First Contact

Do your best to hold your composure. Do not appear awkward; do not show a sign of discomfort or unease as you approach the bench. It’s merely an airport gate and you’re not a terrorist. Wait right there, clasp your balmy palms into the warm canyon of your thighs. Not forgetting to pull the hood of the thick cotton sweater over your head, MCO is freezing and flip-flops, though important for Florida, are stupid in central air-conditioning. You’re roommate is about to land, and so is reality. You are leaving. You are leaving the comfort and confides of your home.

It’s only 30 miles to see mommy and daddy when things swelter from stress and agitation.

It’s only 25 minutes in heavy traffic to a steady job where everyone knows, and loves you. There is a steady paycheck. A steady stream of interactions with beautiful people.

It’s only 15 minutes to your favorite bar. They know what you like. And they keep a week long tab for you, because they know, you’re struggling.

It’s only 10 steps to the small open rooms of your best friends. Every worry, left at the inviting doors, and every care tossed out the window as you toke up and vaporize your concerns into a minuscule smaller than oblivion.
This is your home. You love to hate it.

Yet you’re taking one giant leap. You’re strapped into a mechanical nightmare. At liftoff, every stretching inch of your feeble skin will wear off as your shaking bones remain. You are launching to the moon. You are making one small step, but is it that giant leap you desire?

Think you’re clever? Think posting pictures of the lines of your favorite authors will motivate you? Follow the feng shui of a career-driven energy and hang scenic views of the two most beautiful cities for achievement: Los Angeles & New York.

But your door is cracking. The splinters are fine, invisible to the naked eye. Felt only once your vision is pierced. No ghostly light or aura flows through the seams, but a vast darkness of fear pulls you in. Now you’re floating endlessly in the depths of space, begging for some primordial object to bump you in the right direction. Suddenly the realization sets over the sun and the light of hope extinguishes in a cool breath.

In twenty days, you’ll wake up and take a step you never imagined taking. Will you be able to come back down to earth; or will you find yourself running off a lunar crater and swimming towards an asteroid belt?

***

I’m leaving for L.A. in a few weeks. I’m waiting for Justin to walk off his arriving flight from Denver and I start counting the days I have until I takeoff from MCO, and start a new chapter of my life. I almost want to put the book on the shelf, make a note of where I left off, promise I’ll finish it this weekend. But then ultimately I’ll throw the book away while moving, regretting the toss and having to buy it again. I look sketchy sitting on a polished wood bench. I don’t look like who I emulate in writing, nor do I look like the talented individual I dream I am. I look like every average individual walking off that plane; a mere tourist of the waking life.

I spot Justin at the tail end of the herd and flag him down.

“Dude, I did not want to come back to Florida.”

He tells me this. No “hello” or “hey man;” a complete statement. I feel this is how any person returning home may feel though at some point. We walk to get his luggage and he starts telling me about the beauties of the Rockies, the warmth of a city in the cold, and the nature of an urban dream come true.

I fear I’ll go to L.A. and be 3,000 miles away from everything I define as home. Yet when I board the plane, I’ll want to strap a rocket to back of the engine and ignite my way into the stars.

I fear I’ll try so hard, I’ll skip the moon, forgetting about an extra step. I’ll get out there and I’ll never come down. Floating aimlessly like salt in the sea, then sink to an unimaginable depth.

I fear I won’t come home. I’ll love it so much, I’ll hate it.

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