My junior year at college, I lived in the only dorm on campus that had an elevator.
One weekend morning, I woke up around 6, mildly hung over and with a terrible headache, and realized that I’d forgotten my laundry in the dryer in the basement the night before. A calmer, less anxious person might have just rolled over and gone back to sleep, but that laundry load contained virtually all the clothes I owned. I kept thinking about how stupid I’d feel if someone stole them, or took them out and they got lost, or thrown away, or any number of totally implausible things happened.
So, I got up, walked down the hall and hit the down button for the elevator. Nobody was riding it at this absurd hour, so it came quickly, and I was thankful that I didn’t have to interact with any other humans in my ailing state.
I rode the elevator down to the basement, and everything just felt totally off and wrong and disorienting. I chalked it up to the hangover, but it felt…extra.
My laundry unsurprisingly had not been stolen or set on fire, so I stuffed it in a bag and went back to the elevator, feeling a little more awake and clear-headed. The elevator showed up, I got in and hit the button for my floor, and again I had this really strange sense of disorientation.
It was then that I realized I was standing on grass.
There was a wall-to-wall bright green lawn, right there under my feet. I started to piece things together; there was a house a couple of blocks from campus where they’d just laid down rolls of sod for a new yard. Somebody had swiped a bunch of it around 3am, brought it into the elevator and installed it to near-professional tolerances, so it fit perfectly in the space.
It feels profoundly strange to stand on grass in the elevator. You don’t expect the surface under your feet to be squishy and uneven, and you don’t expect to see any plants. It’s totally mundane, and yet totally wrong. The outdoors is indoors, and it makes you question everything for a second.
The doors opened, and some early-bird freshman was standing there, staring, confused. I put on an affect of nonchalance and got out, laundry bag over my shoulder. “Somebody really ought to mow that.”