp voice, and then felt knocking on the glass by my face. I jolted awake.
With sleep-deprived, squinty eyes I was startled to see a middle-aged guy with a silver crucifix gleaming over his windbreaker. I opened the window.
“You can’t sleep here,” he said in a monotone voice. It was after midnight, but there were enough lights to see his expression was as compassionate as his tone: not at all.
“What’s the problem?”
“Private property. You gotta move along.”
“This is a church parking lot, right?”
“I thought churches took in the homeless.”
“Yes, some do.”
A very long moment of silence occurred between us. Maybe I chose the wrong denomination?
Finally, I sighed, then moved my seat to the upright position and started the engine, the heat from the vents immediately warming me.
As I drove off, I considered the bigger question: Why was I homeless at this stage of my life?
The answer is short: I’m a victim. A victim of life.
There was no way I could know how much my wife leaving me for her yoga instructor would decimate me. Obliterate me. Demolish me.
You might look at me and think, “Wow, that guy looks like he could accomplish anything he sets his mind to.” That’s because people don’t see the destruction inside, the misery I’ve been living.
So what if I’m only in my mid 30’s, healthy, with mixed Mediterranean lineage? The open, festering wounds are there, I assure you.
And until the last six months happened to me, I had a bounce to my step. People who spring out of bed in the morning? That was me until severe depression meant I would just sort of fall out of bed, my feet there to catch me so I didn’t face-plant.
That’s when I had a bed. Now I recline the seat in my car and use the 24-Hour Fitness for showering. Yeah, I’m one of those guys you see in the gym locker room with a duffel bag holding everything I own.
How did I get here?
Depression caused me to care even less for a job I was barely holding onto anyway. Does Aflac insurance cover you when you lose your job from depression? Doesn’t matter, because I didn’t have it. Should I get it now? No, because the acquisition of food and shelter has exponentially increased in importance.
Why did Claire leave me? “Oh, oh, ask me, I know!” Only because I’ve thought about it six thousand times since.
Let’s start with when she said I was sucking her energy, shall we? That I was an “energy vampire.”
Wtf? First of all, energy is something that powers cars and rockets, not marriages. Sure, you should get enough sleep and eat right so you have energy for your day, but I think the FBI and Interpol would be interested to know about all this human energy theft happening around the globe.
And so what if it’s a real thing? Maybe if you’re in a relationship, you’re supposed to suck energy from the other person. Maybe that’s what they’re there for—when you need it, you suck. When they need it, they suck. Otherwise you’re just good for, what? Cooking, cleaning and sex?
What happened to supporting your man? Helping your partner through life’s challenges, through thick and thin? Where’s the commitment?
Then she said we didn’t share the same interests.
Okay, she was right about that, but so what? You get a divorce over that?
Irreconcilable differences. Just because I wanted to watch the news opinion people every night and she wanted to watch some metaphysical documentaries on Gaia. She said “my people” were too loud (they had to be, to be heard above the kooks on the other side), they were too low-vibe and “all in their head.”
Maybe Claire needed to be a little more in her head…
Of course, I told her that—you shouldn’t keep these things in, especially if there’s a teachable moment at hand—but she didn’t take it as an insult. She just said something about the importance of coming from your heart chalk-ra (or whatever) was even more important, and that if we treated everyone like family there’d be no strife in the world.
Hey, if we treated everyone like my family, everyone with bad grades would go to bed without dinner or get beaten for almost any infraction. Isn’t there a country where they cane you? How high-vibe is that? Then she said something about toxic behavior and setting boundaries and I tuned her out at that point.
I pulled up to the curb in front of an apartment complex with crumbling stucco. Jordan lived here, and he’d offered me space to crash, though I’d been avoiding it. We were friendly enough, but his place was a constant party den, and I just wasn’t in the mood these days.
But here I sat nonetheless, desperate.
Claire also said the intimacy wasn’t there, which I told her was utterly ridiculous. But she was talking not about the physical, but the energy, that when people change and grow apart, it’s just not the same.
How does that happen?
She’s the most important thing in my life, which I realize more and more every day. There are nights where my stomach feels knotted over losing her. And then there’s the nights where it feels like a pit has opened up in my guts and my organs are being pulled inside out. Somehow sleep manages to save me every time from thinking dark thoughts about whether I even deserve to exist. Yeah, thoughts like that.
