Day 16 : Velaslavasay Panorama

Still somewhat exhausted from my morning’s early activities, and anticipating another day of waking up at the crack of dawn, I had decided to slip into unconsciousness a tad early on Saturday night. Some other party-goers on my block, however; had a different idea.

10pm. 11pm. Loud, raucous music trumpeted out from several doors down. It must be a party of some sort. It hurts the inside of my head.

Midnight. 1am. 2am? The low, steady blaring of a not-perfectly-in-tune tuba punctuates a never-ending stream of Ranchera music. It could possibly be a special holiday I don’t know about, but then again, probably not.

2:30. The stray cats of the neighborhood howled aloud together in protest. Or perhaps it was in approval of such audible, willing abandon. My own cat decided to join in on the fun by screaming out the living room window. On the verge of pure exhaustion-fueled tears, I decided to let him.

3am. Sudden silence. Finally.

My cat rejoined me in bed, quiet, but restless. He circled the pillow several times, licked my eyelid in an attempt to rouse me from my slumberless slumber, and then rubbed his whiskers against my face while he proceeded to groom himself. Damn you cat, go to sleep.

4am. The valerian root I had taken earlier in the evening  (or rather, yesterday) seems to have worn off and I’m now awake against-my-will, staring into the semi-dark. My cat is snoring. I’m past the point of comprehending how any of this is possible.

Soon after. I give up on the idea of returning to sleep ever again, and I get up to feed the cat. I play with him and putter around the depths of the internet until I start to feel dizzy and on the brink of passing out.

6am. Time to slip into nothing for a couple of hours. Whatever crack-of-dawn sporting activity I had planned, is definitely not happening anywhere else but in my imagination. I’m not just tired from lack of sleep, I’m tired from everything. My cat is tiring. My thoughts are tiring. The people I meet are tiring. The entire damn world and their entire damn tiresome predictability is tiring. Let me at least dream about something different for an hour or two.


It was unsurprising that I didn’t manage to sleep anywhere as long as I needed, but my body clock rarely cooperates with my need-for-sleep clock. I really wish I could get those two lovebirds together sometime, but sadly, I think one of them may be in utter denial about their feelings. Such a shame, what, with them having so much in common.

My ongoing list of things-to-do was decidedly helpful on a day like today.  Scanning, forever scanning for something different, I firmly believed a quick visit to the Velaslavasay Panorama would be something I was capable of handling.

I had no real idea what to expect of the experience, though. My dear old friend, Yelp, had mixed enough reviews that I was prepared for it to be a major disappointment. The official website didn’t offer me a particularly good description either. So, time to do a little gentle exploring, apparently.

It turned out that the theater is located in a not-particularly-great neighborhood, but I luckily didn’t have to walk too far from my car to the front door. And frankly, the neighborhood I live in isn’t exactly Mayberry either, so you could say I’ve gotten used to experiencing borderline, or as my landlord insists, “transitional” neighborhoods.

I am told after paying my reasonably-priced donation that the Panorama is just down a small hallway, and up a tiny spiral staircase. It’s dark, and the wooden planks creaked as I slowly climbed higher into what I assumed would be a small theater of sorts. At the top, however; I was confronted by a very dark, circular pathway inside a small circular room. It looked like there was a ledge only a couple feet away, with a railing only a foot or two tall; and I couldn’t see what was there, how far down, or where it all went. I stood a moment, still hanging on to the handrail at the top of the staircase; when I finally realized that it’s actually not far down at all. In-between the edge of the floor and the back of the glacially-themed art surrounding me, were three-dimensional sculptures of icebergs.

velaslavasay panoramaMy first reaction was that it was basically a large mural of the Arctic Ocean; which, on the surface, didn’t seem enormously impressive. A faint sound of wind was being played over speakers in the background, to help with the simulation. The painting itself was unevenly lit for effect, with parts of it brighter, and others much darker.

After slowly walking around the room, looking at the various pieces, I sat down on a section of a round bench that hugged the top of the spiral staircase. I was the only person in the room at the moment, and was able to take in everything on my own time – in utter, blissful quiet.

The audio began to slowly evolve. More complex water and dripping and moaning iceberg sounds played through several unseen speakers, creating a three-dimensionality for the ears. The lower grumbling pitches could actually be physically felt, and I was convinced the room itself was getting colder, even though I knew it must be all in my head.

velaslavasay panorama 2I then began to think my eyes were playing tricks on me, too. Were the lights actually moving? Wasn’t it brighter over there before? I sat for a few more minutes until I realized that it wasn’t in my mind. In addition to the sound, the subtle spotlighting of different parts of the painting were slowly evolving as well.

I continued to sit a while longer, by myself; in that simulated, barren environment. It was eerie, distant, and full of potential for alien life. I almost immediately found it restful.

Feeling more centered, and more collected; I decided it was time to climb back down the dark winding passage and into the daylight. There was a backyard with a tiny garden intended for strolling, meditating, or contemplation. Still the only occupant, I took out my camera and took a few pictures without worrying about bothering anyone else. It was a nice place to re-acclimate after experiencing the panorama, but it was time to return home to the noise and life of the living.

Panorama Garden Arch

And indeed, as predicted; on the streets of my neighborhood, there was living to be had. Loud and clear.

I have high hopes, though; that tonight will be filled with a sound, uneventful slumber. Don’t let me down, my future lovebirds. Bedtime is softly calling.






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