Tuesday, December 25, 2012

And in the wake of the day you will find your world, a slow flowing world

        Ben and Kelly had lived very near each other for about a year. Ben was in is his last year of college but since he had stayed on an extra year the majority of his friends had moved away to the city.  Because of this Kelly-who Ben had been dating for about six months-had become his closest and for the most part only friend. He was okay with this arrangement. They had one of the same classes in common, a chemistry class in the morning, and would sit in the front row. They would hold hands in this class. There were people in the rows behind Ben and Kelly who hated them.

        They would lie in bed on the weekends, sleep in real late, then sometimes walk around town just looking at people and laughing. They hardly ever fought and could cook food together no problem. One time they were at a party at Kelly's friend's Amanda's house. There was no theme to the party except maybe "drunk" or "get drunk". Ben's thoughts repeatedly returned to the statement "There is no theme to this party except 'drunk'" Ben left the party and bought a bottle of red wine which he shared with Kelly. Kelly's friends were exceptional in their unintelligence so Ben hardly ever talked to them. Kelly enjoyed their company however and so the two spent time with these people quite often. Because of this they thought of him as cold and aloof, distant even.
       The morning after the party Ben woke up with a headache, a bad taste in his mouth and a spider's anxiety webbed around his gut.
       -I'm hungover.
     Rolling over Kelly kisses him on the shoulder. Kelly has good genes. Kelly never gets hungover. The whole day was cast in an awkward and surreal light for him. Everything through a filter Ben thought, a taupe or maybe puce filter. That night, after the sun set, they went out to eat. They went to a Thai restaurant with lots of ornate wooden sculptures inside. Most of the sculptures were of Thai villagers just doing their jobs. There was one painting of two Thai women pouring some gatorade on a giant quaalude. While they were waiting for the food to come out Ben imagined that this painting was 19th century propaganda to get lazy Thai villagers excited about pouring gatorade on giant quaaludes. That this was very effective propaganda. That after this painting (and others in its series) were released the production of gatorade covered quaaludes increased dramatically. That supplies of gatorade covered quaaludes were so great that market prices tanked, the industry collapsed and tens of thousands of Thai villagers starved in the ensuing depression. In the corner of the painting was a little red squiggle. Looking closer Ben saw it was the painter's signature. It read Tim Wright '89. This made Ben extremely angry for a very brief period of time.
     Ben ordered a wide noodle dish and Kelly ordered a cocoanut milk soup with mushrooms. Kelly did not like to eat mushrooms, did not like the texture of mushrooms and put all her mushrooms on Ben's plate. Ben relished eating mushrooms in all their inchoate fleshiness.
    The year passed quickly and passed with little to punctuate it, or so it seemed at the time. The winter was frigid, frozen, unforgiving. Ben and Kelly had fought this off by staying in bed as much as possible. In the spring their town thawed out, a mighty bloom of green spread like a drunken octopus along the parks and alleyways between houses. On a quiet weekend Ben and Kelly drove down to Portland to stay with Kelly's parents. Kelly's parents live in a small house in the forest. Ben had met Kelly's parents before. One parent: a very tall white woman, the other parent a short Japanese woman. Both were crazy in the best possible way. They remind Ben of a comedic duo, perhaps from a mid-60's french television show.
     When Ben and Kelly arrived the tall white mom ran over to them with her arms wide and shouted
       -Babies! She hugged Ben and Kelly at the same time, one in each arm. As they were being hugged Kelly said
          She said this not as loud, but with genuine feeling. Tall white mom held them for a long time sort of rocking from side to side. From a few feet away the small Japanese mom put up her hand and said, in a monotone voice,
        The four of them spent the weekend together, eating mostly. Kelly's moms rarely got visitors so when Ben and Kelly came down they cooked for days before hand, filling the refrigerator with cellophaned supplies which they pulled out one by one and heated up for each meal, the day progressing seamlessly without interruption of unnecessary cooking. One day Ben helped the short Japanese mom cut back invasive bushes from a small creek on their property. Ben and short Japanese mom used chainsaws to do it and the metal, the living metal in Ben's hands felt good. The gasoline fumes and the scrape of the thorns on his skin, like repelling a blow, felt good. They did a lot of work that day, every half hour or so the mom would bring him a large can of iced tea. Ben drank six cans of iced tea that day.
  When Ben and Kelly left the next day both of Kelly's moms stood apart from them facing each other. Tall white mom said
      -I love you! to Kelly then Kelly said
      -I love you, to both of her moms. Then the short Japanese mom said:
      -Kelly we love you. And then the tall white mom grabbed Ben and Kelly and hugged them and said
      -Babies! and Ben stands there, squished a little, confused a little and says
      -Hey, thanks for everything. Hope I can come back again soon. He waits a second, and still being hugged says -I really had a nice time. And the mom stand there holding them, rocking side to side saying
      -babies, babies, babies, babieeeeeeees...softly under her breath
      In the summer Ben gets a job in the city. He loves Kelly so they decide to stay together even though they live in different places, different cities. Ben travels to her town and Kelly travels to the city on weekends. This set up works okay. They have phone conversations most days and feel good about things, about each other.

