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:

 I’m starting to believe that if it hasn’t already, too much information will ultimately destroy us because, as Michelle says, 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, they conveniently ignore all sides of what’s really going on behind so many problems. And what do we get out of it?   A world of fake politeness with dark undertones.  

Actually, all these notions have been materializing in my head for a while now: ever since this year turned into one of the strangest socio-political years I’ve ever experienced in my life.  That, and ever since I moved into the Boatyard.  Oh yeah: and after meeting Michelle.  She’s a young woman I have come to respect incredibly long before all this stuff  happened.  It’s been a week and a half, and I’m keeping this journal now.  Since I have all the time in the world now to sit in this bunker, I can finally gather my thoughts.  Do I sound redundant?  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 of is how as last year progressed, the complaints people had against anyone living a different reality than their own became ever more resentful.  Everybody thinks they were morally justified to be assholes.

It all started out innocently enough:  I think it boiled down to people becoming understandably upset about their prospects in a shitty economy, and the obsession with amplifying minute social injustices … at least more than it should have been.  It was as if something was pitting everyone against each other – almost egging people on to obsess how frustrating the world is because of other people’s idiosyncrasies.  I guess this kept going on 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.   

 Funny, because before all this shit began, I had almost started becoming superstitious anyway. The weather patterns certainly had not been helping, but no logic could have prepared for anything like this.  Truthfully, nothing was making sense to me, nothing! — Anything from gender identity politics getting complicated, to the way the presidential election race had played out; everything was taking a turn for the surreal.   Hell, even vague numerology superstitions were starting to wig me into believing that astrology was responsible for the sheer lunacy of  everything.  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 existentially 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 around me was falling apart would have been all just irrelevant clichés;  the kind of things people who are never satisfied complain about all the time — or something to ponder lightheartedly while searching the internet for answers while eating a bowl of cereal at breakfast.  It would have been easy to not get so stressed about these things, if I hadn’t joined the commune.

The fucking commune.  If anybody ever reads this, the commune, better known as the Boatyard, is/was an abandoned warehouse located by the marina off Narragansett Bay near Barrington, Rhode Island.  Although this area is exclusively wealthy, there were a lot of recent college graduates and bohemians from the areas of Orange University and Thayer Street 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.   A lot of young folk would therefore get ridiculed for this by the blue collar locals in Warren.  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, not that I can totally blame myself for being like that.  I should really just tell you about myself: I had a $70,000 debt to pay from my worthless liberal arts studies major 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 and me doing everything I thought I was supposed to responsibly do as a citizen; you know: go to college, get ridiculously in debt in student loans and then hope for the best — nothing has worked out the way every naive elder promised me it would.   

At least I can say even now, being stuck down here aside, I am still one of the lucky ones. I have Michelle to thank for that.  She taught me to question consciousness.  She taught me true survival – not so much physical – but real mental survival.  It gave me the ability to surf through any medium.   ‘There’s got to be s better way to do this no matter what as soon as you stop feeding the pleasure signals. Most humans will turn their backpacks at you because they don’t really believe in anything more than personal generic gratification: maybe that’s why we were all doomed from the start.’   — That would be something Michelle reminded me about being awake in this world.  That was the way she talked — almost as if she would get in a trance and then spout out some crazy profound revelation that alleviated whatever confusion was going on around me.  For some reason, that last quote is helping me make sense of what is going on to me right now.    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.  I guess in a parallel universe, I would have been almost as lucky right now as well in terms of financial debt.  Most of my friends who took the same classes I did at Orange have ended up in the hole $100,000 – or worse.   Anyways; my point for this story is not to whine about my fate, or get  pity from anyone that  may read this – at least not yet.   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 of losing it, 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 living in Warren couldn’t say as much: they were unemployed or work part time jobs at best.   There were barely any jobs available with this amount of overpopulation.  ‘Population inflation’ Michelle would call 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.  She feels that somehow this is what really brought about the bad vibes in the air.  If she’s right, I never imagined they would be green.  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 realized she called all of this out in her own clairvoyant way: the mysteries of places like Xiana and Antarctica, her speculations that as the seas fried up — the signs —  and as things get worse and worse people don’t wise up… they just become bitter and more defiant: it really must have been worse than twenty years ago.

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,  let me jump back a little bit.  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. 

Anyways, 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 had rented a large warehouse space; a place that was meant to be an institution of higher learning, social justice and enlightenment.  I loved the sound of that. This place had a six month waiting list, but I  knew some friends who had been long-term residents there for several years. I got lucky and got a great connection for 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 maker space, the Boatyard nonetheless housed its own blacksmith shop, auto mechanics shop, woodshops, and fitness studios; damn – even once a month and on holidays, the Boatyard proudly boasted some of the best underground raves and dance shows this side of Providence.   This place also had twenty rooms upstairs that were rent per month with no contracts needed.  The landlord is a sketchball, but as long as you didn’t ask what he did for work, he didn’t care that you stayed here as long as you paid cash.  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 were so many cool and interesting people walking in and out of there everyday.  There was always something to do.  Tuesdays and Thursdays every night at six for the last eight months, 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 you’d have in your head would just fade away.   On Wednesdays every night at six thirty, there was acro-yoga, and then regular yoga at eight.   Every night, ever since Jake the chef had moved in, we were treated to some of the most excellent homecooked meals you could ask for if you if you were a poor bastard like myself.  And as eating out turned out to become something more excruciatingly difficult to do without taxing your organs and wallet, this benefit  was a warm welcome.   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.

If you’re a simple guy like me, it sounds pretty ideal.   Young people everywhere, carefree, wanting to live off the grid while still enjoying the best of both worlds; if you just but walked two blocks down the street, there is a Marina nearby full of art shops and restaurants, and the beach 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.  And speaking as a heterosexual male, I honestly couldn’t complain, even though as soon as the new people moved in, I was afraid to admit that.

Anyway, you’d think that with living in a young guy’s paradise like this I had it great with not a care in the world.   I figured that I could pay my college loans if I lived here for twelve years, and afterwards?  It wouldn’t be so bad: I’d still be young enough to start a family.     If only if it wasn’t for this terrible  year… now I’m hiding in a bomb shelter somewhere with Tim, Jamie, Cheryl and Kara.  I can’t really 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 wish she is safe, or at least was with us – and Peter too.

 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.   Somehow in my head, I can’t help shake off this fact that we were the ones to blame.  The worst part is that this conviction doesn’t go away, it invades my system like a virus.  I would rather risk the surfaces above again if only I could shake off this internal feeling.   But try to be like Michelle.  First I must at least master fear and discover what this disaster is all about.

 I meant to start this whole letter by saying that I’m starting to believe that information alone is not going to physically 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 battle strategy to view life outside of the reality that is really out there – you know; the one allowed by the laws of physics and biology; I think you have a chance of eliminating stress no matter what happens.  At least I think she meant you won’t be so 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.  But if you’re like everyone else I know who wasted this whole time complaining about what others ought to be doing  rather than doing something with their own lives…I know, it’s cliche’ – I guess what I’m saying is, if  you’re like 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.


2 thoughts on “Preface:  Harry’s Letter”

  1. After reading the preface one develops a curiosity as to how is this story going to develop. Young people have traditionally faced challenging and uncertain situations in their early lives. However, the widespread choices offered by our increasingly decadent moral values and rapidly changing rich technology create a social environment in which choices had to be made in the face of greater complexity and uncertainty .
    I hope the readers of this story will find some help in defining choices for their better good.

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