It's far too early in the morning. I'm leaning over a desk in a small, harshly lit cubicle, trying not to think about the tourniquet that's tightening on my arm.
Dots sparkle in front of my eyes, and I pull back.
"Ummm, on second thought, do you think I could lay down? I think I'm going to pass out."
The nurse nods and ushers me over to one of those pseudo-comfy recliners they keep for those of us with a tendency to pass out at the stick of a needle.
Again the tourniquet tightens, and I involuntarily let out a deep breath.
"It's alright, honey," the nurse says. "Just go to your happy place. We'll be done here before you know it."
I close my eyes and will myself to an ocean beach, the white sand warm on my burrowing toes, the breaking of the waves loud in my ears. I reach for the pina colada at my side...
and Tori's smiling face breaks into my thoughts.
I'm laying on the grass, the sun hot on my face as I squint up at her gap-tooth smile. She looms over me, trying to feed me a stick she found in the garden. Sitting up, I grab her and roll her on to her back, loudly zerberting her tummy. She squeals and grabs for my nose...
And I will myself back to that tropical beach. I'm swimming in the turquoise water, watching little blue fish dart around my toes. Securing the snorkel mask around my nose, I dive down and reach out to touch the neon yellow fish that's staring at me. My delighted giggle bubbles up around me...
when Brian's voice breaks into my reverie.
Suddenly it's dusk, and we're sitting out on the patio, my feet in his lap. We're sharing a raspberry vodka-laced lemonade while a symphony of crickets and frogs serenades us. Together we build dreams of cedar decks, cascading waterfalls and light-filled sun rooms...
And the snap of the tourniquet releasing brings me back to earth.
"There, all done, " The nurse chirps. "You sure got quiet on me—your happy place must be pretty fantastic!"
It is. And surprisingly close at hand.
Where's your happy place?