...And now I'm sitting on the roof with Kelly sitting on the roof at night and it is really thin on top so we have to balance very carefully, dig into the shingles with our feet and but it's okay, not too cold tonight and we're just watching the city and it seems like we haven't spoken in some time, hours maybe but it is nice up here and we are just watching as this dolphin sort of meanders over us, and then an octopus, they're just chilling up there passing by overhead, it's really beautiful, and I look at Kelly and I smile and I think about how I really love her and we sit here for some time, sit into the future just watching these animals pass by...
     ...it's just a thing, these animals
   The next day Ben calls Kelly and they are talking about their days and they fall quiet for a minute and Ben says
     -Oh haha, you were in one of my dreams last night. I think that was the first time I've had a dream about you. And Kelly says
     -Oh really? What were we doing? And Ben says
    -I don't remember a lot of stuff, it was like we were on this adventure but the last thing that happened before I woke up was we were on this roof watching these animals fly by us and it was really beautiful
    -Oh cool,  Kelly says and laughs a little. -cool dream.
     Ben works hard at his job and when school starts for Kelly she is too busy to come to the city to visit him. They see each other less than before but still talk often. A few weeks after Ben had had his dream Kelly calls him up early in the morning, sounding a little flustered
    -Hey what's up? Ben is lying on his bed, a low bed on the floor and has a little object, a little thing in his hand which he is staring at. He shifts his weight.
    -I just had this dream that we got in a huge fight and you broke up with me. You were really mad at me and it really sucked.
    -Oh that sounds pretty bad. Ben feels a little confused,
    -Well but, you aren't actually mad at me are you? Ben feels a little confused.
    -No. No that was a dream. What was I so mad at you about?
    -I don't remember. She is silent for a moment. -Okay. Good that's all I needed to hear. I woke up really worried, I'm still kind of sad, but I guess it was just a dream.
    -I'm really sorry. Ben says. -I'm not mad at you though. This made Kelly feel better and, while it felt strange to Ben to apologize for something that he hadn't done it did feel good to make her feel better.
     This exchange, telling each other the dreams they had had the night before-and these dreams, perhaps as a mechanism to counteract the reduction in time they spent together now, increased in frequency until it was happening every time they spoke-and became a mainstay of their relationship, an almost unconscious center-post to their feelings for each other.

     Ben and Charlie had been sitting at the bar for a while, not speaking. They both disliked t.v. and disliked sports but the basketball highlights filled the gaps in their conversation conveniently. The bartender, a woman in her early 30's had been ignoring them since they had ordered their first drinks, ignoring them out of principal it seemed rather than anything else.
    -So what's up with Kelly? What's she been up to? Carl asked, mercifully breaking the silence.
    -Oh not much, we hung out last night. Ben said automatically
    -Oh! Is she in town right now?
   -Huh? Oh. Ben seems to be thinking hard -No.
   -What...she just came down for the night or...?
   -No...well. Ben felt confused for a moment -Well I mean...I had a dream about her last night but I guess we actually... Ben thought, broke out in a small sweat -Guess we haven't talked in some time.
   -Wait. What? Carl leaned over toward him, -Are you guys still dating or what? You had a DREAM about her? What does that even mean?
   -I guess. I guess I don't know.
   So as, when faced with a new and slightly hostile environment: the thin air of increased altitude or a particularly dry climate, the body will at first struggle, then over the course of days adapt to fill its needs, the mind-and the soul too-will find new and ingenious ways to adjust to a strange situation and fulfill its needs. So it happened, gradually of course, very very gradually, that the interactions in their dreams began to overtake reality. They never noticed the change, it occurred over three months, maybe more. They began to see each other every night it felt, their desires for closeness, nearness, communication assuaged by sleep. And in some ways the simulation of the other was superior to the real thing.

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