Duran will be here any minute.

I’m in a parking garage, where he said he’d pick me up for our date. I look into the shard of glass I keep in my purse. People will tell you broken mirrors are bad luck, but this one has proved useful. A flash of black lace and pale skin, dark gloss on my lips. Within myself, I feel like room temperature peaches, like, where is my usual strength? Yet, I know the place that will give me that strength. Vivi, my meditation guru, told me I can access high vibrational energy anytime I close my eyes and go there. And no, it’s not the fucking ocean.

The place, for me, is underneath Los Angeles, right below the lake at Echo Park. I imagine myself riding one of those swan boats they have at the park to the middle of the lake to reach it. The sun is setting and there’s a reddish-violet tinge fogging up the glass exteriors of buildings in the distance. Palm trees wave like quiet brides. The lily pads glow green in the moonlight. Once at the center of the lake, I inhale, deep, and roots from the bottom of the waters rise up, take hold of the swan, Leda’s revenge, and mine. The roots ground me, swirl, pull me down in that whirlpool created by my mind. This part takes practice, to not let the waters get too big, to keep them parted just right, to descend. Have you ever meditated upon a peaceful place only for storm clouds to race in with a violence?

The roots pull me down in my swan throne, pull me down to the bottom of the lake, then down more, to what’s beneath the lake. It looks like a cave, but better because it’s filled with modern Italian furniture, like a polyhedron-shaped cabinet made by Ico Parisi, or a milk-pink Albini lamp. There are green leathers and black sheens. There are also about a hundred corridors, raw dirt, and stone tunnels in every direction, like spindly legs shooting out from a spider’s belly, or the jagged arteries spreading outward a lightning flash. The many possibilities make my eyes roll back in rapture. We can go anywhere from here, anywhere!

I trace my fingernails along the sides of one alcove. Dirt gets beneath my acrylics and falls. An orange glow is at the end of it, and Himalayan salt, and a bubbling hot tub. I’m like a moth, panting for strange light. Other corridors lead to gardens, stairwells to Hollywood Boulevard, the Chateau Marmont. From somewhere a car roars.

Yet, there is no food here, I realize now. That’s the one thing missing. Why did Vivi not tell me, even here there could be something void. I desire the flesh of a grapefruit and mushrooms sautéed in butter. Vanilla ice cream. Beef tartare. To eat you either go back up or bring something down.

All the walls shake, like the growl of a stomach or an engine, and I start, back in the parking garage, Duran’s car in front of me.

“Baby, hey!” He calls to me. He’s wearing metallic sunglasses and an Alice In Chains t-shirt, baggy black cargos like a mall goth. “Vicky!”

I slide into the car, renewed, glowing, hungry.