Whatever it is I lacked for her, I am SO prepared to boost, expand, trim, exfoliate, take a class, take a workshop…
I even grabbed one of the flyers she brought home and popped in on one of those holistic psychic fairs she was always going to, just to see if I could relate. But I just didn’t get it: a bunch of people selling oils and jewelry with “mystical” properties? Psychic readers—didn’t they use to be called fortune tellers? —watching you as you stroll down the aisle trying to figure out which one you’re going to allow into your head—if they weren’t in there already!
Why should I get a reading, anyway? What are they going to tell me, that I’m in a pit and it’s dark all around, and hopeless? I can see that for myself. Or in their language, I can experience that for myself, here in the present moment.
And I’m here to say the present moment sucks.
I grabbed my backpack and got out of the car. I trudged up the steps to 12B and knocked.
It was actually pretty mellow inside when Jordan answered the door. He’s in his late 30’s, Filipino, with deep grooves along the sides of his mouth, probably from a lifetime of laughing at everyone’s jokes. He was wearing a loose “shaman” shirt and sweat pants, and upon seeing me gave me a warm smile and a bro hug.
“Alex, whoa, did not expect you tonight.”
“I decided to take you up on a place to crash. Well, I already crashed, but I could do with some sleep.”
“Yeah, so, so sorry about you and Claire and…”
“Losing my job and my house?”
“Yeah, all that, man.”
“Even a church kicked me out. Can you believe?”
“I believe a lot. Come in, just don’t step on anybody.”
I took a step inside the dimly-lit apartment and saw what he meant: six people were lying on yoga mats and pillows looking blissed out.
I backed up a step. “Hey, I can come another time.”
“No worries, it’s just plant medicine.”
I saw a man and woman facing each other having a hushed and obviously intimate conversation. “You guys doing ayahuasca?” I was referring to that infamous psychedelic plant from Peru that supposedly provided a transcendent spiritual experience.
“No, these are a special batch of mushrooms, very strong. A lot of profound journeying is happening here tonight.”
“Are you on them now?”
“No, I’m monitoring them. Follow me.”
I took a moment. What the hell, I’m already here. I closed the front door and followed him to the spare bedroom.
Something had changed Jordan. He used to be manic, always with a drink in one hand and something smoking in the other, singing loudly to whatever song was playing. Now he’s a transformed man.
The bedroom was empty except for a pile of shoes, obviously from the guests. Jordan handed me a yoga mat, pillow and blanket.
“I expected a party in here,” I told him.
He shook his head. “Stopped that a while ago. Saw the light and followed it.”
He tapped his narrow chest gently. “Inside. Started meditating, doing yoga, and then I went to Peru…”
“Yeah, I heard.”
“Hey, you’re welcome to join us, but I know you’re not into mushrooms and all that, so just unwind, chill out, and we’ll rap in the morning.”
“Thanks for not pressuring me, Jordan.”
“Plant medicine has to call to you.”
He opened the door. “Good night, amigo. If you need anything, I’ll be over there by Laura.”
He gestured in the direction of a young woman with honey-colored hair looking over at him.
I squinted in her direction. “You guys hooked up?”
“We connected. It’s not even a Twin Flame thing, it’s beyond. Sacred union, most beautiful thing ever.”
He gave me another quick hug, then carefully walked over to the empty mat next to Laura and sat down. She gently touched his face, then tucked back into her blanket and went to sleep.
I leaned on the doorway and looked at these people. What kind of journeys could they possibly be going on that mattered? The natural hallucinogens in mushrooms supposedly sped some awakening process.
Until today, I never even believed there could be anything to awaken from, or to. But then I flashed back to that afternoon in my back yard when my gaze softened, and the grass started to heave and surge…
What if Claire was right, that there was more to life than our five senses tell us? What if I could learn all about it, and use it to get her back? And I would need to get there fast—she was still answering my texts, but I could tell she was losing interest. I had to move now, while the lines of communication were still open. Would doing “magic” mushrooms get me there? What did I have to lose?
As my eyes finished adjusting to the dim lighting, I saw Jordan looking in my direction. He was sitting next to some fancy cups that he presumedly used to serve the mushroom cocktail. He seemed to sense my thoughts—or was it my energy? —and picked up a cup and held it in my direction, essentially asking me if I wanted it.
Boy, did I.
The next two chapters will appear in the Dec-Jan issue of Radiance.