On Chains, Post-Apocalyptic Dreams, and Tenderness
Today, Amber is on the road to Alabama and she’s asked me, her husband, to pen a few lines. It’s not likely to be an expected piece, but it’s my offering for the day. I hope you enjoy it. Amber will be back tomorrow.
I was in a parking deck in the center of a grey-skied city. From the deck, I saw nothing but burned out buildings and glass-sharded windows. People wandered the streets, shell-shocked with eyes to the sky. Disappointed looters came from buildings, shoulders shrugging at the lack of wares to pinch.
There was ash in the sky, and it began falling like snow flurries, coating every surface and thickening into a choking hazard. I removed my shirt, soaked it in water and used it as a makeshift gas-mask. I pushed through the parking deck door and made my way into the city streets.
Brian was there. He was being held at knife-point by twelve-year old who had not the wherewithal to understand the uselessness of currency after the collapse of a modernity. Brian complied, released relics of the past. The boy then asked for Brian’s food, to which Brian bowed his chest and said he’d die first. The kid bought Brian’s bluff and ran into an ash-covered alley.
We walked among oddly quieted masses in the middle of the disquieting. All of us were trudging onward, toward a bridge, or a ferry, or some road out of town. I picked up a stray cat, put him in my backpack. Brian asked me, “why the cat?”
“I don’t know. Just seems a right act of tenderness.”
“There’s no time for that,” he said pragmatically.
“There always is,” I said.
I am prone to odd, post-apocalyptic dreams. Have been as long as I can remember. These kinds of visions creep mid-night and leave me with some lingering sense of otherness. I suppose this is part of the human experience, the way we wrestle with fears, the way we deconstruct the world in our sleep, the way we sort it all out.
It’s a crazy out there, and not just sometimes. The news this morning is filled with flooding, death, and damage. A blizzard is coming. On the backside of the commercial break, the folks at Fox News are asking whether Obama’s done anything in the past four years, whether we’re headed to some sort of socialist epoch. CNN gives a different analysis (though perhaps in more veneered terms), and wonders whether the Romney/Ryan ticket would solidify a rising classism. And this morning, millions of us are chained to our tubes.
I had hoped to write a tangible piece about chain-shirking today. After all, that’s what Amber has been doing here and I think it’s been brilliant. I’ve been watching her throwing them off and it’s been both painful and beautiful. I love a woman with the courage come free. But I’m left with nothing to add about chains, not really. Instead, I’ll give you my dream, tell you the news (as I hear it) and ask you simply whether there’s room for a little bit of tenderness.
There always is, I think.