“I hate coming across as pretentious.”
“Don’t worry” Jamie said to Michelle. “It’s part of life.”
Michelle found the conversation she was having with her friend confusing, yet strangely ironic. The two girls had been sitting inside Erin’s and trying to make sense outside of reality. It was a coffee shop located about a quarter mile from the Boatyard. It hosted the best cannoli’s, and carried this particularly delicious Blood Orange-flavored tea imported from a local coffee shop from nearby Worcester that Jamie had been a fan of. They might have had great pastries, but who knows how Erin’s stayed in business. It was a terrible location, and there was practically no one there all day. Occasionally a giant throng of college students from Providence would find their way there on a late weeknight, but otherwise, it was the perfect environment to relax as many bohemians pondered the issues of the day.
Michelle had just confessed to Jamie the absolutely strange dream she had last night. It probably had something to do with the strange rumors of the fabled ‘hell gates’ and ghost sightings that archaeologists had seen in the Utah caves recently — and it was just as unsettling: it had something to do with sightings of these ‘gates’ opening up everywhere, and the creepy skin walkers, the ghostly apparitions of ancient Navajo mythology. They were morphing from humanoid to spirit forms, and they were pouring out of one of these spectral gates in clusters and mauling everything in sight. She couldn’t explain why, but in her dream she felt somehow they played a major role in everything that did not make sense in her life.
“Skin crawlers” Michelle muttered. “I hate those tings. They freak me out.”
“Those things aren’t real” Jamie reminded her. “Relax.”
But there was something uncanny about these recent ‘visions’ Michelle was getting. They felt way too real, and it bothered her.
“Sometimes I worry about me sounding too preachy when I try to clear my head” Michelle confessed. “But it feels like no one else seems to give notice to these sensations I can feel all around me. Like something strange is about to happen and we all just ignore it.” Michelle went on to share some more or the recent hallucinations she thought she had been experiencing.
“I mean the waking ones — day dreams I mean!” Michelle explained.
“Yes. Yes! I can deal with dreams, but this… this is…” her voice trailed off with a shake of her head. They were barely palpable, but unnerving enough for her to sense something just wasn’t right. It was almost like she felt she was in a computer program, and there were glitches happening here and there that she was starting to notice.
“That’s crazy though” Jamie corrected her teasingly while not trying to come across as unsympathetic. “It’s deep. You’re a medical expert; you know this.”
“Yeah, I know” Michelle said. “But I’m telling you. Some things go against scientific explanations. I feel this heaviness.”
“You keep saying that! Maybe if you didn’t focus on it it wouldn’t be so heavy.”
“No, I get what you mean” Michelle agreed. “Elephant in the room though that won’t go away.”
“That theory the other day. The one you shared: it’s all in one’s head! Stop doing this to yourself. You’re thinking too much about problems” Jamie insisted. “Stop watching the news. You’re adding onto the burden from all the drama of our little community.”
“Maybe” said Michelle. “But I swear, you don’t feel it?”
Jamie just gave her a blank stare. Michelle felt bad, for she knew her friend was actually trying.
“So many people feel toxic” Michelle explained. “Never wanting to build up; always gravitating towards the slander we slam against each other with. I don’t care if I sound preachy actually! People don’t seem to admit to this bad energy field all around.”
“Yeah, maybe; I don’t know. And think how most problems could be resolved if we could overcome the principle of slander – and at the same time, actually chase the concept resilient for once!”
“What do you mean?”
Michelle shrugged, and tried to make sense about what she was feeling. She didn’t want to sound completely insane, so she tried to share with her about a groundbreaking concept that Peter was telling her about. She tried to mumble something about nano-diodes and zero point energy – extracting energy out of the quantum vacuum – something that physicists in Geneva had been tampering with that Peter’s lab was privy to. A technology that allowed nano-bots to do what they want with their own artificial intelligence.
“Great, so the world becomes even more ridiculous: does anybody ever think about the consequences of shit?”
“I…I don’t know” Michelle agreed. “But what I think I’m trying to say is that I must imagine one way or another people sense what I’m trying to describe: Or everybody wants to try to save the world, but it feels like for almost all the wrong reasons. Or then there’s everybody staring at their damn palms, and now sitting there in a catatonic state –and now becoming too lazy to come up with their own critical thinking – but we hate all this but the cycle continues.” She looked at her friend with revelation. “You know, maybe Peter’s right: if we’re afraid of brave new world, we better learn the basics of technology to understand how it could work, and then build enough clout to do something about it.”
Jamie seemed visibly taken off guard. She wanted to say something in reply, but didn’t look like she knew what to say. Michelle sighed, and continued to mumble to herself. She must really have been tired. “Eh, save yourself” the thought came to her miserably. “convenience will be your downfall… a universe of convenience with no soul… that’s ironically why I want to escape this reality so much.”
