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Headspace.

At first Eva was simply some attractive blond-haired girl I had never met who occasionally commented on my MySpace blog. She first responded to a blog post I made on body language and expressed interest in the ideas of using it to build or break rapport more consciously as opposed to reacting instinctively.

Later, I learned that some of my friends — Zeke, who I worked with, and his girlfriend Abbey in particular — knew her and occasionally I would see her here and there in passing. I saw her in the downtown Halloween festival, dressed as a Vietnam era American soldier. Then she had come in to the fast food joint with a few of her friends to visit some girl I worked with at — again in costume, so-to-speak, only this time her and her two or three friends seemed to be wearing layered and oversized clothing, as if they were children who had just raided a thrift store. 

She was pretty, childlike and playful, so it seemed to me through our brief encounters, and through her MySpace presence I found her to be incredibly intelligent as well. There was a darkness in her, too. All of it made her so alluring to me. 

Through observation and word of mouth it became clear that she was addicted to exercise, frequently going to the gym or walking around town, frequently engaged in strict diets, cleanses, and there were occasional whispers among those who knew her about her vomiting up lunch. It all screamed Bulimia Nervosa. 

 It went deeper than that, though; she was intense, through and through. She always pushed herself. She seemed to prefer getting into a state where everything was stripped away, where she was fully immersed in her object of concentration, where she could shed herself down to naked attention and operate on will alone.

Her mental strength fascinated me. 

When she finally began coming into the restaurant as a pit stop on her walks, sometimes to kill time reading or writing, I got the chance to learn more about her directly. Being physically around her, it was unmistakable now: the girl had a distinct energy about her, which is to say that oftentimes I could literally feel it, as if she was a psychic furnace. Radiant despite the aforementioned darkness. 

From her friend request to hearing about her, from seeing her at a distance to finally talking with her — she seemed to be slowly spiraling into my life, shedding layers along the way, and it got deeper still — unfathomably so — on October 6, 2007.

It was raining. She came in after my lunch break, probably around eight o’clock, while I was working in the kitchen and covering other people’s breaks. Glancing over the grills and up at the counter, I saw a head of blond hair up front. Later I confirmed my suspicions that it was her who had come in.

Watching as she sat down in the far corner of the dining room, on one of the high tables and chairs behind the drink fountain, I smiled. Her usual seat, nine times out of ten, and a damned good choice. Its the best seat in the house for a people-watcher. If I were a visitor and not an employee, that’s exactly where I’d sit. Its secluded and offers a view of damn near everything possible and, as an added bonus, you’ve got a brick wall covering your backside.

Steve, our manager with the muffled voice, he sticks his head beneath the monitor from up front, looking at me, but before it even comes flying out his mouth I tell him I know, I tell him that I saw Eva come in and sit down. He laughs, amused at the fact that I know exactly where he’s going with this.

What could be more obvious, though? Right after she walks in the door, everyone keeps telling me how I should go for her. Asking me if she’s single. Asking me how old she is.

“She’s hot,” they tell me. And I go, ”I know, nothing could be more obvious, but its not like that. Its not that way. The girl’s not interested in me, not in that sense, and I can deal with that.”

After a short while, I step up front. I say hello to her by means of making eye contact and shouting, across the dining room, ”It’s the beautiful Eva,” which thankfully elicits a warm smile from her and not embarrassment or some painfully evident awkwardness, which was what I’d come to fear when the sentence was not even halfway out my mouth.

I walk over and ask how she’s doing, noticing as I do so that she’s reading what looks like sheet music. For quire at college, no doubt. The whole thing about her being shoved to the position of Alto, even though she really feels more suited for a Soprano.

She asks me if it has stopped raining outside and I tell her no, it hasn’t. She has to walk the whole way home, she tells me, and if it is still raining when the restaurant closes she’s going to hang out in my Explorer until I’m off work and she’s going to have me drive her back to her house. She seemed to expect in the very least some playful rebuttal on my behalf, but I shrugged and said that was fine. I had no problem, so long as she wasn’t a serial killer.

