As I look back, it is clearly the most singular moment in my life. An instant that a very few experience that forever alters their perceptions of reality. It was single event that changed my views on what could be possible, and, perhaps, the existence of something beyond our ability to explain.
I remember the moment well, yet everything else is a blur, like the background of a surreal painting obscured by the brilliance of the focus. I cannot say for sure when the event took place, only that it was during my freshman year at college, in the late fall, I think.
I was walking through an area known as the Sunken Garden, a grassy field below the level of the surrounding ground. I guess I must have been the only down there at the time (which was strange enough in itself). As I walked the ground began to shake, and the wind picked up violently, neither of which was common for that area. I had little time to worry about what was happening, as the ground soon gave way beneath me. I was falling, but not straight. The air was swirling me around as if in a whirlpool, a whirlpool of purple and green mist at that. Being throw around so fast must have caused me to lose consciousness, for I do not remember anything else.
When I came to, I was lying on a stone floor, under an overhanging roof. The sun was shining and there was no sign of either the vortex, or the Sunken Garden. I looked up at a beautiful sky, and felt the warm weather. The buildings around me were odd, though I quickly recognized the architecture as Greek (though Roman also occurred to me, as I wasn’t an expert on architecture). There was a searing pain on the back of my head, and as I reached up to touch it my hand came away red with my own blood. There was a bloodstain on the floor where I had been laying, and I realized that my trip had not been a pleasant one.
A few people starred at me, and one came over to speak. His words were Greek; more surprisingly, ancient Greek; more surprisingly I understood them. He asked me if I was alright.
"Yes," I said, amazed that I even knew the word for it. I began to wonder just where my little fall had taken me to, and how I got here. The man told me I was in Athens, and it was not hard to deduce from there that I was in ancient Athens. I shook my head. I should have taken the old librarians advice. He told me not to read "Wasps" out-loud, backwards in the original Greek, "not a good idea for one who doesn’t know what he’s doing," he’d said. I guess I couldn’t help myself. It’s one of those things you just have to do, and come to think of it, that was what I had been doing when the vortex opened.
After a minute, I realized what I had to do, it would be easy. I reached for my copy of "Wasps," only to find it gone. Everything was gone, my bag, the play, even my clothes. Somehow I had ended up dressed as the locals. At least they were nice clothes, very bright. I marveled again at how dry the air was.
"Alright," I said to myself, "I need to find someone who has a copy of Wasps, and read it forwards, in Latin." Guess I must have said that out loud, too.
"No problem," the man who had helped me said, still concerned. I finally took the time to take a good look at the man. Looked helpful, but not a pretty person, him. "I know the author, and I’m sure he’d be happy for any praise. In fact, I am going to a party now, and I’m sure he’ll be there."
We walked down the streets, passing many vendors. Plainly garbed women were selling chickens and other things, and I was entranced by the beauty and unrealness of my situation. I finally thought to ask the man his name. "Socrates," he told me. Was he joking? I stared at him for moment. Probably not. I shook my head and chuckled, not sure what else to do.
He certainly took his time getting to the party, stopping to think many times, so that it was dark when finally we reached that manor of one of his friends (I forget the name, now, had too many letters in it, if you ask me).
Socrates introduced me as a friend of his, for which I am eternally grateful, and the host insisted I join them for dinner. We sat through many wonderful courses, with much revelry. After dinner, it was insisted that everyone enjoy a very generous portion of wine (amazing how much these people drink), and we listened to a striking young lady play the flute as our "amusement."
Finally, swooning somewhat from the wine, I addressed Aristophanes, who proved to be very witty in person, as well. I told him that I should be ever so grateful if I might acquire a copy of his play, "Wasps." I finally convinced him that it would be no harm to loan me a copy. I expressed my gratitude and rose to leave, staggering, but our host insisted I stay, as it was late. I acquiesced to this wisdom.
In the morning I tried to return to the point from which I had come, but found myself wandering the city and admiring the buildings (and visiting the major landmarks, like the Acropolis) before I found my way back. I set about reading the play, and shortly a new vortex opened. The next thing I remember was waking up in the Student Health Center. I later tried to speak ancient Greek, but found I could not. I tried to reopen to vortex, but I have had little success…I can offer only the wisdom, that you should pay attention when old librarians warn you about books…