Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm probably the last person you'd ever want to have a history lesson from. I think it was James Joyce who said something along the lines that history is the nightmare from which I must awake. History, or the past, scares the juice right out of me. Not only did I suffer through what was required in school, but my own past is something that is less than stellar. While my standard mantra "live for today" seemed to cover my lackings okay, with a "hey dude" here and there thrown in for aesthetic purposes, I really don't think that party hat fit me too well. For all my non-effort, something lurked inside me: something begging for more than beer bongs at Jimmy's. I thought about where I'd wanted to go--a destination. I realized that what ever the past could tell me would most likely be misinterpreted by me as a gentle breeze blowing through my head, but this wasn't going to stop me now. Still, I didn't know if there is anything in the past that would be of use to me, personally. Of course that's wrong, so I've found out lately.

My first trip into the big relative was nothing more than a quick spin in the parking lot, so to speak. Dr. V, apparently, had designed some kind of interface to operate this device. It was smart, borrowing from my own intelligence--knowing that I was a virgin to all of this--started me off gently. I liked the fact that "It", the voice, had a familiarity that only I could recognize, whatever that familiarity may be. Fear of the unknown, mitigated by a hungry blob that talks to me while sucking my hands, such a strange thing. It is a beautiful thing, too. Almost too good to be true: although it takes me places, I still wasn't able to travel for long, and trying to find the limits of this experience just might kill me. I didn't know of a better way to prolong travel then, and I'm still trying to figure out a solution now. I digress.

My second trip confirmed to me that V had tapped into powers unknown and unexplainable. The routine was easier than ever. I found that with my first trip, the dialogue between the device and me was rudimentary, robotic. The second time around I found that things were evolving: the device knew more about me, or maybe I knew more about myself. It's like splitting your head open, taking out your brain, and setting it out on the table, holding conversations with it as an autonomous being--time on the couch. With time to reflect on my travels since, each is like a hero's journey--sent off to die and yet returning, despite all odds. I feel guilty, though. What good have I done? I'll have to put that one on the itinerary sometime: do good deeds while out.

I reached a significant milestone on this second trip. What was different this time? Destination: I finally went somewhere other than "?". Where did I go? To be honest, I had some ideas going into the sphere, but as soon as I got talking to "It" I really drew a blank (like I ever knew what time travel was, anyways). This thing sent me somewhere before I even knew what was going on.

"Why are you taking me away? I haven't given you a command yet." I said this with a slight blemish of panic coloring my tone.

"You initiated start up. Will, you must go to the Gallery first." Warm and inviting, no more "HAL" the robot.

"What is the Gallery?" Maybe a trip to the Louvre, perhaps?

"Gallery will be self explanatory, be patient."

Now this is something that I had been dying to ask, but was a little afraid to do so, "What...who are you?"

A slight hesitation, this thing was thinking of a reply. "I am a catalyst and a coupler--a mechanism for transport--servant to Will. No name assigned. What would you like to call me, Will?

I thought of a dog's name, but it fit this thing to a tee, "Rover...I'll call you Rover."


"Yes, what do you think?"

"Think...think that I am...Rover...Rover is."

Whatever...This is getting a litte too Kubrick for me right now.

Out of my body, straight up the conduit through the big relative. It took only a moment to arrive to Gallery. Gallery is a fascinating place. Here's the thing: gallery is exactly what it sounds like. It's an endless display of art and artifacts. Each scene and object is a living, breathing depiction of a moment in time. Moving through Gallery is fast and effortless. I'm sure that if I had the patience to study these treasures, I could learn something useful.

The ornately trimmed halls and fine drapery, a fabrication of the mind, I'm sure, but all seemingly tangible and real, left me feeling like I'd entered the house of some dignitary. How can one describe a dream? As soon as I felt that I had a grasp of the appearance of this place, I was distracted by yet another more marvelous scene.

Bewildered and awestruck, this all needed an explanation."What do I do here, Rover?"

"Choose a painting, Will." Rover was settling into his new identity, "Come now, I haven't got all day."

"Well, what else is here? Is this it?" Pretty ignorant, I know. All "this" was more than I could've ever of imagined. But, there's something about this place that fuels your greed to the point like that of a starved dog.

"Ballroom...there's a Ballroom, but you aren't ready for this yet, Will."

"I'd kind of like to see this Ballroom, if you don't mind."

"Follow the rabbit."

"Rover, you've got to be joking buddy."

"Alice in Wonderland." Rover said this with a tone of satisfaction, "I thought that you'd like that. Isn't it your favorite book?"

"Ah, no....The cartoon, but that was when I was little." I thought about it and began to understand that Rover was part of me, so why fight. "Nice touch, Rover."

"Thanks, Will"

I had just really noticed the checkered floor at that point, marble and black granite. Again, this place tends to be just beyond my grasp of perception, let alone try to put it into words. The checkered floor was nice, but my attention was elsewhere: Where's the rabbit, Rover? Out of one white marble tile popped out a white, fluffy rabbit. It was one of the most innocent creatures I've seen. The rabbit's turquoise eyes were lit with intelligence, and it's pink nose wiggled with an expression of charm and wit. Transmission of thought past the barrier of different species, a strange cosmic exchange; of course, this is a magic bunny I'm talking about. I felt instant trust in this guide that Rover provided me. Wherever this rabbit flopped down the tile--I followed.

Through magnificent halls with ornate chandeliers, gold leaf framed art and mirrors with statues posing nobly, breaking the space between the portals, I managed to keep up with the white rabbit. The further inward we went, the more I noticed music, and something else: chatting. Is there a party going on somewhere? I thought, I would approach this "Ballroom" with some care. I didn't really prepare myself for an active experience going into this thing...never really knew how to be ready for it anyway.

The rabbit slid to a stop, turned around and looked at me twitching its nose in a communicative manner as if to say, "This place here...this is it", then hopped into a white tile, vanishing. I stood on a balcony peering over a sea of swelling festivity. So, this is where time goes when it dies? It was the best party I've ever witnessed. Amongst the music (they play from all periods--this time '20s Jazz) and dancing, a wild mix of eras made for an interesting display. Eras were represented by shape-shifting Icons of their time as well as objects scattered here and there. You had Howard Hughes dance the Cha-Cha with Joan of Arc. Louie Armstrong and his Dixie band blowing Beethoven's Fifth with a Louisiana stagger, and Beethoven digging it right in the front row. The weirdest thing that I saw was Einstein and a panda bear laying on a pillow together, being fed grapes by Caligula. I thought, when is Fellini going to start filming all of this? What was most fascinating about this place was how nothing seemed out of time or place, except me, the only humdrum thing in there. I was the sole anachronism there. Hiding from this was ridiculous.


"Yes, Will."

"What am I supposed to do here?" I must confess: I'm not much of a socializer.

"Your supposed to go down and introduce yourself to someone, but be careful."

"I...I...really? I just go down and...."

"Don't be afraid Will, but don't let them use you. They'd want nothing more than you to indulge in their excesses. This is Ballroom. It was made for pleasure. You might want to wait, Will."

Too late.

"I've never seen you here before. What's your name?"


"I'm 1959."

"You're...I don't know? But, you look like her."



"Oooh, I just love Satchmo. Wanna dance?"


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