Previously on Nayrotica.
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,
“Um. Sure. What do I do?” I asked.
Her mouth curled slightly upward, “Let’s go find a space over there.” She pointed in the direction of other pairings of people chatting intimately. Every cell in my body was screaming, RUN! RUN! You don’t need to do this!!! But it was too late for that; I had committed myself to this alien way of life… well, at least for an hour.
The first part of the introduction was a video– and I have to admit, it was difficult not to laugh throughout the entire thing. People were practically bouncing, jumping and laughing in slow motion throughout the entire video. My initial thoughts were,
- Who produced this and can I personally fire them?
- How is watching people talk about a central founder of a “non-belief system” like he is a deity supposed to convince me that this is the thing that I want to do with my life?
- Why is everyone so happy?
- Why is everyone so WHITE?!
- The logo looks like a movie poster… directed by James Cameron.
- How can the wizard sitting next to me, someone I once thought of as an accomplished and respectable person, be watching the same video with me and being moved to smile and embrace it as if it were groundbreaking cinematography?
- I mean seriously… where are the people of color??
- I wish I was in a sea of people rather than 1-on-1 because then I could tune out– but instead, she was watching me to gauge my reaction.
- Ugh. IT IS STILL GOING!
- Finally. It is over.
I feigned a positive reaction, “Wow. That’s… amaaaaazing.”
“It is really remarkable, isn’t it? So what did you think about the video– was there anything that jumped out to you?” She inquired.
Um. Everyone looked catatonic and brainwashed and didn’t have free will. Ummmm. The production values were very low for a course that charges a butt-load to become a wizard. Um. Watching the video made me think that I definitely made the right choice by denying your advances to get me to do the entire 9 day course.
“Right? It is remarkable to see how affected people are and how moving the workshop is for people.” She agreed with me?
“Mmmmhmmm,” I interjected.
So lost in the beauty of the world she lived in, I was able to say anything and she would interpret that as a positive response to the cult and its culty leaders– of which she was now one. “So let’s move on to the next exercise…” Oh shit. There was more. And they were exercises.
She played a PowerPoint presentation for me– and within the slideshow, there were moments where we would do mindfulness exercises. These seemed applicable to life. You go, wizards! However, then the lessons behind them were no longer about mindfulness, it was about becoming the base selves that we are no longer– the person that never existed… the person that started us all: some sort of other-worldly self that we are all connected to. I was a good sport. I played along. I performed emotion and was “moved,” visibly. The silly exercises of looking at the floor, then the ceiling, then the floor, then the ceiling were absurd. It all culminated in a big hug that was supposed to seal the deal for her recruitment expedition. “So, what do you think? Want to do more?” She inquired.
“Can I think about it a little more?” Playing my cards carefully, knowing that a flat-out NO could get me killed amongst all the wizards. Or if not killed, detained. Or perhaps the very worst outcome would have been more recruitment attempts by the other wizards.
She looked at me, confused, with a look that said, ‘why isn’t he signing up and thanking me for the experience?’ She then uttered, “Well, we get started tomorrow and I will need to know very soon if you’re interested in participating. Registration will take a bit…” She trailed off.
“Great! I will let you know very soon. I just feel pretty, um, raw right now, and I could use a little time to reflect.” This brought a smile to her face. “Of course,” she said, “I completely understand. I am glad you found it useful.” USEFUL!? I was counting the minutes until it was over! I actually thought about leaving in the middle of it, but then didn’t want to die in my sleep in your home, so I stuck it out! USEFUL!? This is a load a malarkey! And I am sad that so many people pay a lot of money to feel like they belong somewhere in the world! “Me too,” I said. “Thank you.”
I turned and walked toward the exit, which was about 2 football fields away. Like in Poltergeist, the corridor elongated and I felt like I was getting nowhere. Meanwhile, as if they knew that I was about to escape, all the wizards turned to slowly gaze at me. I felt the laser-like stare coming from every direction, giving uncomfortable smiles from time to time, but mostly just quickening in pace towards the exit. Wizard eyes all trained on me, they began to look at me less blankly, more inquisitively, as if to say, why are you not headed toward registration? Each brow furrowed a little more with each step and I was careful not to break out into a full-on sprint to guarantee my exit. I presented calmly, while panicking on the inside. Oh shit. THEY KNOW! I am never going to make it out of here. I smiled at each of them as if they were my new best friends. FUCK FUCK FUCK! I am toast. 50 yards separated me from the door. They were closing in on my exit, some coming towards the door… I looked behind me at my personal glassy-eyed wizard, and she remained blank in her stare. Was she the grand wizard?! Her face neutral and washed of brain, I acknowledged her with a smile, and she simply just watched. Is she waiting for me to be captured? Does she know something I don’t?! Why is she staring? Who is the shell of a person I used to know?! 20 feet left, almost there. There was one wizard carefully stationed at the door…
“How was it?” he asked.