And after a short conversation (during which I manage to play it cool but am actually so nervous I can hardly remember a word of what was said) I announce that I’m going out for a smoke. I don’t invite her out with me as I did last time she stopped by. It wasn’t my intention to be rude, of course, it’s just that last time she was here and I did so she followed me outside after gathering up her things. Had a short-but-sweet conversation. Then, as we spoke in the midst of my smoking, her mother drove by and she was taken away. I didn’t want that to happen again. I also didn’t want her to know I had lied, and it really had stopped raining.

After smoking and then doing some work, I notice Steve is chilling at a table doing nothing, with the ever-annoying Derek sitting across from him. They’re just chatting. Steve’s a manager, and so I figure if he was just lounging around doing nothing than I certainly shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so. Guiltless, I then casually go and sit down across from Eva, who is in the middle of writing a poem. Its about some children in the woods and I think they get murdered towards the end. She can’t finish the poem and, after a wonderful but brief reading to me, she informs me she’s given up on concluding it.

This girl, she makes me so curious.

I want to ask her about the guy I saw coming up to her table while I was in back kitchen, but I don’t. She tells me that she just gave her phone number to him, that she’s been asked for it now a few times by random guys. It always happens in groups, she says. She’ll get approached and asked for her number by guys several times in a really short time period and then not again, not once, for a long time.

“Maybe it happens during hormonal peaks,'” I offer, suggesting that perhaps she is shooting out pheromones like mad. Or perhaps its something more along the lines of a psychic ability that gets amped up during that period. I keep speculating that all the weird, supernatural-like stuff happens to me during such peaks, and that’s probably behind my suggestion.

She makes a face. “I don’t like that word,” she says. ‘”Whore,'” she says, pausing. Then: ‘”Moan.'”

“All right then,'” I say, smiling, ‘”sexual peaks, then.”

She saw the Spiky Dikes (as I affectionately called them) the other day, which she indicates to me not verbally but by motioning her hands over an invisible mohawk on top of her head. I explain how its not really accurate now, considering how I had recently learned that Zoie, the little one, is a closet bisexual and not lesbian. She comes back with the fact that “Spiky Dikes” still has a nice sound to it, so I shouldn’t abandon the title. I find that I agree, but you always try to strive for accuracy, you know?

Surprisingly, I find that I’m not all that shy about bringing up the fact that Zoie perplexes me in much the same way as Eva here. For some reason, I just can’t read the two of them like I feel I can with most people. They simply feel different, which is hard for me to explain in words.

I told her how Anne, my ex, was kind of like that, too. Whenever Anne and I brushed upon the subject of feeling people’s vibes or I confessed how sometimes I felt I could feel other people’s emotions, sort of like psychic empathy, especially through the eyes, but how it was harder for me with her, Anne thought that maybe it had something to do with her wandering eye. If she held her eyes in place for a certain length of time, one of the eyes would start veering, just slightly. I always secretly thought that maybe the close connection Anne and I have on a certain, deep level made us erect certain barriers in defense of one another. Still, I could never be sure exactly what it was.

As I continued to talk with Eva, though, and our conversation seemed to get more involved, there seemed to be this intoxicating wave of emotion, or something, in the air. It was as if my mind was penetrating through some kind of membrane. Eventually, I started catching definite things from her — emotions, impressions, potent vibes — just like I do from normal people only the intensity was amazing, the reception crisp and clear. It was like some psychic form of tunnel vision.

There was one point where it almost seemed that I caught a sex vibe from her, which confused me so much I had to look away for a second. She noted it, too — the fact I’d looked away — and seemed to think it was something she had said, but I just told her no, it wasn’t that, there was just too much going on at once. I wasn’t even entirely certain what I meant by that, either, but something strange and wonderful was going on. It was like I was riding the wave of some supernatural high. I had to wonder, though: was I really seeing what was there, or was I throwing that out and was it bouncing back at me like some psychic echo?

As we went on talking, the rapport seemed to get deeper and deeper and ever-more intense. I mean this in no cheesy way, either. It’s not a poetic metaphor or anything of the like. It was literally the experience of some weird, almost psychic bond. I was reading things from her ever-clearer. Just emotions. Just impressions.

