super sad dream (part 2)
Hamilton, Ontario, December, 2008
It was a dark night, the time of the evening where all of your acquaintances have gone home, to their real homes. The time of night where the bars are closed, solidly closed and empty (even of the people that worked there), and the people who were in the bars are gone, gone from the establishments and gone from the streets. It’s not quite mo(u)rning yet, and it is in the very, very deep dark depths of night. Where the streets are actually really completely empty, and there are about two cabs in all of downtown, but that’s okay because there are no people.
We had been holding a party. We were in a familiar building (although not our own), and we were looking at a familiar city scape (although not our own). About the fourth or fifth story up, wide, high windows, a corner unit – a top one, not that we had any other indications of why it would be on the top. Remains of the evening around us. Maybe four or five of us left, two men, an older women or sick friend, someone who couldn’t walk far, maybe who was already asleep. Half-finished and mainly finished small plates of food and drinks strewn here and there. Candles burning down, partially from laziness and for our tired eyes, maybe also to avoid any black-out warnings (not that they would matter in this day and age). Blankets tossed here and there. The type of party that had happened slowly, but intensely, with conversations that were full of emotion. The kind of party that hangs in the air, even long after people have left. Thoughts and ideas suspended like balloons, taking their own time to leave and dissipate. A dark night, even for a city.
These windows faced north-east (ours face East). The city looked like Ottawa or Boston, more high-rises than here, but historical buildings still high and prolific enough to dialogue with the skyline. Like Paris, without any obvious landmarks. We were less than a kilometer from the downtown core, close enough to see that it was close from a distance. The Hamilton skyline from that park we would always go to behind St. Joe’s. The one that looked out at the Bay from the escarpment. A purply night with a large, dark, tense presence that would have sat across our chests, immobilizing us, if it hadn’t been so dog-eared and familiar. If we hadn’t been waiting and functioning like this for so long.
They had put out a call for volunteers, healthy ones, strong ones. We knew something was anticipated. We weren’t sure if it was good or bad. Someone was listening to a radio-broadcast, or watching a news stream, or a media feed. The apartment had that cozy after-party/snowstorm/get out and meet your neighbours kind of feel to it. People were moving from flat to flat. I think The Hermit, the painter who lives in our building, with the huge, thick, black-framed glasses and plaid pants was over when he heard the news. He has a beard, and was too old. He had lived a good life, he declared. If they destroyed his art they would destroy him. He went home to be with it. I was drying a dish in one hand, and the three of us were discussing who should go. I was strong enough, although it hadn’t been long since I recovered. I could go but couldn’t run fast, my card still had permissions for me to stay, it wasn’t illegal for me not to go.
The men had to. We determined that it was either going to be really good, or really bad. They were either recruiting people to move forward, to start our new settlement and lives, or they were recruiting people to fight. Or worse, recruiting people for testing.
Finally we decided intuitively it was safest for us to split up and I would stay. Safest as determined by who?? Genetic pre-disposition perhaps? The passing on of our DNA? Not that we were all related. My brother, my partner and I. But the potential. The strength of the primal instincts to do this were alarming: distribute gene pool. We all intuitively, indisputably arrived at this conclusion individually. They would go, and if it was good, if they were relocating us they would somehow contact me and I would join them. And if it was bad, they would try to come back. They would go early and investigate, and come back. I needed to stay at the apartment anyway. Cleaning, preparing, waiting, hiding, listening.
And so they left.
Time passed. The sky began to lighten, gradually. You could feel the energy shifting in the city, people were getting up. Healthy ones were moving downtown, the mobile, the active, the informed. A shifting of strong energy, a shifting of youth.
More time passed. The sky was lavender. I began to wonder if I should begin packing my bags and heading downtown. If they would leave without me. If finally, after so many years things were going to be getting easier. Then suddenly, everything changed. An explosion above downtown, fire racing through the empty streets and a dark mushroom cloud racing upwards. They were all gone.