I looked at him, breaking my stride, with beads of sweat on my brow that betrayed my outward calmness. “How was what?” I countered, knowing what he meant, but refusing to give him the satisfaction of such an easy question. After all, I didn’t know this
man wizard, and my mother always told me not to talk to strangers…
He looked at me, a more knowing stare, “You know what I mean. We understand you… And soon, you will understand us.”
“Huh? Oh, I just stopped by to see my colleague– we had to talk ab–,” I was soon interrupted by the all-knowing wizard.
“You’re not ready. I get it, but you will be soon. Once you give in, you will be surprised what we can do for you,” he told me. “The wizard you met with, she’s one of our best. She really knows the material, and you are lucky to have her as your guide.”
“Sure,” he conceded.
“Well, thanks pal. It has been swell. Oh. Look at the time,” I wasn’t wearing a watch. “Gotta run!” And with that, I left the tractor beam of wizard particle stare. I had made it past the precipice, and now I could get on with my day of WORK! Which was canceled… conveniently? You see, the reason I was planning on being in Boulder and Denver for so long was because my boss, the wizard, and I were planning on putting together a series of trainings for different agencies and I was supposed to go conduct the trainings while she was wizard-ing.
HOWEVER, once I arrived only about 25% of the work came to fruition, so the jobs that I had come to understand as guaranteed work and income, turned out to be nothing more than wizardly optimism. And yet, I was in Boulder with poor mobile reception, a sparse bank account, and a broken marriage halfway across the world. I was counting on the distraction and the income, and while I was able to do a little of the work, it was just a drop in the bucket compared to what I was anticipating. It was then that I began to realize more wholly that my colleague, the wizard, had made empty professional promises, having instead set her sights on my recruitment into the cult. Perhaps that was the underlying reason for my trip, not work after all. This was a hard lesson for me. I believe in the goodness that is inherent in people, and I trust them to a fault. This is not to say that the wizard wasn’t well-intentioned, but she was no longer operating on the same plane of existence that I was, and therefore she had lost touch with the reality that I came to call every day. Additionally, as a business owner (albeit of a business that had no business model and no operating budget and no collateral and nothing more than a contract to contract existence for at least 15 years), a business that she was attempting to sell to me, it was her job to spend the money responsibly, rather than fly me around to hang out in her home with the hopes of booking work and recruiting me to participate in the wizard workshop. But I am not the typical minion and I am not so easily brain-washed, so I resisted. And resisted. And caved for her benefit. And then resisted.
The trip was bookended with some actual work engagements, but in the interim, I was a prisoner in Boulder. With the newfound knowledge of my boss’s mental state, I started to take matters into my own hands. It was time to make an escape plan; it was imminent. I knew that I could bide my time while she was in the workshop, avoiding contact with her on most days: she left for the brain-washing session before sunrise and came back around 10pm. I just made sure I was “sleeping” until she left, and was “sleeping” when she arrived home. It was shady and it felt disingenuous, but it was the only way I could imagine successfully avoiding any more vomit-inducing recruitment talks. However, after my careful attempts to turn out lights before she arrived home, she was on to me. Upon arriving home she would send me text messages: “All ok?” “Can we talk?” “How was your day?” “Any word from the fella?” She pulled at the fresh wounds in my heart, doing her best to engage the side of me I so desperately wanted to conceal from her and the workshop. It was difficult to navigate this situation since I knew her from before she was a wizard… or I should say that I at least knew her before she became an active recruiter for the cult– I cannot remark on the date or time that she actually became a wizard. Is this a metaphysical transformation? Is there a graduation? Or is it simply a financial transaction? We formerly WORKED together, there was no pretense of work followed up by the focused heeby-jeeby-recruitment talk.
Initially, I blamed my early-to-bed-late-to-rise tendencies on jet-lag. Eventually, however, this was no longer a reasonable excuse. And so, after about a week of responding to her texts the next morning, knowing that only 2 days of the workshop remained, I needed a fresh strategy. I still hadn’t decided how to get out of Boulder without the wizard knowing, so that meant I would have to face her head-on in a final duel that may leave only one of us standing. For the next 24 hours I researched bus schedules to Denver, formulated exit strategies, and sharpened my mental resistance game. I knew she would employ her wizardly ways in order to convince me to stay, and perhaps even bind me to the location where she could most profoundly absorb my life energy and change the course of my existence… in her home.
Late one night, after she returned from her long day of workshop-ing, I left my door ajar and the light on in my bedroom. I wanted her to know that I was awake, but what she didn’t know is that I had planned my escape from Boulder. It was all about to get very real.
I greeted her in the kitchen, “Hey. How was your day?”
“You’re awake! Are you feeling better?” The wizard asked.
Furrowing my brow, “I’m fine. I am great, actually.” Attempting to project comfort and confidence, I was disallowing her any opening for an attack on my emotional state. She could tell something was up. She countered, “Are you sure you are fine? You seem a little tense.” She looked at me inquisitively, sniffing out the situation.
