“What is up with these people? What about the fact that these idiots were the ones causing the drama? The stupid elephant in the room to be created because they didn’t warn Kyle?” Peter shouted with frustration.
Michelle was looking out the window of the restaurant. She was making whirlpools in her OJ with her straw while the large Caucasian man with his dark hair and trimmed beard sitting across from her looked on. They both had a free afternoon and had decided to escape the Boatyard that day: there was some more drama going on involving one of the residents sleeping with someone else’s girlfriend. This was the second time it happened in as many months, and morale and distrust in the Boatyard had reached an all time high. Seeing how nobody wanted to tell Kyle what was going on with Kika and Lloyd, Michelle found herself being the first one to insinuate the breaking news to poor Kyle. What she got for her efforts was a third of the community getting mad at her for stirring up ‘drama’.
“Everything gets distracted by more distractions and addictions” Michelle mumbled. “That’s what caused this, don’t you think? What’s crazy is that it’s considered even more wrong now to actually call someone out on their bullshit than actually be the one caught cheating on someone.”
“I’ve been having my own thoughts about the New Wavers” Peter noted. “But I think we’re not alone. There’s a lot of people there that want the extra drama to stop.”
“Not when whatever you originally define as decency is now subjective” Michelle added. “Look how messed up the community is now.”
“Hell, look how messed up the world is” Peter snorted in agreement. “You know, if we as a human race really wanted all this crazy to stop, well, we’d stop I guess, wouldn’t we? I mean we truly are the only things that are holding us back — maybe. Or maybe we should accept it’s just in our DNA — our chemistry — for bullshit to be part of daily life. If that wasn’t true, history would have changed and advanced by now.”
“Yeah, but humans don’t really want to stop” Michelle pondered. “They’ll drive themselves right to the ground until something bigger finally puts them in check.”
Peter smiled. “I sense a global warming sermon coming on.”
Michelle smiled too. “I’m..I’m sorry: I’m doing it again aren’t I? “I wish I could just escape this shit . I need to leave this planet.”
It was the first summer Michelle experienced since she moved into this place called the Boatyard. Despite the recent drama going on in the community, in truth, she was loving the new freedom that reduced rent brought her along with most of the people she was meeting. She just wished more of the Boatyarders had more sense to avoid these existential pitfalls that she felt were so obvious. This young man in front of her had just returned from a long trip. He had been a resident at the Boatyard longer than she, but she had just met him a few weeks ago and discovered he was someone who could relate with most of her ideas. And while everyone else would just start to nod with fake-politeness when she could feel one of her internalizing rants coming along, Peter here was always a most attentive listener. They were both in science fields for one thing, and he would bring up theories as ludicrous as hers about the world and about physical nature. But Peter would always catch himself and make sure his thoughts were grounded on empirical proof or at the very least mathematical conjectures that credibly justified whatever ideas he would throw at her.
Michelle felt safe around him: no matter how lunatic some her theories sounded, they seemed to amuse this young man and peak his interest enough to consider what she was saying — unlike virtually all the other members of the Boatyard. Sure there were some others like Jamie or Foresman who seemed ok to talk to she was feeling troubled about something , but the truth was that they could barely keep up and (she sensed) barely even comprehend whatever thoughts that she was trying to process out of her head. So when Michelle had something to get off her chest, she was always grateful when Peter was around.
This one concern Michelle was feeling had been brewing for a while: these ‘New Waver’ residents that had just moved into the Boatyard had been a handful, and they seemed more intent on trying to take over the atmosphere of the commune than help build it.
Michelle looked at the straw paper she had been playing with for the last thirty seconds. She had sculpted it from a DNA strand into a pretzel tie and now into a strange looking bird: her origami teacher at the art museum would have been proud. Peter let his mind zone out as he stared at the shapes she was making, and then at the patrons walking into the restaurant. They were dining at a ‘Waffle Warlord’: it was a restaurant chain that (inexplicably) specialized in all forms of Won-ton soups, grilled cheese sandwiches and Belgian waffle combinations. It was such a bizarre idea for a food chain, but it was immensely popular, and both being fans of the restaurant, this gave Michelle and Peter a chance to escape the Warren side of Providence and check out social scene on Thayer Street near Brown University.
