Previously on Nayrotica.
“How can you say these things? How can you say you hope we can get past all of this when I saw you upload that disc so secretly? When you ask me for a piece of jewelry so that you can take it with you and do who knows what with? Do you want to show your friends? Tell a story that is not true? Do you want to pretend that this all went perfectly? You changed the dosage of your medication and only told me after the fact! I could have worked with you on that, but I didn’t even know! We said that we were going to be honest with each other– and I was honest with you. But you haven’t been honest with me since the beginning! So, I don’t know what’s going to happen! I don’t know what to do now. I need some time to think and to sit with all of this information. I will talk to you soon, but for now I just need a little time.”
I landed in New York late in the evening– having slept restlessly on the plane, but feeling somewhat recharged and ready to fly out the next morning for another long trip. This time, it was for work and a wedding. I made my way via subway to a friend’s place; I would be staying with her when I was not traveling, intermittently for the upcoming month or two. I gave up my apartment before going to Europe, so came home to the landing pad that accepted me without question every time I found myself homeless in New York. It happened much more often than I care to admit, but such is the life of a vagabond like me. Quietly as possible, I entered her domain, which she shared with her 5 year old son. Getting into her place wasn’t an issue as I had my own set of keys, it was the “quietly” portion of the equation that proved difficult.
The door to her apartment was one that announced the entrance and exit of everyone who used it. There were tricks to lessen the creak and wail of the metal door on marble jam coming together in scrape of friction, but I was beat and my travel fatigue took over. Attempting to lift then push, I failed in my mission of silence. Soon after the god-awful sound resonated through the apartment, my friend turned and looked at me from the couch. “Welcome home.” She said in a declarative sotto voce and continued, “I’m going to bed.” We were back where we left off, as if no time had passed at all– we didn’t need to acknowledge the fact that I had just been married in a forest in Poland, that I had a complete and utter meltdown in Berlin, that I may have given the gift of the clap to the French population. We just saw each other, acknowledged that there was nothing that needed to be said, because we saw that the other was breathing and not bleeding, therefore things were going to be okay. I love those friendships: the ones that take no catching up to make you feel at home. After an awkward hug (we aren’t huggers, but it was mandatory after the events and separation of the summer), she was off to bed. I took that moment to get settled into the 5 year old’s bedroom, Spider-Man sheets and all. I lacked the energy to unpack or start a load of laundry, so I simply readied myself for bed and turned out the lights. Nestled snugly under the trucks and cars themed quilt, Spider-Man held me tightly… I was soon off in dreamland.
As if no time had passed at all, it was light outside and suddenly, I was being attacked! A vicious Gollum-like demon pounced on me, his claws poking me and thrashing on top of me wildly. His thin stature escaped my attempts to restrain him!
My eyes came into a bit more focus as I struggled to escape, “Uncle NAY NAY! Time to wake up, sleepy head!” Taken aback and a bit surprised, I realized that it wasn’t a demon at all. My ears started ringing from the loudness of his voice shouting at me as if I were miles away. I responded, “What?? Easy! Shhhh!”
I wasn’t dreaming at all… the creature was my non-biological nephew and he was doing the morning routine that occurs every time I find myself sleeping in his home… which, to be honest was very often… since it has been noted that I have a knack for giving up my apartment before going on trips and then having nowhere to go when I return. Smart. Very smart.
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiii,” I uttered groggily.
“Get up! It’s time to get up! What are YOU doing in my bed?!” He said to me, as if it had never happened before.
“I’m up. I’m up! You weren’t sleeping in here, so I figured I would.” He looked at me, understanding the information and said matter-of-fact-ly, “Yeah. Makes sense. I slept in my mom’s bed last night.”
I smiled; so earnest. “Come here. I have a very important secret to tell you,” I whispered.
He came closer, waiting for the big announcement I was about to make. “What is it Uncle Nay Nay???” He inquired, curiosity in his eyes– tiptoeing closer and closer.
“Come here, I’ll tell you…” And just when he was within arms reach, I snatched him up and tickled him, his body writhing in attempts to escape, squeals of laughter and joy filling the apartment. I finally let him catch his breath and then we were up and starting the day.
Soon after breakfast and coffee, the nephew was out the door to summer activities and his mom was off to work– and I was left with unpacking, laundry, and repacking. Now, at this point, it would be simple to move on and forget about the fact that I had been married a couple of weeks earlier, but the sequence of events still lingered heavily on my mind (and I am certain, dear reader, it is still on your mind… WHAT HAPPENED?!) I was across an ocean from the man I thought I was going to spend my life with, regardless of how ridiculous those rushed thoughts and the wedding were. In classic fashion, I sent him a message to ease my anxiety; the message wasn’t about him, but it was about me and my need to reach out for reassurance: Hey there. How’s Berlin today? Just getting ready to head to Denver for work– thought I would say hi. Thinking about you. Love you. xo
His response came as I was about to leave the apartment– it was playful, light. So I engaged. I followed up with a picture of my ridiculous travel outfit: cut-off grey jean shorts aka JORTS; a short-sleeve camouflage button-down shirt; turquoise and orange tube socks; navy blue side-zip motorcycle boots; a navy blue blazer with a polka-dot pocket square; and finally, a grey and white neckerchief and aviator sunglasses… I had clearly lost my mind. He responded to the photo I sent with something along the lines of, You’re kidding me. But oh no, I was definitely not kidding. I was really wearing that ensemble out the door and I was feeling confident about it. After a few more messages defending my attire, I was on my way to the airport to spend nearly three weeks in Denver and Boulder, Colorado, for work. There were multiple training gigs that I was looking forward to sinking my time into; it would be nice to have something else to focus my mind on for a while. Upon the completion of my time in Colorado, I was set to go to San Francisco for another dear friend’s wedding… that I was set to officiate.