“I don’t know” Michelle mused out loud to Jamie. “I guess I’m all for promoting a sense of respect among people where people are respectful towards each other and don’t make slanderous remarks towards anyone. They just simply let how amazing they live their lives do the talking. Imagine this: If you know who you really are with confidence, and strong and self-sufficient as a human being, you’ll never need to overcome your insecurities of having this low status.”
“Imagine that” Jamie agreed. “Imagine being so amazing that people would stop chasing all these stupid material goals.”
“Imagine people being so amazing because that people would stop chasing these material goals because they physically wouldn’t need them anyways in the first place. Imagine them being so superhuman, the energy crisis and housing crisis could be solved because we ourselves could solve extract our own energy needs somehow.”
“I have to admit it: you’re losing me” Jamie said with a grin. “I think you’re losing yourself too.”
“I don’t know” Michelle wondered. “I realize it’s because you’re probably right and I’m burnt out and just babbling. But imagine being so strong and resilient that chasing the rat race doesn’t even make sense, because you would never have to worry about eating, or need shelter. Having a home would be a sign of weakness, because you are so strong you could live in any environment. Your bed could be the ledge of a cliff on a glacier.”
“Interesting theory, but I won’t tell anyone if you won’t” Jamie said incredulously. “You keep that one to yourself.”
Soon Harry, along with Foresman and Lorraine, who were two other original residents of the Boatyard, had joined the girls. Being true ‘O.G.’s’, Foresman and Lorraine had lived there much longer than the rest of them, and being able to compare the past with the present, they certainly agreed that they were not too happy with the way things were turning out in the community.
“This crap going on here is like a microcosm of the bigger world” explained Lorraine. “I’m ok with the idea of getting rid of cliques, but the New Wavers are manipulative. Mark my words, they want to vote that funds not be given to any tenants against the new ‘Jubilee rules’ they want to set up.”
“Wait: are you serious?” Harry gasped with surprise. “How come I didn’t hear about that?”
“Probably because they had a secret meeting yesterday afternoon. Jake leaked it.” Lorraine explained to him and the girls what the New Wavers were up to.
“That’s so low! I can’t believe they would do that in secret!” cried Jamie. Foresman joked how this did sound like the globalist government on the planet trying to starve the few remaining nationalist governments into submission.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cruel” Jamie wondered out loud. “I always wanted to visit New Europa or Xiana near the so-called Boring Realms.”
“Well kiss visiting it good-bye with all the travel bans” joked Harry.
“This is insane” said Jamie. “The New Wavers now want to set up a travel ban?”
“What are you talking about?” cried Lorraine. “You’ve lost me. I was talking about the Boatyard, not stupid world politics.”
“Pretty much the same thing” muttered Harry. “The place really is like a microcosm of the bigger world.”
Jamie sighed: she was thinking about how with all the travel bans happening globally, her dreams of visiting places all over the world had been crushed. “I wish I had never heard of far off places. Such a cosmic tease.”
Michelle wondered about that idea for a moment. She too wished the world was different. “Yeah and who knows what even goes on in the voids” she considered. “Disinformation has made the world more dystopian.”
“The voids!” Jamie shuttered. “Alright, that DOES freak me out: don’t even bring that stuff up. It creepy!”
“The voids?” asked Foresman.
“Yeah” said Harry. “You know; the ends of the earth: the walled territories? The places the one world government has chosen to boot off the face of the earth?”
Michelle in her typical concerned fashion went on to continue her thought how things out there were rumored to go out of control, but Jamie was too worried about domestic problems to care about other conspiracy theories. “All of this is insane” she told them.
“It’s like a giant moron-athon is what it is” Foresman added. “But why is everyone so tense about conspiracy politics? Can we focus on our little part of the world? I’m losing clients because people don’t want to come into the work area since they can always hear you New Wavers arguing from upstairs. ” Harry had to agree with Foresman that the arguments really were getting pretty loud.
“Hey, don’t call me a new waver!” Michelle insisted.
“Yeah, don’t pit me in that category!” Jamie demanded. “I’m not the one proselytizing my ideas on everyone. People can’t even have any debates up there without letting themselves get emotionally charged.”
“That’s just it” Foresman countered. “I’m starting to think people let their emotions get in the way too much. It’s always you damn ‘young kids’.”
“What the hell are you talking about? You’re twenty six” said Jamie.
The group talked about what should be done. “Dammit!” thought Michelle. “We’re doing it again.” As everyone got more desperate trying to come up with a solution to the Boatyard, everyone started proselytizing to each other what was wrong with stuff in general.
“Come on, focus” said Michelle. “I don’t want to be wasting in irrelevant discussion.”
“Hey, you’re the one that drives off topic half the time” Foresman replied right back to her. “We need to just buy a new building.”
