In an unfamiliar city, I’m part of a group trying to make it to a secret party. You see, at the moment it’s not the right time for parties — maybe it’s the pandemic, maybe it’s just illegal, so we’re operating on old-school I-know-a-guy wink-wink-nudge rules — ring the right doorbell, know the right password, that sort of thing.
The city is like New Orleans but located where Seattle should be. In full costume, I end up in a villa newly purchased by a cool girl I know (D. Baskin). All the lights are off to keep things on the down-low. For a bit we’re the only two people inside the building (she’s working on her laptop), and alone I explore a graceful courtyard, and admire a plaster wall hand-painted with sunflowers — real sunflowers growing just outside the window in the drizzly charm of what looks like the French Quarter.
I try to bid farewell to her several times, each time not quite getting it right. I screw up enough that it’s starting to weird her out, but I… can’t… quite… get there.
I wake up about 2 am, knowing I’ve gotten enough sleep and could in fact start my day. I decide against it and continue the rest of the night, but successfully encode the previous dream in memory.
The noble coast of Greece, transposed to be the same as the California coast but facing an ocean to the east. Broken into fiefdoms of varied size and population, equivalent to counties of California, with history and legends stretching into deep antiquity. Beyond a large promontory on the map, I view the lined topography as far as Zephyrr county — its steep forested cliffs set along a low-lying sea shelf, so wide it’s almost a lake made of ocean.
In the persona of a college-age young adult, I explore the lively historic rectangular valley which is an inverted Parthenon. I discern it’s evolution by visiting every corner, seeing the specific purpose it’s grown into. This activity itself is academic, and there are often structures of learning too. It is an elegant, civilized, manicured, but undersized space.
I eventually leave via my teacher (Mr. Suggett from 4th grade) challenging some of us to escape through a maze of militarized/fortified utility pipes. I am the first to make it outside, observing structures for flood control; another sluice beyond this exit doubles the water-shedding capacity. I see a broad swath of green valley and mountain range in the far distance below the slope on which I stand, larger than Yosemite — a greater vista than any I’ve seen in a long time. It’s obvious how the Parthenon Valley has been hidden, as now that I have left I can understand how it sits flush with the slope of rock leading down. On the rock perches an unassuming Orthodox church, American flags hung outside of it. Perhaps it is a monastery; perhaps it’s abandoned.
I sit in class in the middle of a row of four desks between my childhood friends Vince Saunders and Khalil Amin. I have let my long hair fully down and it feels a little greasy; I keep my hand grasped in it most of the time and feel more at ease knowing there are students behind. Yet I sit in class idly dejected, ignoring the lesson. I search through my binder for an old assignment, one I decided not to do at the time. As I pore over the photocopied chapters it’s obvious it would have been useless to complete anyway; I would have learned nothing.
Outside the school, in the wide desert in my childhood home of the Coachella Valley, I view the central river (where there is usually a freeway). Adjacent to the river my school district has set up a tall, boxy, sandstone-colored water treatment facility along a long stretch of mucky marshland. I make my way, with a group of friends, to explore with the hope that we can escape the pointlessness of school for a time. Luckily it turns out the treatment/harvest facility can be run with a bare bones staff — and they’re not even there right now.
Having now gained access to the length of the river, we wade along the bottom moving down the current. Soon it gets very wide, and we can walk. The day is hot, bright; the river red, rocky. We walk mostly in contemplative silence, Vince, Kahlil, Lauren, perhaps others. I wear a watch which, if I double-click it, starts recording audio — I usually don’t remember until it’s a little too late though. The river narrows around a curve, the dry desert hillside sheltering someone’s garage under a little overhang in which I hunt bats with my Homepie friend Lauren. Just a little further down river from that we venture up into a little canyon, discovering public bathrooms marked with red/green lights for occupancy. Lauren, a bit like Patsy on Absolutely Fabulous, panics that I won’t be able to get out, though I do by backing out. As usual I’ve forgotten to start recording.
Our group has become larger as we gather in a large hanger set into a precipitous cliffside along the river. Inside is an abandoned Ferris Wheel which we begin to incrementally repair. The thing has the feel of long-neglected military hardware; it shouldn’t surprise us (though it does) when it explodes. Several important characters are destroyed, but then perfunctorily a saved game is reloaded. The progress of the story then depends on deciding which of the collected characters should be sacrificed — the Jules Verne, the Swede, or perhaps Patroclus — anyone with a mechanical aptitude rating can activate the machine while the rest of us, conveniently, stand back this time. But it is known that it will explode no matter what.