“Leave this planet!” Peter finally said with a chuckle. It was evident he was actually processing what Michelle had just said. “Yeah if only it were so. But I wonder if I could be free from…myself.”
“I think I know what you mean” Michelle said. “You ever feel like you’re trapped inside of an imperfect host body and wish somehow –you could just …level up?”
“You mean like in a video game?”
“Like superheroes? I mean… I don’t know what I mean.” She sat silent while she drank her OJ while observing the city life outside all along Thayer street. “I have something that’s been on my mind” she confessed. “I can’t explain why I think of it often. But it’s like my brain can’t help but think of these things. It’s your fault” she added teasingly. “Partially. You and your conspiracy stories about Dogobogs, and all the shit going on out there in the world.”
“Demodads” Peter corrected her.
“That stuff’s not even real!” said Michelle. “But here goes: With all the crazy stuff going on everywhere, what do you think of this idea?” and she tried to elaborate on a notion that had been growing on her mind. Where did she get these imaginations, Peter wasn’t totally sure. But he appreciated that creative mind of hers.
“So you think the meaning of life is really about overcoming our addictions?” he finally asked her after she laid out her whole theory to him.
“I wouldn’t say it like that” Michelle corrected him. “I just think that those things that makes our own personal lives so difficult we justify because too many so-called experts have told us it’s ok to settle. They’ve excused it all as just chemical reactions that define the traits that make us human, no matter how unidealistic these traits are.”
“But we are just a process of chemicals” Peter reminded her. “That’s all true. That’s all our bodies and brains are.”
“De-evolution” she considered. “Well if this is it – if this is all it is to mean to be human, then it feels like a limited version: slaves to impulses that most of the time just cause more self-destruction than efficiency.”
“Hey, I wish it were different” said Peter “but that’s just the way it is.”
“No, I don’t buy it though” Michelle wondered. “Hear me out: you study physics and planets and astral bodies and processes – amazing beauty in all its mechanisms. I’ve studied biology and the human body. Unbelievable efficiency despite its surface chemistry that leads to suggest there are chemical imbalances here and there. But overall, the probability of things keeping an organism alive just by the basic functions; the way all these chemicals work together — are more perfect than not don’t you think? Otherwise they would not be able to sustain being alive in the first place.”
“I guess. But what in the world are you getting at?”
“I’m trying to explain something to you!” Michelle said somewhat frustrated. She was not always good at articulating her thoughts. It was something she really wanted to work on. “I’m just saying that despite the marvel of design of everything we study in nature, we as human living organisms – it seems odd to me that no one can ever really get along with each other. And I just think that as a world, we’re fighting the battle of bringing world peace in the wrong arena.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’re supposedly trying to build technology on fixing the environment, ending disease half of these civil problems all over the world. And we have all this medication and pharmaceuticals to solve the flaws of the human body at a chemical level, but I feel like the real fight is in inner space.”
“Sub atomic space” Michelle tried to explain. “Some other dimension: hell, I don’t know. Something that can not be quantified so empirically. Or even fully subdued at the more macro-chemical level. And since almost all scientific frontiers view solutions view mastering chemistry as the salvation to all progress, some suggestions that are more metaphysical will always be written off as crackpot philosophy.”
“Well there is a reason for that” Peter snorted as he straightened himself on his chair and rubbed his temples. “Things that can’t be empirically tested can’t be considered – ‘real’. Otherwise, you’ll start to sound like one of my crazy aunts…no offense, I mean.”
Michelle looked visibly offended and Peter quickly tried to correct himself.
“I mean, I mean, I do see what you mean” he added. “But be real: in reality …what I’m trying to say is that if someone starts following that train of thought of imagining factors that have no scientific basis, it can easily lead to superstitious nonsense: emotionally twisted views of reality, and chaos.”
“Or harmony maybe” Michelle countered.
“Or cluelessness, just like the New Wavers.”
“The New Wavers?” Michelle asked with an annoyed look of disbelief.
