Of course I wake up at 4:30 am, my alarm is set for 7. Should I get up and go? I could stay in bed for a couple more hours. I toss the question around in my head. I'm already awake and may not be back here soon. I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed. My bare feet touch the tile floor, it's not too cold. I can't see anything, but I'm prepared. The night before, I set up my clothes and travel mat next to the bed. I dress in the dark, silently.
I slide on my flip flops last. I walk slowly to the door and open it, a heavy fireproof door. I remember to use my hand to guide it shut so it doesn't slam. I step into the hallway, the light is bright, but not shocking. The walls and ceiling are plain, a light blue muddled pattern on the carpet. I walk just a few steps to the elevator and press the down button.
There are hundreds of people in this building, but it's quiet, like I am completely alone. The elevator doors open, it’s empty of course. I step in, the doors close and I descend six stories to the ground level. The doors open and I step out into a vast, empty lobby. I walk along the bright, hard tile. The only sound is my flip flops touching my feet with each step. Not another person in sight.
I turn right out of the elevators and head past the front desks, one for registration and one for activities. There's no one behind either one. Usually bustling with activity, it is completely still. I veer slightly to the left and walk down a long, hallway. High end stores greet me. John Bull, Balenciaga, Tory Burch, Gucci, Rolex. All the pretty windows and shiny wares, but no one to appreciate or purchase them. My own private shopping mall.
I keep walking and encounter a huge towering glass sculpture in the center of the wide walkway. Clear and made up of thousands of flower vases that have been melted and stretched out. It's like a towering pine tree made of glass, I descend a couple of stairs and circle off to the side of it to continue my journey.
My flip flops connect with carpet and it's darker, softer. A faint smell of cigar smoke, but no one is smoking. A whiff of alcohol, but no one is drinking. Hundreds of slot machines vying for my attention "Burning Wheel", "Crazy Money", "Pac-Man Wild". Lit up and flashing, none of them make a sound, visual noise. I pass dozens of tables, blackjack, craps, roulette, war. No dealers or players, no pit bosses or cocktail waitresses. My first time alone in a casino.
A few more steps and automatic double doors swing open, a huge whoosh of air fills my ears as I exit the building and walk along an open corridor. Concrete studded with seashells underneath my flip flops. On my left a security guard is fast asleep in his chair. The first person I encounter, he does not stir as I pass by. There are large benches and chairs shaped like shells to my right as I forge on.
I wander away from the building, toward the ocean. Following curved pathways that are dimly lit. Although I cannot see them, I know I pass by pools, towel huts, bars, snack stands and more. I keep the vast ocean to my right so I know I'm headed in the correct way. The maze of paths seems endless. I keep winding my way through in solitude.
My flip flops sink into deep sand. I hear the ocean first, the rhythmic hiss of the waves. Darkness envelops me, I pause and look up, stars dot the sky. The moon is a crescent, the illuminated part is at the bottom, it looks like a smile in the sky. I take a deep breath, it's salty and wet. I walk along the shore, as close to the ocean as possible, but not so close I end up getting completely wet. The humidity is overwhelming, I begin sweating as I trudge through the sand. Last part of my solo trek.
I look to my left and see a light I recognize and turn up the beach. I step onto a small concrete pad greeted by a sign ,"rinse your feet with the faucets behind you". I turn around to gaze at a wooden railing with shells lining the top of it. I put one of my hands on the rail and the other reaches down to open a spigot. My flip flops remain on my feet as I rinse sand from them. I connect with the familiar concrete walkways, there are puddles everywhere. The trees are soggy and heavy as I walk past the garden temple. I slip off my flip flops and ascend a couple of stairs. I step quietly on the wooden floor and sit on meditation pillows in the third row. Alone.