At one point I’m looking at her. I don’t think we’re talking, but I’m just gazing at her for a moment, unable to help myself. It wasn’t a particularly naughty gaze, but I think to myself, about her, ”god, you’re sexy,” as I look her way.

It was just internal dialog, but it seemed clearer and louder than usual. Like subjective stereo. Like a psychic echo. Not only that, but I had the distinct impression that she had heard me.

That I was in her head, or she was in mine, or we were temporarily fused in some mutual headspace. Maybe it was in her eyes, the way she lifted her head and looked at me. Perhaps it was in her facial expression, or perhaps it was just her vibe. The important thing here is that for some reason her hearing me think did not, at the moment, seem all that unusual.

So then I think, but this time intentionally to her, as a sort of experiment or test, ”You didn’t hear me, did you?” And she shakes her head, as a matter of factly, yes, up and down, up and down. And I eye her suspiciously, almost teasingly. “No you didn’t,” I think to her. She stops a second, as if hesitating, but just a second later she begins to shake her head no, side to side to side to side to side. Satisfied, I slam my hand on the table and say, with a smile — and I say it aloud this time — ”Good,” and casually get up out of the chair and make my exit passed the drink tower.

It was so natural.

Nothing from, ”you didn’t hear me, did you?” to the point that I got up seemed at all unusual or frightening. But as soon as I was halfway passed the drink tower adrenaline shot through me. I try to tell myself I didn’t remember it correctly, but it just happened. I try to tell myself that it didn’t happen, that its impossible that it happened, but it just happened.

Didn’t it?

Maybe I interpreted it wrong. Maybe she didn’t hear my thoughts, maybe I said it out loud. Maybe I was thinking out loud without realizing it.

This is how it goes. After it happens, I always walk away and try to convince myself it didn’t. It always seems to work this way with any occurrence that seems even vaguely supernatural. The reason is I don’t want to be crazy, and part of me is still gripping onto that quaint superstition — you know, the one where crazy people don’t ever think they’re crazy — and using it as a sort of defense mechanism.

If every time something weird happens I make sure to distance myself from the experience by means of constantly questioning everything, to distance from the experience by casting doubt upon the soundness of my mental functions and perceptions, well, then I’m being as sane as possible. I can’t be entirely sane, of course, because I still accept it might be true, but I can’t be entirely insane, either. Instead, I’m in this cozy gray-area, this safety-zone of the middle-ground. I’m secure in the land of the eternal maybe. See how the logic works?

There’s just one problem. The problem is, of course, the fact that I know damn well that crazy people can indeed know something is wrong with them. They can even know they’re downright bonkers, and this doesn’t necessarily make them, by some form of thought-magick, not crazy anymore. And since I know this train of illogic to be a superstition, I can’t hold onto this all-encompassing denial for too long without having to whip up new excuses for distancing.

Always there seems to be room for excuses, though. Room for doubt. After all, nothing is for certain. There’s no way to confirm anything, really, is there? In the end, when its all said and done, you can only offer yourself a shiver and a shrug. And least that’s how its been to me.

At least until now.

I walked back to the kitchen and I didn’t look behind me. The art of surviving the weird, be it supernatural or psychotic episode, is to let it roll off you like falling rain. Not to hide from it. Not to put your head up with your mouth wide open and drown in the drip-drops, either. Just walk along like nothing’s wrong. Go on about your day. Much like working on a painting or writing something, you can’t always really grasp what’s going on while you’re up close. Sometimes you’ve got to turn your back to it and walk or run a distance and then, after turning around and glimpsing the whole from a more detached perspective, you might be able to better grasp the overall nature of the experience. As in what it was, how and why it happened, what it means.

Often it takes years.

Of course, denial is often just the result of fear. And since my fear in this case is that of the unknown, I have no precise definition or clear nature to deny, so I deny the experience totally. I often find myself literally saying to myself how this, whatever this is, ”could not have happened.”

Next time I look out there in the dining room she’s grabbing her bags and leaving.

It could have been a hallucination or delusion that erupted out of some not-so-latent psychosis of mine, but it happened. It was real in the experiential sense, and to deny it even that degree of reality is as blind as lying blind faith in a singular interpretation regarding its reality.

