I am thirty-one thousand feet above the land and I am drunk. The woman beside me is reading a guide to being a stepmother and the two Latinos behind me have not stopped talking Spanish for the last hour. I’m twenty-three dollars into the liquor cabinet of the 747 and the stewardesses are starting to point at me. Our pilot has a penchant for turbulence and we’ve spent the last forty-five minutes bouncing around like me on my last visit to Teresa, the sweet little call girl that likes things rough, up against the walls. I think I’m going to be sick.
Although nothing awaits me when I arrive to LA - nothing but my Jeep Wrangler and three hour drive through traffic on my way to the Hollywood Hills – I am excited to go home. The last few weeks have been hell. I spent time in Tibet, scaling the snow-covered mountains with Lama Tenzin on his trek to help orphaned children receive a better life. These kids live at sixteen-thousand feet and survive on a diet of yak cheese and “mineral dirt.” Dirt! There I said it again. Blended with melted snow and held over a fire spit, the sand drops to the bottom and the minerals float up into the hot water, to be drunk as tea. Sounds like a healthy concoction, one which the West will likely pay $6 a shot for, in Starbucks, ten years from now. Still, the mortality rate for high-altitude orphans is pretty high and no amount of mineral dirt is going to stave off death by exposure.
Just thinking about Puc-Chou lying in that cave, his lips blue and that tiny left hand twisted into a claw as he attempted to reach for another log to throw on the fire, makes me want to vomit. I do, and the woman turns her head at me in disgust, then turns away to devour another chapter on parenting. The irony amuses me. I’m leaving abandoned orphans, who die weekly for lack of attention from the world, and this idiot beside me turns up her nose at my sickness, while reading an idiotic “How To” book on taking care of someone else’s kids. I think He is laughing at me as the pilot’s wing caresses God’s underbelly.
A few people brought shoes to Tibet, something the kids could use on their treks across the harsh Himalayan slopes. I made some stupid joke about leaving them with their tongues sticking out and then pulled out my gift to the kids – a MONOPOLY set. There was just something beautiful in imagining four future Lamas sitting around arguing over who might end up with the thimble. Time for another drink. I call the stewardess over and she knocks three people in the heads as she pushes her fat self down the aisle. I order another bourbon, something to unfreeze my blood and warm my cold heart. As I drift off, the images of dying children flicker like shadows dancing on my eyelids. I see death all around me.