“Shit I’m not saying you” Peter corrected himself. “I’m just saying that–”
“All I know is if I do the opposite of what be at every delinquent impulse I have, life starts to make more sense to me on the ideal front of everything: I’m not afraid as much. I don’t feel guilty. But ultimately yes, I am not stupid: we are chemical beings. But at the same time, no I refuse to believe that that is as far as it goes: that that is the ultimate answer to explaining life.”
Peter was starting to look frustrated himself now. Michelle could tell: his chest puffed up just a bit more, his neck thicker, his eyes just a little more bloodshot.
“What?” she asked him. “I’m not trying to disregard science here. I’m just speculating…come on! Something doesn’t add up.”
“We are chemistry” Peter reminded her. “Nothing more. I know it sounds more pleasant and candy-land to say otherwise, but come on: don’t kid yourself. Don’t be like the New Wavers and start deluding yourself with crazy ideas. The sooner a person accepts reality, the quicker they can be successful and get on with their lives.”
“We are chemistry” Michelle agreed. “But simultaneously something else. I mean, look at this way: what agreed you to come here and meet me?” Peter stuttered for an answer and looked visibly red, and she found the reaction curious. “We have free will” Michelle added. “We have free will, ultimately… to not just give in to chemical impulses, and thus create more ideal circumstances in the long run, and better, healthier relationships. That’s scientific wellness right there. Don’t you think that must give us a clue?”
“I… I…. would just be careful” Peter replied. “You’re getting out of the world of scientific. If you’re going to start thinking like this, put the disclaimer: don’t become a New Waver and start believing reality is subjective or some insane shit. All I know is this path will lead yourself to turning into an emotional basket case.”
“You know” said Michelle “you’re not going to turn into a New Waver just because you just accept a little more unscientific reality into your life.”
“And you’re not going to sound like a sane individual if you start believing all sorts of superstitious or subjective ideas that come into your head” said Peter. He couldn’t help himself one upping the young woman in front of her, but secretly he wished he could stop himself before he would do it. This put a damper on the moment, and in some ways both of them were sorry that their respective zeal for trying to make sense of current events brought a wedge in their conversations. Both of them knew how headstrong each other were with their own ideas, and their voices grew loud while the waitress finally brought their orders.
“The fact is the limits of your physical body and its chemistry is more powerful than any ideals you claim” Peter concluded.
“I’m not trying to deny reality” Michelle defended herself. “I just think there’s got to be a way to override…”
“You need to breath, don’t you?” Peter interrupted. “Or use the bathroom. Or…you know; well at least eventually. And no matter what, you are a slave to all of it: the imperfection of what it is being in a human body; its laziness, its propensity to be selfish and greedy are sadly stuck in its physical limits despite how you wish it could work otherwise. Girl, this is just part of life.”
“I don’t believe that” Michelle said obstinately “In fact, I determine to prove that wrong.”
Peter looked troubled. “Hey. Don’t kill the messenger” he told her “I’m just applying rationalism to the conversation.”
“But existing ideally can’t be just be about ‘rationalism’ Michelle insisted. “Not if it’s just rational to accept self- destructive habits so cavalierly.” Just then a large crowd of students came in and sat next to them. The loud noise of their merrymaking made Michelle forget her line of thought, and as she and Peter ate their food, she was trying to remember what she wanted to say to him.
“What is it?” he finally asked her after a while. “What are you thinking?”
“Well, I’m almost afraid to share it with you seeing how you’ll think I’m stupid or something” she told him.
“Come on” he insisted with encouragement. “I’m not that callous. I’m open minded. You can say it.”
With some reluctance, Michelle shared another notion that she had been thinking about lately over the weekend: this one was so odd that she was fully expecting the look he gave her as he put down his bowl of Won-ton soup.
“So let me get this straight” he said to her. “You think mother earth is an entity and humans are sort of a virus? The big Gaia hypothesis? You got to be kidding me. Come on, you’re more educated than that.”
“No. I don’t think humans are a virus” Michelle defended herself.