“Why should we move out?” asked Jamie. “Besides, we’re broke, and we were there first!” After a half hour of getting nowhere with a solution for the problems at the Boatyard, the conversation trailed into trying to make sense of bigger social issues again: everyone complained how that whole year, the world had really spiraled into an existential mess. Finances was something they were all feeling the effects of now; only Peter out of all of them maintained a full time job. And social issues in identity and equality politics were pitting people against each other. As the talk got spirited, everyone again kept interrupting each other trying to put in their two cents worth. But sadly, no one seemed no closer to compromising a real solution. As they kept talking, Michelle looked around the room.
“Ugh” she thought to herself. “We’re doing it again.” She knew it was probably mostly her fault, and the fact that the atmosphere didn’t match her mood felt the worst. Everything seemed to mock her now. Everything around her remained pleasant looking; same coffee shop setting, same soothing music in the background, same polished tables and laid back looking atmosphere. But now the spell was different. All this negative talk was making her distrust the superficiality of it all. She looked at her arms and the hairs where standing on end, and for a second, she shuddered and started to feel nauseous. At any rate, something about her mood they were creating felt like a trap again.
“You know” she interrupted the others. “Maybe we need to just change the subject. I swear this must be like a recurring theme: just because we think the things suck doesn’t mean everything must completely suck.”
“What’s your point?” asked Foresman. “Things do suck! We just pointed how many ways they suck. Besides, you’re usually the one that’s grim.”
“Big talks, no action, just feels like a recurring theme, that’s all” Michelle said. “Besides, things can’t be as bad as we’re making it out to be” she insisted, but it seemed to her friends that she was trying to convince herself more than the others. She shared how her aunt had told her she was discussing the same issues when she was a kid. Foresman disagreed. He put in how Tim’s uncle had told him the same thing recently about serious civil unrest, that’s also why but had built that bomb shelter under his house.
“See? What did I just say” Foresman laughed.
“Do you really think it’s that bad?” Jamie scoffed.
Foresman shrugged. “Hey, according to Tim, he’s been around a lot longer than any of us.”
“Yeah, and it’s possible Tim’s poor uncle has finally cracked under all this pressure” said Lorraine. “But that’s nuts! That’s going way too extreme.”
Harry looked at Michelle. “Hey, remember what you told me on Saturday?” he asked with some apprehension. “Do you think there really is some truth to all that astrology superstition?”
“Please don’t bring that up” Michelle said with embarrassment.
“No, seriously. Some sort of time cycles happening that explain all this?” he asked her. “Maybe Rita was right.”
“I wasn’t being serious” Michelle replied with a nervous laugh. “Naw, I don’t think so, but if you want my honest opinion, maybe it’s Rita, though, who is slightly spaced out.
“For insisting on time cycles?”
“Yeah, and for all her talk about menstrual cycles instigating this whole stupid thing with Peter.” Michelle insisted. “Look; I have a degree in biology and pre-med studies, and Peter has a masters in astrophysics. She’s the one that got him in trouble with the New Wavers with all this irrational new age-y talk. When he left, she didn’t even show any regret for any of this happening to him. You know, it’s thinking like this, and talking like this that is making us look more ignorant than educated – if we take the average of everyone who lives at the Boatyard.”
“Ignorant?” asked Lorraine incredulously. She didn’t really like being pitted as ignorant. “Sorry; dumber” said Michelle. She was not in the mood to be polite. The others decided not to argue. She may have been open minded, but from what they knew about Michelle, she was sometimes more obsessed with getting to the facts than being polite. Maybe that’s why she was willing to defend Peter so much. Lorraine went on to remind everyone what they were originally talking about: the ridiculous problems of the ‘real’ world reflected those in the Boatyard, but on a larger level.
“Don’t worry” Jamie said finally. “I guess if things get any worse, we can always freakin’ move out.”
“See, I don’t particularly care to want to move out” said Foresman. “We were there first. And we were doing fine for several years before all this bullshit started to happen” he added as he looked at Lorraine.
“Agreed” Lorraine said. “If the new comers – I’m not saying you – but if the newcomers can’t assimilate into our community without trying to completely revitalize everyone else’s way of thinking, well then maybe they should find a new warehouse to live in.”
“Yeah” Foresman agreed. “We’re the ones that had to find this stupid place. Zoning permits, original loan. This is not what I signed up for.”
Suddenly a team of guys walked into the coffeeshop and took over three entire tables. It was odd seeing this many people here late night: Michelle looked at the young men and grinned. They looked like the stereotypical ‘bros’ that would try to seduce her and her friends at her college parties: they were all wearing matching polo shirts and brand new sneakers that looked like they came right out of the shoebox. Some of them had on backwards baseball hats, and they all had chiseled faces. And almost all of them where white. The timing couldn’t have been more inappropriate.