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DREAM: Taking photos of a desert sandstorm in tropical Iceland.
I am on a vacation with my family and we are in a remote hotel room hundreds of miles from the closest airport. We lose the dog once (a German shepherd). We chase him because we do not want him to get lost in the thick, dense foliage. There is a small backyard area with 1x table and 2x wood chair, although no one sits here. We watch from a the glass door, against the back porch as a large wave of water hurtles towards us. The wave turns into a wave of sand and a gust of wind that blows the glass door open and leaves sand on grandpa’s white polo [shoulder]. On the porch I take photos on my iphone of the waterfalls and lush greenery (imagine Hawaii on a cloudy day). I feel terrified of impending waves and look around often, nervously (this is when I accidently let the dog out). We sit on the couch and I beg you to go to the hot springs with me. “Those are so lame,” you say. “All of the tourists go there.” “But we are tourists too,” I say, “and I have always wanted to go.”
On the bus, I desperately fought the urge to sleep. The looming obligation to finish a book long overdue from the public library enveloped me like a dark cocoon. I could recall earlier that day my mother telling me about a comet that would impact the earth’s surface in the year 2080. There was a rotund man, middle-aged, Asian, sharing the bus bench with me. He slept loudly, his feet planted in the middle of the bus aisle like a two-car pile-up in a row of town houses. He had two plastic bags filled with groceries from the market in Philadelphia. I had always felt nervous about using the mobile, bus bathroom and felt then an almost gratefulness towards him, my sleeping knight. From behind, I overheard two men. “Do you ever wear sunglasses, Barry?” “No, never. The marine corps taught me how to squint. I do use the sun visor in my car though.” My mother and step-father are employees at a casino in north Philadelphia. My father is a professional welder. When I shower, I keep my cell phone in a plastic, quart-sized baggie and look at my home screen though the plastic, its usual dampness, its outer rim of condensation. This gives me the perception of un-clarity, like driving in the winter without heat, or opening your eyes in the public pool, and I had always wanted glasses. Every day I turn on the shower, stand torpid and naked in the bathroom, my size-six feet plastered against the cold tile, skin and breasts responding, with small bumps and ridges, to the mixture of cold and warm air. I have two portraits in my room, one of of Anna Karina and the other of Elvis Presley, and a movie poster for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. When I watch movies in imperceptible languages, I try rarely to look at the subtitles because I remember this is how my mother learned to speak English, from watching Dallas in the 1970’s. The man sitting across from me was whispering on his phone to someone about South Africa. The only thoughts or memories, it seemed, that I had ever had of South Africa was that I found their accents attractive, but hard to understand, and that movie about aliens, or was it cyborgs. I had fallen asleep, but the unmistakable, repetitiveness of “Who Let The Dogs Out, woof woof” rang again twice in his pocket. Soon after emerging from the Holland Tunnel, the bus passed an apartment building where a mother and a baby stood in the second story window, fervently pointing at busses and cars in amusement, creating greasy smudges on the translucent glass like an almost-invisible oil painting. I thought, ‘Wow, babies in Manhattan really are like pets—their involuntary choice in dress, their piss stains on the carpet, their parents or nannies only taking them for walks on days that it is nice out and other people can see cute thing they had made, ask to pet it. But this one seemed different. I admired that baby, but didn’t want it. I yearned for its adolescence and irreproachability. I wanted to know what it was to be caressed and adored and to possess some sort of significance while exerting little to no effort. I had never wanted a baby of my own, but, I mean…a baby. …Like an infinitesimal, primordial being, curiouser and curiouser, like a frog you kept in a shoebox when you were six. I wondered what percentage of eraser shavings made up landfills. The bus arrived at its destination in old Chinatown in Manhattan. Once, my mother asked if the bus usually stopped in old Chinatown or new Chinatown, but I didn’t know what that meant. I walked from the bus stop to the edge of Chinatown, in the direction of a cheap Vietnamese restaurant that I knew of. On the way, a line of ducks hanging in a window was illuminated by a single, off-putting orange, fluorescent bulb dangling from an unsteady wire. The restaurant was in between a Dunkin’ Donuts and a storefront that sold t-shirts that said “Fuck you, you fucking fuck.” I ate duck on white rice and cabbage and made unsightly faces and small, gagging sounds when I accidentally bit into the cloves of nutmeg. I watched as food emerged from a large, metal pulley-operated platform with small tickets attached to the plates by wooden clothespins. The air was unbelievable cold, despite the absence of wind. I waited inside of a Starbucks for you to call. The humming of the space heater was like an industrial-sized kitchen mixer and made it difficult to differentiate drink orders from Christmas songs. When you called and said you were close by, I waited on the corner of the street, until finally you appeared on the diagonal. From a distance, I took notice of the curvature of your chin, still and unshaven, and the refraction of light from your golden camel pin that we had purchased together in a souvenir shop on the Atlantic City boardwalk. We waited for the appropriate traffic signals, a sort of game, a kind of secret chess match. “The king moves to where your bishop would be. OK.” When we met, we embraced for several seconds. Your feet planted firmly on the pavement and mine, unsteady and slippery on a small patch of snow on the sidewalk which gave me a slight advantage in our tremendous height difference. I remembered once when you stood above me and said that you could see the highlights of red in my hair, a soft touch, a sunny day, a convoluted memory. Or was that a dream.
'Wet people holding hands have died of electrocution together.'