Friday night Xy and I had mushrooms for dinner. Just a handful, split between the two of us.
We went for a long walk. It was a strange and wonderful night. The relative sizes of things kept changing. This made it difficult to cross certain streets without being hit by cars. We sat on the edge of the bayou for a while, watching the sky, which was boiling with fractal patterns, and the soothing silver ripples on the water. In the distance we heard someone speaking backwards over a loudspeaker. Eventually we were drawn into the park to seek the source of this sound.
I kept feeling like a tourist, in part because I thought this might make a good alibi for gawking at everything, but also because I kept thinking I was in other places — Venice, Rome, Madrid, Brazil, Wisconsin.
When I looked at Xy I couldn’t help but notice that she was surely the most beautiful woman in the world, and I was overwhelmed with feelings of romantic love.
We stopped atop a bridge in the park and shared a kiss. As we looked down into the quiet waters, beneath the moss covered oak branches, we saw a gigantic fish, big as a whale and pale as moonlight, swimming silently toward us and under the bridge. We went to other side to watch it emerge, but instead we saw a swan, just as pale and just as silent coming toward us from the other direction.
I felt that I could have stayed on that bridge forever. But finally we were drawn onward to seek the source of the backwards voice which continued to sound intermittently.
We wandered past strange sights: a man hanging upside down by his feet, empty tents and tables laid out as if for a wedding feast attended by ghosts, and (quite suddenly) a bustling amusement park tucked away in the middle of the park. Even as I scoffed at the miniature roller coaster and the garish lights strung up in the trees, I was filled with a sense of universal love, a love for all humans and all living thing on earth, and I thought that having a child would be a good thing. I mentioned this to Xy and she replied, “I wasn’t thinking about that at all.”
And finally we found ourselves at Tad Gormley stadium, where a track and field event was taking place. I was briefly convinced that we were at the Olympics or some other world-class event, but this illusion was quickly dispelled when the race began and the athletes knocked over most of the hurdles. Why the announcer was speaking backwards, I’ll never know.
Later, as we made our way home, I felt Shiva reach through the earth with long arms, all the way from the Indian subcontinent, and clap me between his hands.
We listened to music while I gave Xy a massage, the Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem. I felt Verdi must have appreciated something intrinsic to the human experience, and I was again suffused with a sense of universal love, quite an unusual feeling for a misanthrope like me.
Xy went to sleep and I sat on our couch with a cat (Van) for a long while, listening to one of the neighbor girls (Crystal) argue with her boyfriend. I enjoyed a profound sense of well-being, of being comfortable in my body; my fingers and toes warm despite the cool evening breeze, and not at all clammy as they sometimes are; I was neither hungry for thirsty despite eating nothing but a few dried mushrooms for dinner and drinking very little.
If all this makes it sound like a completely blissful evening, I hasten to add that it was not. I forgot to mention the nausea, the tension, and the old familiar Fear. Most of this seemed to dissipate as we lingered on the bridge, in the form of a long, esophagus-rattling belch.
Finally I ate a bowl of cereal and went to bed and dreamed of walking in the park hand-in-hand with my love.