Preface Harry’s Letter

Michelle once mentioned a word that describes all this para-normality going on outside, but I can’t remember what it is; only a vague memory of what that word might be lurks somewhere in the back of my mind.  All I really remember was that her explanation gave me relief from fear. .  I wish could remember, though.

I have so much time on my hands now to ponder things I don’t want to —  like what I’m about to say to whoever reads this:

If it hasn’t already, too much information will destroy us. As Michelle said, “information unbalanced leads to chaos”.  Understand, I’m trying to be optimistic.  I’m hoping for the best, but I swear, most people only hear what they want to hear.  And, since I swear, most people conveniently ignore me and their problems. What happens in a world of ignorance?  Fake politeness with dark undertones. 

I’ve been thinking about this ever since this year turned into one of the strangest political years I’ve ever experienced in my life. That, and I moved into the Boatyard. It’s where I met Michelle.

I have all the time in the world to sit in this bunker, so now I can finally gather my thoughts. It’s been a week and a half. Do I sound depressed?  I’m sorry: I’ve never written anything like this before.

My name is Harry.  How did we end up here?  I have no freaking clue what happened.  All I can think is how as this year progressed. The complaints some Boatyard-ers had against anyone living differently than themselves came to an unpleasant head. Who was in the wrong? Everybody. Who is able to judge since they all think they were morally justified to be assholes. I think it boiled down to prospects in a shitty economy. Suddenly people can’t stand to look at themselves – they have an obsession with amplifying minute social injustices. The new form of entertainment for the masses: pitting everyone against each other.  This unhealthy societal obsession didn’t stop until everything snowballed out of control –until everything finally blew like a powder keg in one giant cosmic foobar on this particular year on the calendar.  Maybe Peter was right about those creatures after all.

Funny, because before all this shit began, I had a feeling. A premonition. The weather patterns certainly had not been helping, but everything was taking a turn for the surreal. Presidential elections, wars, famine, the refugee crisis. Hell, even vague numerology signs were starting to wig me out.  Two months ago, my uncle even told me something insane: the same thing had happened to him when he was my age.  On one of the most draining years of his life, an election just as bad as this one had played out.  Someone had even shown him how if you added the three-rule pattern of 666+666+666, followed by adding the singular integers within themselves as 6+6+6 and then adding them together, you would come up with the number of that year: 2016. 

  I’ve been trying to figure out if there is a similar numerology pattern of bad luck for this year.

In an ideal world, all these events suggesting everything was falling apart would have been all just irrelevant clichés – the kind of things people who are never satisfied complain about all the time.  It would have been easy to not get so stressed about these things, if I hadn’t joined the Boatyard. 

The fucking commune.  If anybody ever reads this, the Boatyard is/was an abandoned warehouse located by the marina off Narragansett Bay near Barrington, Rhode Island.  Although this area was exclusively wealthy, there were a lot of recent college graduates and bohemians from Orange University that had slowly migrated into ‘the docks’ on the Warren side of the Barrington River.  This was a more economically challenged section that still gave some of us grads a chance to physically run back to the safety-net of our parents when things got financially rough.  The blue collar locals would ridicule us. They claimed all these young grads were just a bunch of brats who wanted to identify with the oppressed of society, and by doing so, they were actually jacking up the rent for everyone. Looking back, maybe they were right. Hell, I’ll admit it:  I myself was not exempt from this convenience.  I remember that instead of starving for a few days, more than once I could  mooch a take home meal and some money from my parents when I couldn’t cut rent that month.  By the way, I miss my parents.  I really hope you’re safe…

Anyway, I should really just tell you about myself: I had a $70,000 debt to pay from my worthless liberal arts studies degree that I was having a hard time paying off, and the economy, well, as you know;  it just plain sucked. Despite the path of good intentions nothing has worked out the way every elder that lived in my neighbored promised me it would. No one I met ever learned anything from years ago when the first tuition bubble blew up. Like some lemming, I just followed everyone’s lead and made myself an indentured servant,  even though it’s been bringing me to the brink of insanity.  I guess I can blame myself for that.  Still, at least I can say even now, being stuck down here aside, I am one of the lucky ones. I have Michelle to thank for that. She taught me true survival – though I’m still having trouble tolerating the smell of mold in this bunker, I would have gone crazy days ago in here if I had not practiced some of the cognitive exercises she taught me. Most of my friends who took the same classes I did at Orange have ended up in the hole $100,000 – or worse. I might be on the good side of lucky.

Despite the fact that financial uncertainty had plagued me after college, I can honestly say I was very happy.  I had a job at a local art studio working on graphic designs.  It was a decent paying gig, even if not always consistent.  And after the first year, I learned how to put away money instead of blowing it on a motorcycle every time I’d run into a gob of cash after a gig.   Most of my peers couldn’t say as much: they’ve been unemployed or worked part time jobs at best.   There are barely any jobs available with this amount of overpopulation.  ‘Population inflation’ Michelle called it: the fact that we start to devalue each other when there are so many people around we just start taking each other for granted. I guess I keep going off on tangents, but it’s partially because I have no one like Michelle to talk to anymore.

