As a child, I liked to lie on my back on the bed and hang my head off the edge so that my vision was parallel with the floor and the whole house was essentially upside down. Then I would begin to imagine the ceiling as the floor and what it would be like to walk through this upside down house (all furniture being affixed in its original position, or, at least, not subject to gravity’s pull). A tiny curb-like hurdle stood between all passageways. What was once a stairway became a safety ramp with its less smooth cousin following overhead. Foyers or other, odd open spaces would sometimes create little open-topped box holes in which to rest or hide. It was as if the whole structure were new and all its accoutrements mere decorative stalactites. The familiar flipped into a more austere modernity full of flat planes and emphasized angles and lines.
So simple a means to change one’s perspective and yet time erodes this skill. Devours it slowly and invisibly like termites eating a whole house. Until you’re stuck. Your vision is locked. Your reality is a solid, unchanging structure to which you may or may not be enamored. You can no longer walk on the ceiling. Forever, the floor has claimed you as its own. Permanence. An illusion that has become your reality.
Maybe you give into this. Maybe, instead, you awkwardly mount the bed, roll to your back… You hang your head off the edge wanting to recapture something you can’t quite remember. But the vertigo kicks in. Nausea. No longer dependent on your nose, your glasses slip off and clatter to the floor. You can’t breathe. It feels like you’re drowning. You’re either dieing or it’s a panic attack. You roll back over and gasp for air. Slowly, things right themselves. Your heart slows back to its normal steady beat. The vertigo recedes. Your throat relaxes.
If your hearing were better, you could hear the humming chorus of a trillion satiated termites.