Glimpse of a Dream World

By
Before the summer of 2006, ab seiling in Nowheresville, New Zealand was never something I envisioned myself doing. Not until I was dangling off a two hundred foot cliff did I comprehend the seriousness of the situation. Guilty of peer pressure, I somehow let my friend, Blake, talk me into hiking up the side of a mountain to experience an extreme sport the equivalent of repelling, also known as ab seiling. Just a few moments earlier I was happily trekking across miles of mud and snow only to now find myself voluntarily backing off of a cliff that I had, again, voluntarily climbed. Madness appears to be the only word capable of summing up my circumstances. As I slowly shift my body to look up at the death grip I have on my rope, it almost feels like the harness isn’t there. If it wasn’t below zero I would have been able to feel the pain in my nearly-frostbitten knuckles. Fortunately for me, shock had taken over all aspects of my senses, not letting something as mundane as frostbite worry me. A slight breeze disrupts my concentration and I subconsciously drag my gaze at the ground beneath. I let my mind wander as I attempt to peer through the overbearing mist, flashes of my journey thus far flicker across my eyes as I fade into a daydream.

Rousing from a dead sleep as the main attraction of six laughing faces isn’t ordinarily a pleasant awakening. Nevertheless, my newfound best friends can never make me too mad.
“The best part,” Edric says while laughing, “is when her mouth and her eyes are open.”
“I feel bad for that trucker at the red light,” Blake starts. “That definitely wasn’t a pretty face to see smashed against the window!”
“That’s not fair,” I protest. “I told you I slept with my eyes open!”
So maybe they do get a little irritating, I say to myself. Nonetheless, when a travel bus has become your home and thirty-six strangers become your family, you cope. Leaving America two weeks ago has by far been the most terrifying and electrifying experience of my entire life. Touring Australia and New Zealand are two pretty big accomplishments to check off my list of “100 Places to See before I Die.” Most importantly, New Zealand is where they filmed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the most phenomenal picture of its time! When I left home that was all I really cared about, seeing where they filmed the Shire and Mount Doom. I naively assumed the rest of it was just another country. Incidentally, Blake shared my same enthusiasm for experiencing the legend of our generation first hand. To walk in the same fields as unrivaled actors, to find their footsteps, was a dream we both shared. I only later learned we also shared the same change of heart. Blake once confessed his relief in being an ignorant youth; however, he then praised his obsessive Lord of the Rings fad. I simultaneously agreed. Without it, he believes he never would have experienced the greatness of such a magnificent new world (Allen).

In the meantime, I drifted down a dark tunnel; a faint whisper and muted light caress my senses from the back of my mind. I knew I hadn’t been sleeping, but it felt the same nevertheless.
“Yoo-hoo? Hey mate, are you done with your tiki tour? Don’t be a picker, get to the bottom already. The next one’s got to use the dunny!” shouts a familiar voice from the edge of the cliff. I snap out of it and realize Jason, the man who strapped on my useless blue harness, is urging me to continue my descent. As I decide whether or not to heed his warning, I remember his abrasiveness while hooking me up to my line. If this ancient, blue harness wasn’t bad enough, Jason had to nearly cut off my circulation in attempts at “securing” me. I’ve come to realize Kiwis are a very particular kind of people. Mentally continuing to ignore Jason’s prodding, I meet his gaze and can barely see him narrow his eyes as I float back into a fresh memory.

Domineering ferns, still wet with condensation of this morning’s rain, reach out to trip my fellow travelers and me. Like an infectious disease, the undergrowth suffocates everything in its path, stretching across creeks and fallen trees in attempts at complete domination. The muddy, worn down path is lightly frosted with a thin layer of snowfall. As I heave my backpack higher on my tired shoulders I take a look around to get my bearings. It started out easy but we’ve been stumbling up this mountain for about three hours now. I left my watch behind but I’m guessing it’s around two in the afternoon. Blake is moving at an easy pace ahead of me but Edric seems to be falling behind so I stop for a breather. All I can think about is how seeing the Lord of the Rings on the big screen is no measure of how utterly breathtaking New Zealand really is. I’ve experienced so many unique things since I stepped foot onto this otherworldly place: snow-capped mountains parallel to sandy beaches, the famed Southern Alps, eerie cone volcanoes, and emerald mountains that literally roll into the sea.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” Edric mumbles.
“You could say that,” I reply. The damp log, unknowingly flaking bark and moss on my jeans, gives a little with the introduction of my weight. We sit there in silence for a while, just taking it all in.

Numb from the lack of movement, I can barely sense that same voice and light slowly come back into focus and I remember Jason, desperately trying to make me crawl down the rope.
“Hey mate! Get a move on!” Jason barks.
“O- -oh, sorry!” I manage to choke out and take one last look around. If I’ve ever felt corny in my whole life, it’s at this exact moment. Dangling there a fourth of the way down the cliff, my brain takes a snapshot, careful to file away every detail for later review. The clouds are clearing but each tiny, perfect snowflake heedlessly floats to the ground. A wintry veil of snow carefully laces the earth below as the temperature inevitably plummets to under fifteen degrees Fahrenheit. The silky sheen of the iridescent snow reflects the sun’s beaming rays creating a prismatic effect of infinite enchantment. A murmuring breeze wisps its way down the majestic slopes of the mountain, unknowing that its demise waits at the icy landscape below. Before it could break away, a sharp gust of arctic wind pierced the breeze generating an amorphous creature of endless twists and turns. I softly inhale and the breeze smells of evergreens and ice. The trees sway delicately, careful not to disturb the picture before me. Each icy, crystalline structure desperately grabs hold, cautious not to drift away from the branch that has become its home. Verdant mountains flow into the next, creating one sea of luscious green carpet. In this new world, nature’s exoticism is nearly hypnotizing. The tranquility of the land forms a permanent imprint on my psyche. The only slight disturbance is the rhythmic drizzle of a nearby stream. Alienated from the horrors of the modern world, one could get lost forever. Nevertheless, the concrete world that is my life cannot be shoved aside forever. So as I cast one last glimpse at a dream world, I begin my descent into reality.





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