Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Black Whale

Night. Our ship was idling right over the spot where Titanic had sunk. We were sending machines down to search the wreckage. We had the old lady on board who thought she was in the drawing we found. The whole deal, OK?

I leaned on the rail looking out at the sea. It was quiet, just the lapping of the waves. A dark shadow passed silently in the waters. It was the Black Whale! The one I'd been searching for! It was far larger than I'd even imagined. A wave of fear swept through my body.

I woke up.

In my fever, I'd fallen asleep on the couch while Helen and Megan were watching an episode of The Deadliest Catch. That might explain the ship, but where did that whale come from?

I think the old lady should have taken the explorer aside on deck one day. She could have quietly told him she needed to share a secret. Then she'd pull the Heart of the Sea from her pocket and let him look at it. She'd keep it in her hand, but let him look into it, and see the depths of the sea in the blue stone. He'd be mesmerized at its beauty. And then before he could realize what she was doing, she'd toss it into the water. He'd be speechless. The prize he had sought, so close, and then gone! But she'd tell him, "No one possesses the Heart of the Sea. You have seen it. That is enough."

Wouldn't that have been good? It seemed pretty good when I was sick, so I'm hitting you with it.

I don't get where this Titanic stuff came from. I saw the movie way back when it came out and that's about it. Maybe any show about ships brings it to mind. Maybe it's that thing about returning things to their rightful place that I was rambling about the other week. That's a good story element.

Since Plaid Dress I've been trying to remember dreams. Getting sick helped. I kept waking up to cough or something.

An old man and a young man told me they wanted to clear the snow off my driveway. I thought I should do it myself. But they said if they did it, they'd be showing somebody something, so they really wanted to do it, if it was all right with me. So I let them do it. I watched one go down the driveway and pick up my snow shovel, and while my head was turned the other one somehow cleared most of the snow. The driveway felt a little warm. It was if there was a heating system under the blacktop that I never knew about. The one with the shovel was just clearing off lumps of snow that did not melt.

That was part of something longer. It involved me walking down the street and finding something. It was like my street but different. Not the same houses that are really there, and different trees. The side streets led to different neighborhoods. I can't really explain it. It felt strange. There were some kind of colored lights. I don't remember what the thing was that I found, if I ever knew.

If you don't like that try this next one.

They've just told me the apartment is available now. As if the housing office have been working on an application for at least fourteen years, before we left the city. There's a long waiting list, but come on. I go anyway. I have to see what they've got for me. At the front door of the building I realized I can't get in without a key. But wait, I have a key. I used to live in this building.

I woke up during this one.

I've had many versions of the apartment dream. In some of them I discover that I had not actually given up an old apartment, even though I stopped paying rent, and I still have the keys. This is convenient because all my old apartments are near where I work, and it would be nice to go hide in them at lunch like I used to do sometimes. And I could have Helen come in to town after work, and we'd stay there sometimes.

One time while I was writing College Stories a year ago, I even discovered that I had not given up my dorm room in John Jay. It's like an apartment but much smaller. I think it was about 8 by 15.

I don't think the dreams ever cover how I learn about the old place. I just suddenly know about it.

Way back in elementary school, the nuns would tell us about heaven. If we were good we'd go there and be blissfully happy forever. But only our souls, not our material bodies.

I imagine this has always raised questions. Adults will immediately wonder how we can get blissful without having bodies if you know what I mean. Children want to know, if I don't have my pet there, or if I can't eat ice cream, how could I be happy?

One nun gave a great answer to this. It's a simple thing maybe, but it has affected my way of thinking to this day. You can have all the happiness of those things without having the things. What?

Get it?

But it's not just happiness. Any feeling. I said I dreamt that I went down the street and found something good, but I don't remember what. Maybe all there ever was in the dream was the feeling that I found something good. It didn't need to be specific. Have the feeling without the thing. I bet dreams are full of this. Any detail becomes specific only if it matters to the storyline the brain is building. The rest seems so fluid because it hasn't been specified yet. The rest is just feelings about things.

When I started this blog over a year ago, I thought that maybe if I just wrote, no matter how scattershot the subject matter would get, eventually it would all start to come together. Look what happens. I came up with that Heart of the Sea conclusion a couple of days ago while half awake, without trying to be deep or anything. And there it is. You don't need to have the thing. I think I've been telling you that one for a while.

I own a lot of things. I'm not sure why. Too many things. But some important things in my life, I don't own and cannot own.

Maybe that's the Black Whale. Or maybe not. Maybe it's still coming for me.

Next time: Making a Subway Map.

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