Rain Dance Circles
This is how it rains now.
Hard, angry. With urgency. With a desperate need to inform us that this isn't right, this the needle in the red. But the message is also the medium of our fate. The siren is also the crash.
I think I'm waxing nostalgic again. It's easy with the humidity, it's easy with the vodka tonic jangling in the left hand, it's easy under a proud and firm tent on the university grounds, it's easy when the days are shrinking and it gets dark but stays hot unnaturally early, whatever you can hope natural and unnatural means these days.
I am not speaking. And I am not being spoken to. Which is fortunate because when that question is asked, the only answer I can honestly give is not the answer anyone who asks 'ready?' wants to hear.
I am not ready. The rain pours and the clock ticks and I'm supposed to find that umbrella nearby or cover my head awkwardly with a bag or magazine, and go, go, go. Across the street, down two blocks, through a tiny parkette, and into the 20s era office building with the legendary lobby echo.
I will catch a slow elevator to the third floor, spend ten minutes in a waiting room, 'accidentally' run into an old colleague who will shake my hand effusively and nod excited and ultra-casually place a small fingernail drive into my coat pocket.
And then I will sit down again and wait another ten minutes and then tell the receptionist that something came up and that I must cancel.
But I am not ready.
I am clutching my heart proverbially. I am trying to remembered when it rained liked this.
Catching old deals made new in Taipei when the trade barrier fell.
Reading tattered pages in third class rail cars between Kolkata and Bangalore. I'm the one in the slightly higher quality breathing mask with industrial-strength Ray-bans, shooing the child beggars and dust with the same veteran forearm.
Old path worn down. Just making double sure this time, even as you know the answers, they're all somewhere swimming behind the eyes in deep wells you keep hidden from friends and loved ones especially.
And in crowds in all the cities that I call home for half a breath, as the rain falls, the people blur from every corner of the globe, and the language becomes one, as if the water pushes, drowns out the difference and all you have is a perfect polyglot of humanity. Not pristine, but accurate.
"Don't come to me with that sort of problem again-"
"The new normal-"
"He says that's all going to change in the next month-"
"If you don't calm down right now you're not going to get-"
"Like a normal one, but then you tap twice and becomes a-"
"Can you spare any change or credits-"
"All this horseshit piled on top of even more fucking horseshit."
"Don't even get me started-"
"Where are you s'posed to be right now?"
Passing through it all to meet my contact. Practically just a harmless game now. No one is out to get either of us. We've outlasted them all but not ourselves, so what else are we to do? I'll pretend like I don't know the gist of the message I'm about to receive in a code that's not anymore. Everyone knows it. Everyone has it on the tips of their tongues, it's the secret password to get into a nine year old's secret hideout.
Across a square in Copenhagen clutching an umbrella that might be stolen from a retired geological surveyor with epic puddles you can't help but slog through, the homeless man with the gleam in his eyes mumbles a number and the nun asking for charity whispers a street name between bell rings.
So I go there and in the doorway is my good friend looking a thousand yards away with a grimace that seems to will the foul weather to do its worst.
Still I try.
"Is this the sort of place where I can rest my feet near a fire?"
"Matilda, I can't do this anymore."
I think that's one of my names.
I think he is trying to tell me something.
I think his hands are on my shoulders, not out of malice, but out of some rudimentary attempt to not fall over and slip through the wet cobblestones. But I do, I lose my balance with this added weight, and the doorway starts to spin the wrong way round and back again and it's raining right into my open eyes, raining just for me and when I shut them I'm flying in first class somehow no memory of even driving up the airport and checking in, maybe drugged and placed there by well paid off airline stooges.
All I have is that old Northeastern Seaboard rain, stuck as the constant, crude unrelenting backdrop that all other memories are trying to stand out from and become separate, distinct. Names, faces, and events, all through sheets of twinkling grey and the sound of constant, antithetical sizzle.
And I'm still soaking wet in my seat that's practically a recliner, and the flight attendants cheerily pretend that nothing is amiss, all systems go.
I turn down the offer of wine and demand three glasses of orange juice. As I drink them down one after the other, my eyes flicker to the nametag and get the word 'Veronica', and no memories at all, just the image of the beaming woman in front of me getting drenched in a surprise downpour.
"Can I get you anything else?"
I was supposed to think here. I was supposed to really dwell on responding to such a carefree, throwaway question. It wasn't designed to be a trap, but you can turn anything into a trap all by yourself if you're on just the right spot on the wrong ledge.
"This isn't happening, Veronica. This whole plane stopped flying, this whole planet stopped spinning a long time ago. I was there when he shut it all down, when we pulled the plug that I didn't think could possibly be real but there it was sticking dumbly out of the ground like a wall socket for the earth. And my good friend made some pithy remark about the time and I rolled my eyes but in the end it was like we were the first like the first people to realize what was happening like a switch went out inside us first right there. And since then although I really couldn't tell you, Veronica, how long it's been I've been running and running across the planet every which way hoping to find something different, some sort of result that would prove it was all big ruse, or too big of a thing to actually happen. But it's all true. It's on repeat. This isn't happening for the second or third time. It's always been the second or third time. The loop is winding down and it's getting sloppy, Veronica. And because I was so close to it I'm feeling now what you'll all be feeling pretty soon."
She nodded and shuffled away and never came close to me for the rest of the flight, which landed in Buenos Aries several hours ahead of schedule. Outside it was raining like it was Vancouver. Like everywhere else.
|If you're worried about the future, read up on the past|