Looking back, I realize she had sort of called out all of this in her own clairvoyant way: the mysteries of places like Xiana and Antarctica,  that as the seas fried up, the signs, as things got  worse nobody invested in wising up… everyone just bitter and more defiant. These are the kind of things we’d talk about: deep stuff. I’d ask a question about the universe and she’d give me an answer, one that actually satisfied both parts of my brain in a way to consider a reason and not be so at odds with each other.  I’ll never forget that day at the restaurant.

Anyways, before the disaster,  many of my friends in the area were living in apartments crowded with eight people – apartments the size of a submarine mess hall. I can proudly say I was able to cut my rent while having only three other roommates.  That lifestyle was going great.  That is, until our landlord raised the rent last year, and, finding another group of students all too willing to pay the $500 increase to now $2500 a month, I finally just had to cry ‘uncle’ and move back in with my parents in Pennsylvania. Four months later, I lucked out – or thought I did, when I returned to Rhode Island and stumbled onto the Boatyard.  It seemed a godsend – can I say that word?  Godsend?  Apologies if you are atheist.  Anyway, I know I have taken a long while to get to the point;  I just wanted to set up a perspective about my past, in case anyone lives to read this. 

The Boatyard was a commune where local artist and crafts persons rented a large warehouse space; a place that was meant to be an institution of higher learning, real social justice and enlightenment.  I loved the sound of that. A room that had just opened up. From everything I had heard prior to living there, this place was pretty cool. Not quite good enough to be considered a makerspace, the Boatyard nonetheless housed its own blacksmith shop, auto mechanics shop, wood shop, and fitness studios. Once a month, the Boatyard proudly boasted some of the best underground raves and dance shows this side of Providence. And as long as you didn’t mind sharing one community bathroom with a toilet that needed a bucket full of water to flush down contents and a floor that smelled like a urinal cake, it had everything a guy like me could hope for.

There was always something to do.  Tuesdays and Thursdays there had been an underground fight club that, as long as you didn’t mind learning the art of grappling by getting your ass kicked, was unbelievably invigorating. One session of trying to survive against a two hundred pound local street fighter, and your perspective of financial stresses would just fade away.   On Wednesdays there was yoga.  Ever since Jake, the chef, had moved in we were treated to some of the most excellent home-cooked meals you could ask for.  But the best thing about the Boatyard?  I was only paying a meager two hundred fifty dollars a month for my room, and I was surrounded in a college dorm environment without the pressures of tests and deadlines.

It sounds pretty ideal, doesn’t it?   Young people everywhere and the beach by the nearby Marina and art shops was only twenty minutes away if you walked slow.  My point is, the Boatyard was full of cute girls and awesome guys that were frequent guest visitors and just a riot to talk to.  I honestly couldn’t complain.

Then the new people moved in. Now I’m hiding in a bomb shelter somewhere with Tim, Jamie, Cheryl and Kara.  I really can’t stand Kara. Her and her friends were annoying then, and I’m glad it’s just one person now.  .   There’s four other people down here with us: Tim’s family.  The Hesselson’s are nice people, but this place was not built for a crowd this big.  I can’t  think about my own family anymore, I just hope they’ll understand.  I would think they would: there was no other option at the moment.  The clouds were everywhere.  Now we just wait it out.  Tim’s dad says it would be wise to stay down here for a bit longer, but he won’t tell us how long. ‘Try not to let your thoughts control you – the ones built on fear – and your world will change no matter where you go’:  best advice Michelle ever gave to me.  I really hope she is safe.

The ham radios still don’t work, and no cell devices can reach anyone.  I don’t know what the hell is going on above ground now right now, but I’m praying my family and friends are alright.  I hope they’ll understand. I must at least try to master fear, and discover what this disaster is all about.

I meant to start this letter by saying that information alone is not going to save us.  What do I mean by that?  Well, just as Michelle once explained it: ‘if you embrace society’s own view of reality as your only way to view it, you’ll be screwed.  See reality that is really out there; the one allowed by the laws of physics and metaphysics; master that and you’ll have a chance of eliminating stress no matter what happens.  At least you won’t be surprised by the unexpected.  You’re in a place no one can touch you.’

 I like to think that’s where Michelle is right now.  If not physically, then at least mentally. I guess what I’m saying is, if  you’re like the guys at the Boatyard – if you really believe that your particular brand of perceiving the world is the only way to go, well you better fucking make sure you know exactly what you are talking about.  Otherwise, this may happen to you too.


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