So was it a hallucination, a delusion, strictly an event in my own, private headspace? Was I acting so weird it made her feel incredibly uncomfortable and that’s why she’s leaving? Or did it really happen, and that’s what made her feel so awkward she had to pack up her stuff and proceed to leave at just this moment?

I quickly make my way up front, and I catch her at the corner of the counter, and I look dead at her with wide, sarcastic eyes, my chin up, and point a scolding finger at her. Fixing her with an eye, I say, ”You were going to leave without saying goodbye,” accusing her in a teasing fashion.

”No,” she says in calm defense, staring for a moment, then looking away, then looking back. And then, sweetly, with just a tinge of sarcasm and a roll of the head as she speaks, she says, ”bye,” smiles ever-sweetly, and walks away, out of my line of sight.

Try as I might, I can’t stop regurgitating and dissecting the whole episode the rest of the night. I need desperately to tell someone, and I so wish my old friend Channing was around. I knew I could tell Abbey. Even if she didn’t believe me, she was at least accepting enough of my stories that they’d listen without judging or feeding my self-doubt. They would give me rational feedback.

I text Abbey, through my cell phone: ”Weirdness.” It isn’t until I’m on my way home that she texts me back, saying only, ”Nice to see you, too, pal.”

Shortly thereafter, she calls me, and though I hate talking on my cell while driving, I pick up and explain to her the fundamentals of what happened. How it was just like those kids years ago, those five year olds, namely the second one, which made eye contact with me. Our minds fused and he seemed to be able to throw visuals into my head. An image of him, like a clever, surreal cartoon image of him with a big, magnified face, huge eyes and this big, Cheshire Cat grin. Only with Eva, though the sensation was too similar to be a coincidence, it wasn’t visuals she threw at me but words I threw at her, or words that she took out of me.

I don’t even know if it was her or if it was me. As a matter of fact, I told Abbey, I can’t really say whether what I think happened really happened. I could just be fucking crazy.

She tells me that I’m not crazy and that I should talk to Eva about it, that I should just ask her, and I should do it soon. I should do it right away, say something before Eva forgets about it or dismisses the whole thing.

I agree with her that I should just swallow my pride and ask Eva right away, but the assumption that Eva would forget such an experience or dismiss it seems strange to me. I don’t see how that would be possible at all. It blew my mind, after all, and weird shit happens to me all the time. Not exactly like this, of course — not shit that I could usually potentially validate as something objective, or at least inter-subjective — but in this general, seemingly-paranormal category.

My final decision, and I reach it before reaching my apartment, is that I’ll send her a message about it through MySpace and I’ll be as vague as possible. That way in whatever way she responds it should be evident whether what I thought happened really did happen. I was worried about it because if this turned out to be nothing, just a hallucinatory-delusional psychological cocktail of mine, that everything I’d ever experienced in this supernatural category would be undermined. Proof, once and for all, of my insanity. It wouldn’t be, not really, but it would feel that way to me and, upon relating the story to others — which I would do for the sake of my honesty — it would also look and feel that way to everyone who had the ears or eyes to read or listen.

I got home and I wrote her:

”My reality check may have indeed bounced,” I wrote, ”and I certainly don’t dismiss that possibility. I may seriously regret discussing this, specifically for the reason I may make myself out to sound completely insane in the process, but I need to ask. If I don’t do so promptly I may kick myself in the ass for it later. For my benefit, I’ll keep my question as vague as possible: Towards the end of our conversation this evening, did anything particularly strange occur on your end? Shall we say, paranormal or supernatural-wise… ? Please respond as soon as possible. And be specific. Please. I’m a little perplexed right now. Very perplexed.”

The next day she wrote me a simple, one-sentence reply: ”I already answered you.”

I didn’t respond. Before opening the message, I had been sure I was going to be shot down, find evidence that nothing happened, and I was fully prepared to deal with the ramifications. I thought maybe if it turned out none of this was real I would seriously consider taking medication. Atypical anti-psychotics. Accept my total madness and move on.

Turns out it really happened.

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