It’s been more than 5 years since I’ve visited the land that partially made me, the United States of America.
And more than 4 years since I’ve left the islands of New Zealand.
So this trip overseas has been feeling monumental.
Not to mention I just moved house, had a tribunal hearing over my commercial lease, handed over my studio to someone, trained teachers to teach myoga while I’m out of Wellington, broke with my boyfriend (mutual yet still sad), began the process of re-branding myself, & premiered PocaHAUNTus–the theatre show that has been brewing in me since before birth–all in the space of the past 30 days.
Needless to say I’m exhausted.
And simultaneously awake, more than ever before, & in ways unknown to me before now.
So today/yesterday I’m on the plane from Auckland to San Francisco & “dinner” has been served. They’ve lowered the lights as well as the temperature. I’ve shrouded myself with an Indian cotton saree from my soul-sistah Tink in order to preserve some of the moisture being sucked out of me by the plane atmosphere–I swear, I splash water on my face & almost instantaneously it’s dried. I’m dehydrated just thinking of it.
I’m nodding in & out of sleep, but not really sleeping, when I hear a high-pitched muffled scream & some beating limbs just behind & to the left of me. I unveil myself & look around to find a middle-aged brown man flailing in a nightmare. But I don’t think this. I mean I am writing this now as though I thought all of this, but really it was just there, happening.
Without thinking I stood up, walked around to his side, squatted down to his level, put my hand on his left arm & said softly in his left ear, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok…” until he quieted. Then he burst out again, kicking the seat in front of him, arms flailing, eyes still closed. And again, but slightly louder I said, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok…” Then I laughed a little, not at him, not really at anything. I don’t know why I laughed really. I didn’t hang around to chat or wait for him to fully come-to. I just stood up & went back to my seat, knowing, somehow, that he was ok.
But before I could sit down a tall, elderly white man asked me, “Did you know him?” I think I must have stared stupidly at him for a second too long, but then just said simply, “no.”
“Do you think he’s ok,” he asked & I sensed that the man was more concerned for himself than for the man who’d been screaming.
I said, “He was just having a nightmare.”
I then realized that a number of people had seen the man before I had, & had watched me, but no one had moved towards him. I was too late in my thinking to say to the tall white man,
“Did I need to know him? Aren’t we all on this planet, this plane at least, together? I would hope someone would have helped me out of a nightmare.”
Well, in fact, many, many people have. And for all of you I am most thankful. The gratitude I feel these days is not something I do, but something that does me. An effulgence, one of my most favorite words.
And so beginneth my travels…