“Tense? Nope. Just thinking about the training in a couple of days. Speaking of, I decided to go stay in Denver with a friend while the training is happening. I figured it makes more sense for me to be there, rather than commuting every day from here.” I was beaming with power, and silently quaking in my slippers. I was afraid what would come next– which tactic would she employ? How was she going to counter-attack?
She looked at me, slightly offended and hurt. “You don’t have to leave. I wish you wouldn’t.”
“I know– it just seems like it would be best.”
“I am looking forward to spending time with you after the workshop,” the wizard pressed on. “I don’t mind driving you down daily.”
I smiled, “That just seems absurd. You don’t need to do that. I know you can’t be at the training, so it just doesn’t make sense for you to show up just to leave…”
“I really don’t mind. But I understand if you want to be closer to the training. So I can take you Monday morn–” I interrupted her. “Well, I am going to head down before that.” It was Thursday night. “I booked a bus ticket and I am leaving tomorrow.”
“What?” She was astounded. “What do you mean? Tomorrow?”
I steadied myself, “Yep. Tomorrow afternoon. I am going to catch a bus to Denver and head to my friend’s place.”
She fell silent.
“Okay,” I continued. “Sleep well. I am going to turn in.” I started to walk away, when all of a sudden–
Oh shit. It was starting… I turned back to her. She carried on, “What do you MEAN you’re leaving?! I did not fly you here in order to have you abandon me when we are supposed to be working!”
I gulped, “You’re right. You didn’t. You flew me here so that I could be a part of your special workshop– which was deceptive. The work that I was supposed to be doing just fell through the cracks and suddenly I have the perfect amount of time to participate in your little charade. Seems pretty convenient, don’t you think?”
She looked at me with those eyes– the eyes of someone who is very good at convincing you that it’s you, not me. “That’s how you feel? I was doing this for you in your time of need.”
“Stop pretending. This was never about me. This is about some sort of recruitment bonus that you get for adding more minions to your faction of the wizard-verse. Well, guess what. I don’t want to be a part of it– I never wanted to be a part of it, and you have placed me in a very awkward position by asking me to attend over and over. So, in truth, that’s why I am leaving– I am going to do some actual work and then go somewhere where I will be able to rest after doing it, rather than walking on eggshells and hoping not to have awkward wizard talk every time I see you.”
She looked at me, her eyes glowing red, “I can take you to the bus stop tomorrow.” As I started to walk away again, she said, “Can we talk about this again soon? I want to make sure we are on the same page and that we can continue working together. We have a lot to do.”
I slowly turned around to look at her, “Goodnight… wizard.” Continuing to look at her for a minute, her chest was heaving as she breathed in and out. I struck a chord and I hoped to live to see the next morning.
Morning arrived and the birds chirped as the sun rose over the barren horizon outside of Boulder. My eyes came into focus and there above the head of my bed, the wizard was standing, looking at me. I quickly sat up, “Hi! What’s going on?!”
Blankly, she replied, “I was just leaving you a note,” pointing at the yellow sticky that she left on the desk in the room. “What time would you like me to bring you to the bus?”
“Oh,” I hesitated. “Um…” I gathered some of the blankets to mask some of my discomfort. “How about 2pm.”
“Okay,” she mono-toned, “see you then.” After a few disconcerting beats of locked eyes, she turned to walk out of the room like an automaton and my head followed her exit. I sat there, frozen. What was that?! Has she lost her mind?! As soon as I heard the front door slam and her car start then drive off, my statue-like pose broke and I was swiftly packing. Should I get out now? Make a run for it?! Or should I just wait it out? I decided on the latter, against better judgment. I wanted to salvage the relationship, uncertain of my reasons at first– but then it came down to: she owes me money for work that I have done and the work I am about to do. So, I kept that bridge as much in tact as possible… even if just temporarily.
After packing, I walked to the one café that was nearby and sat for a while. Just biding my time and hoping that there would be no more battles to survive, I sipped on a coffee and listened to the prairie dogs screaming at each other. Hours passed and I was content waiting there until my departure. When it was finally 1pm, I headed back to the house and waited for my ride to the bus stop. Just before 2pm she pulled up and just sat in the car. I took this as the indication that I should meet her out there, so I gathered my belonging and exited the house. She was staring forward in the driver’s seat, she opened the trunk, and I placed my belongings inside. As I opened the passenger door to sit, I said hello. “Hello,” she replied.
“How’s your day going?” I inquired.
“Cool. Thanks for the ride. I really appreciate it.”
With no affect, “Of course.”
And with that, we were off to the bus station, riding in silence. As we pulled up, I thanked her again and told her that I would be in touch this week with updates on the training, and grabbed my things out of the trunk before closing the passenger door. As I crossed back around to shut the door I noticed that she had rolled the window down. Slamming the door, I was about to say goodbye when she turned and looked at me through the open window, “Nathan? This isn’t over.” And with that threat, she sped off. I stood there, an imaginary pool of urine growing underneath me. I watched the car kick up dust and audibly sighed,
To be continued…