Déjà Vu

It’s disturbingly familiar. Not the carpeting—all hotels I’ve been to have ugly smelly carpets. Something about the hallways, the placement of the elevator, the restaurant in the atrium. Something’s not right. But I can’t think what it is.

I feel myself tear up.

I enter the elevator. I know I’ve been in such an elevator before. My brain is unable to keep up with the motion of the elevator rising, it’s operating on a time delay. The back wall of the elevator is all glass. Each floor marked by railings, all overlooking the atrium, on the first floor, and the second, all the way to the fifth.

I know I’ve been here before. The vertigo… I’ve experienced this exact same vertigo before, a few years ago.

I have to turn away from the glass wall to face the doors. I feel disoriented and dizzy when the elevator jolts to a stop at the fifth floor, and I wobble slightly as I walk out.

And it clicks. It’s the same hotel we stayed in before and after my brain surgeries.

The tears are about to spill over. I clench my teeth and swallow again and again. I can’t cry. I need to say goodbye to Sarah. I don’t want to worry her. I drop Sarah off at the door to her room and say my goodbyes.

Reason it telling me I’m not in Arizona, that I’m only experiencing déjà vu. But my emotions tell me otherwise. I need to get out of there before… before what? Before fear overwhelms me? My teeth are chattering. Before I have a meltdown? The tears won’t melt away.

Only when I exit the doors into a gray rainy day does the tension in my muscles begin to ease. I feel an inner shift—I now know with every fiber of my being that I am not in Arizona. I reassure myself—in Arizona, exiting the hotel meant leaving the air conditioning behind to enter the scorching oven of the midday sun. Here it’s just wet, the rain pouring down. I’m in Ohio.

I’m all right. I left the hotel in Arizona behind nine years ago, to move on, into recovery. Into life.