“Well it’s no less sensible than some of your so called Demodad conspiracy theories! God, honestly Peter:no I’m not trying to say that at all! I’m just saying I feel like something has repressed us from our full potential. I just don’t know what that is. But the world is definitely divided: over half of it hates the fact we’re human. Even you can’t deny that. But most of them feed into the bullshit: the very part they hate that discredits humanity in the first place. And It almost feels like the other half is so confused it just buries its head in the sand because it doesn’t believe in anything anymore. I get it though. It’s much easier that way.”
“The perfect enemy to not have to fight” Peter agreed. “I wonder” he said after finishing his soup. “If you could get rid of this imperfect shit you call the human being, Would you?”
“What do you mean?” Michelle answered. “You mean like mass genocide? Do I look like some sort of sociopath?”
“No,no ! I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean… Have you considered the genetic modification trends they’re doing in the mainland continents?”
“You mean like the cavorting procedures?”
“The cyborg stuff and the bio-cyborging; yeah, exactly.”
“Messing with your neurons” Michelle frowned at him. “You want to talk about slippery slopes, Peter. I’m just wishing there was a natural, a more holistic way to supersede the limits of human ability – the stupidity of human tendencies.” Michelle looked at her grilled cheese sandwich. She was too hungry to finish her thought, and dipping it into the cheap bowl of tomato soup next to her plate she concentrated on her meal for a moment.
“What if it wasn’t a procedure. But a place?” Peter considered after a few minutes. He had finished his waffle and it tasted terrible. “Way too much syrup on this thing.”
“I know. The quality of these have gone down hill in this place.”
“Well if there was another Waffle Warlord in the area, I would definitely hold out for it!”
Just then the waitress interrupted their train of thought even more by dishing out to the a slew of varieties on the dessert menu: cheesecake and strawberry topping, cheesecake and cherries, cheesecake blueberries, walnuts, gummie candy and the list went on and on.
“What were we talking about anyway?” Peter asked his friend. “I hate when that happens.”
“I don’t fully remember” said Michelle as she rubbed her forehead. “I hate when that happens.”
As Peter bit into hi waffle again it dawned on him. “Oh yeah, I remember now: would you seek it?”
“Well, do you think having a superhuman body would solve everything?” Michelle wondered at that idea. It never really dawned on her before all the possibilities, and other unforeseen circumstance, and suddenly she could feel some sort of revelation brewing up inside of her. She was about to share it with Peter when just then the waitress came back with yet another dessert menu. And as she bombarded Michelle and Peter with a huge list of popover roll flavored specials, the revelation Michelle was internalizing vanished in a puff of smoke.
“I lost it once again” she told Peter when the waitress disappeared. “It’s so frustrating: why does my brain want to work against me most of the time? Why is there always all this friction?”
“Because we’re human” Peter answered sensibly.
Michelle wondered: “This just can’t be it. We don’t reflect the beauty and strength of nature all around most of the time.”
“What the are you talking about?”
“Biology. All the green and the landscapes around on this planet. It’s like perfect. Nearly perfect at least. I go back to my first point during this dinner.”
“Are you kidding?” Peter reasoned again. Maybe it was the waffles, but he appeared visibly weary with all this talk. “Have you watched the news? Hurricanes. Volcanoes. Basically a natural disasters every other week. First terrorist attacks, fracking, and now a lava fissure or some earthquake that would take out your home just like that. That’s not perfect nature babs.”
“Still” Michelle insisted. “I tell you it wasn’t intended to be like that.”
Peter put is arms up in defeat and then after a face palm he looked at her with a grin. “Now don’t let anyone at your job hear you. This physical world, you, us, the planet…is imperfect.”
“That’s what I’m saying!” she countered. “It’s imperfect, but not because of some glitch in the chemistry process of it. I believe some other mechanism dampers perfection. Even you brought up the idea once of something maybe in the air. What if that was the independent variable that regulated everything?”
“People’s attitudes. Moreover, it causes people to be reckless: something in their lack of self-control.”
“See, that just proves your theory is off” Peter told her. “Sadly. Believe me, I’m on your side I want to believe you. .But cells, chemicals on the body govern everything, not the other way around.”
“We’re not just automatons” she countered.
“Yes we are.in a way” he insisted. “Like it or not, sooner or later you need to eat, sleep. You need to… well you know.”
