As we pedaled harder and harder into the night, the distant lights pulsed. They streaked. They spun. They multiplied and minute-by-minute receded into where the horizon should have been but wasn’t. We were so distracted by the spectacle that we never noticed the ground fall away from our tires. We were free falling. Sailing through the cosmos on machines of light. Suddenly, I was aware of it. My heart shuddered. My stomach turned. Don’t look down. I looked down. I found reality in the under glow of my bicycle. I put it away. Back up and I felt the infinite flatness of all things. It consumed me. I opened up. My vision bloomed. The desert was pregnant with life, but everyone was invisible. We crossed their paths like signals through a circuit, waveforms drenched in darkness. We became tangled in a tractor beam. It towed us towards a stage, which emitted dazzling color and sound that soaked my bones. It was an organism, and around it stirred the nocturnal fur people. The earth tilted. My stomach turned. We lay supine beneath the sky. The stars fell around us and the clouds birthed a caterpillar consuming itself. I was afraid. I checked under my bike. Nothing. I needed to go. Where was home? What is home? We retreated into the emptiness and suddenly the sick came. The water followed. For a second, I forgot gravity existed. A stranger arrived unexpectedly. He was wearing white horns that held the moonlight. Do you know where you’re going, he asked. Yes, we said. Liars, he accused and laughed. We laughed. He was right. He vanished. Then we vanished. Wait. No, we didn’t. You needed to be relieved. I had become sorry for nature and all I had done to it, so I told you no. Where was home, I mean, the toilets? As we rode, the Man followed us around the circle, silent, massive, judging. We found a second stage. It was not the toilets. More flashing, more noise, more fur, and the orgiastic—the sweating masses that smashed against one another in slow motion. We were in the jungle. We were all connected. We trusted our feet more than anything, and so we walked. An enormous fish floated by, a neon red barracuda, and I learned what it was to be hypnotized. Cars are real, you said. I forgot I wasn’t alone. Cars are real, I repeated. The playa provides. I contemplated what it meant to feel safe. You were worried about getting lost. But you can’t get lost here, said a beautiful French girl with an accent that made our knees nearly buckle. The moment was good poetry, but we had no idea where we were. The duck. When we get home, don’t make it into a thing, you said. I won’t, I lied. This was simulated suburban life, the immutable human drama. I cleaned my teeth but you were busy making it into a thing. I peeled you away. We trusted our feet more than anything, and so we walked. We left an hour ago. We were across the street. Everyone knew. We marched in a line like ants. We didn’t want that guy but he began to follow us. The road was 30-feet wide and then it was 300. The background disappeared and all I could see was the carnival. It was coming at me. Maybe, I was a robot. Do you know where we are? Are we lost? I am back in Amsterdam. Why was he following us? You made me get rid of him. He was not from here. Where was he from? Where are any of us from? My thoughts were pedestrian, not revelatory, and I was frustrated. We were walking back and forth, or perhaps, in circles. I knew this should be funny. This exists, I said. The columns that belched fire weren’t far away, but they may as well have been on Mars. Your smile was lit in half. I could no longer hear Simon. We were trapped in the void again. Do you know where we are? Are we lost? But the duck, the toilets were by the duck. And home. The road had begun to narrow. I checked and no one was following us. Almost there, and I was sure everyone was naked and bulbous. I was sure I had known this the whole time. Inside, the rubber walls shifted like a subtle kaleidoscope and it reminded me of wood grain. After I finished, I realized I looked ridiculous and confessed I would never be cool enough for this place. This was my truth. Why was I wearing this? All of my clothes needed to be other clothes. Immediately. I was pacing back and forth. The indecision was painted all over my face. You were laughing. I accepted I had nowhere to be sexy at and decided to change nothing. We needed to be going. I wanted more provisions, but gravity was broken and the water spilled around me. I changed my shirt. We needed to be going. I started trusting bikes again, and that made sense to you. We were not lost yet. I had no idea where we would go. But we pedaled harder and harder into the night.
Image courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson. Some rights reserved.