Little did I know that not only was I going to Colorado for work, but I was also on my way to be recruited for a cult. Hashtag FOR REAL. I was not sure if I had the mental capacity to reckon with this information, nor was I prepared for the reality of refusing the advances of the cult wizard repeatedly throughout my stay. The purpose of my visit was to work, but instead the indoctrination framework had been laid and I was landing in a gooey insect hotel of deception and lies. It was a trap.
I deplaned in Denver and was soon thereafter
kidnapped picked up by my colleague, the wizard. Because we were running a company together and since I was set to be in Colorado for such a long stretch, I thought it made sense that she recommended that I stay with her (the wizard) for nearly 3 weeks. Turns out, it wasn’t so much about the amount of work we would be doing together, it was more about the fact that she wanted me to participate in a 9-day ‘workshop’ that she was helping conduct, as a wizard. Hashtag wizard. I can’t say the word WIZARD enough… it kills me. WIZARD! The workshop was for awakening the mind and body in order to go back to the “way we were”… um. What?! Thankfully, while I had lost my mind wholly in terms of fashion choices, I still had some wits about me when it came to becoming a brainwashed minion to some cult. The wizard insisted, nearly constantly, that I participate in the workshop. And I have to admit, she was wearing me down– fatigue from saying “no” was setting in and I was starting to become more open to the idea of attending the 9-day course that I was told was not a spiritual experience, but a self-exploration of sorts. Even as I was fatigued, something felt off– I felt an obligation to be open to the conversation about attending simply because she was putting a roof over my head and giving me a place to sleep, albeit outside of Boulder city limits in a rather desolate housing development.
The first night that I was a guest in her home, we talked business around the kitchen table. After some decisions were made and some laughs were shared… and after she asked me personal questions about my recent marriage, it felt like maybe we were beyond the recruitment phase of the trip– but oh, I was so wrong.
The wizard returned and asked, “So, can I ask if you have had any more thoughts about the workshop? You mentioned you would think about it, and I just wanted to check-in if you have any questions about it, or if you can tell me what some of your hesitations are.”
IT IS A FUCKING CULT! I was yelling in my mind, but instead I maintained my composure and simply responded, “I have a therapist and I have my sobriety, and for me, those things sustain me and I am not looking for anything else right now.”
She countered like a good wizard, “You know, we have a lot of people in recovery who come to the workshop and find it is a really nice counterpart to their lives.”
I agreed with her that it was likely a true story for those people, but I would really like to not be a part of the workshop. The wizard spoke, “You know, with everything that just happened to you in Europe and with the things you have going on in your life, it just sounds like maybe you’re poised to really benefit from this program.”
“Yeah,” I responded. “But no. Thank you.”
She looked at me, with those big eyes– she really was a lovely person. “Would you at least consider, for me, doing the 1 hour introduction? Either I can guide you through it, or I can ask one of my colleagues (WIZARDS!) to do it– it is very personal work, and I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable in any way.”
GUESS WHAT!? YOU ARE ALREADY MAKING ME FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE! “Sure,” I said. “I will consider it.” I could feel myself caving under the wizard’s spell… “You know what? I will do the one hour intro course and you can walk me through it. I don’t mind.” BIG MISTAKE.
I just consented to something I didn’t want to do, abandoning my diligence in refusal and allowing the wizard into my soul, ever so slightly. “That’s great!” She said, “Let’s do it tomorrow. Now, you’re sure? I don’t want you to feel like I pressured you into anything.” That’s so funny, one could laugh at it. The truth is, she DID pressure me… she wouldn’t ease up until I said ‘yes’, and so in order to get her to back off, I forced myself to play the wizard’s game. She scheduled the brainwashing for the next day. I was ready to say goodbye to life as I had come to know it, and was willing to say hello to the wizards and aliens and anything that fell outside of the human/mortal realm. I had given in, and I would soon be on my way down the slippery slope of the cult.
Morning came and the house was empty. Wizards convene before sun-up in order to make mystical plans, so I had free reign over the house. It was just me, tumbleweeds, prairie dogs, and the thin air of Boulder. After a relaxing morning and some work, I was soon on my way to the hotel ballroom where the workshop was to take place. I got out of the taxi and walked into the hotel lobby where it was abuzz with wizards and masters (the lower form of non-beginners in the workshop) and everyone slowly turned to look at me directly or give me a little side-eye– they knew why I was there. Some wizards smiled brightly at me, “HELLO! WELCOME!”
Everyone was clearly drinking an adequate share of CRAZY, and so I just said that I was looking for a specific wizard. Everyone looked back into a hallway, and there she was, standing high above everyone else wearing a dark cloak that went from a third floor balcony to the first floor marble floors. Under the hood, her eyes glowed red and she saw me immediately– our eyes locked and I was no longer walking of my own fruition, but floating towards her. What the hell is happening?!
Soon, I was right next to her. As I stood and looked at the wizard before me, there was no longer a cloak, no more glowing eyes, no ominous laugh or skeletal fingers– it was just the wizard who had picked me up the day before, her eyes kind and welcoming. “I’m so glad you came,” she said,