“No I don’t know” she said but she could read his mind. “Ok, we got to reproduce somehow.”
“But ultimately it’s all Biology!” said Peter. “This free will idea is a joke; a cosmic joke.”
“No I don’t believe that!” Michelle yelled, and she blushed seeing how the party next to them all turned around and gave them a condescending smirk. It made her even more frustrated.
“I do understand what you’re trying to think here” Peter reassured her. He looked out the window pondering her ideas. “You think the planet is like Gaia: mother Earth, sentient – like a person. But that’s what I like about you: at least you think outside of the box.”
“Well if it’s any consolation, you do too” she said. “You’re just afraid of being alone if you embraced that kind of thinking. It’s not…it’s not true.” Peter looked at her and as his eyes met hers, there was something in that gaze. It was but for a second, but it overwhelmed him and he blushed and looked away.
“Why does stuff make major headlines one week and then conveniently continue to disappear on the news right afterward?” Michelle asked. “It’s like major news outlets appear to continue to cover things up.” They were walking along Thayer Street by Brown University and had decided to stroll down the famous street before heading back to the Warren area.
“Because they don’t want you to hear of it and chew on what’s really going on” Peter agreed. “It’s always been like this. And that’s why we never get to the bottom of anything in the world.
“What do you think of Saek Dark Newroka?” Michelle asked him.
“The event horizon beyond old Eastern Europe? My theory on it?” Peter turned around and looked at her with surprise. “That’s a trick question” he laughed.
“No, really” she insisted. “They call it event horizon for a reason.”
“Well, my theory is that something is there” said Peter as he walked. “But I don’t believe the alien theory. I would think that’s impossible that nothing has ever leaked out about that if it were true.”
“Why not?” Michelle wondered..”Maybe the world United nations have struck a compromise to stop further invasion.”
“That’s insane” Peter said. “Some thing would have leaked out on the dark web. The event horizon wall…”
“But what if that’s a real thing?”
Peter looked visibly wigged out and looked like he didn’t want to talk about it. He mumbled something about directed energy weapons causing wildfires that kept everyone out of those areas, but nothing that satisfied her questions.
“DEW’s, huh? Well then what about the urban legends of Xiana north of the Boring Realms? Antarctica?” Michelle insisted.
“That’s just hearsay.”
“No think about it: why do they call it the ‘Boring Realms?’ It’s like the powers that be went out of the way to repute it so dull in contrast to that northern region
“Look this is why science and rational thinking is so important” Peter told her. “You ‘ll go down a rabbit hole with these conspiracy theories you cannot control if you don’t. Spend the rest of your like getting distracted by these fairy tales fantasies and end up like the Balsheevite sirens or something of legend.”
“But rational thinking has its limits” she countered back. “It’s not that I don’t agree with you. But it still doesn’t make sense” Michelle insisted. “Mass plague. Famines; come on, Peter. There’s got to be a better way to face this and fix problems. I’m so confused: we’re having this discussion, but despite all that’s happening life goes on as of everything seems to be just fine. At least that’s how people act like it is. Why does everybody seem to want to look the other way?”
“Well aren’t the New Wavers claim to be activists the reason maybe people get annoyed at people walking around like self-appointed saviors to fix everything?” Peter considered.
“But those agendas they campaign for aren’t solving the bigger issues I think.”
“I understand your concerns about the world” Peter reassured her as they took a right towards a side street to get to their car. “By why do you let yourself think like this?”
“I don’t…I don’t know” Michelle groaned as she planted her hands on her face in frustration.
“You need to lighten up maybe” Peter reckoned.
““I’ve been searching for keys and master keys to unlock the mysteries that make sense of life” she confessed. “It’s what my mind does. I can not help it: it just comes to me; to try to figure it all out.. I’ve realized understanding the deceptiveness of ego is the bigger key.”
“Why are you so overdramatic?” Peter asked her as he got in the car. Michelle shook her head sadly but did not say anything at all.
“What? I’m sorry!” Peter told her during the drive home. But Michelle just looked out the window as they drove through Providence and back to the Boatyard.