dream of the boat-dwellers

There were four of us in a pickup truck; two were visitors. We were across a gulf of water from where we needed to be, but were heading back to the other side soon. We decided to stop along the water’s edge to see the view before crossing– the sun was hitting the mountains and the water, simultaneously casting shadows and glitter.

My mother was driving, and pulled just too close to the curb at the edge. The ground, not as stable as it looked, gave way beneath the front tire and we were falling in slow motion over this weak ledge into the dark water. We closed out eyes, braced for impact. I remember saying something like hold your breath and grab what you can! We thought for a moment we would drown, be trapped underwater. I thought at first I might be able to jump out as we went over the edge, but the idea of being the only one to escape was too heavy and I didn’t move. But it turned out we didn’t die. The water wasn’t so deep as we feared.

The truck was lost, of course, but we somehow got our luggages out and they floated to the surface, where we’d been afforded a small wooden boat. From whom we got this boat I can’t recall or say, but it changed our own small existence into a boat-dweller’s tale (as often happens when one’s perspective is upturned– one encounters a new ubiquity).

Our things stayed wet for quite some time, but in our lingering and waiting for assistance in crossing (a larger vessel scheduled, I think) we met other boat people. Some of them had quite lovely homes built somehow upon the water at its very edge. There was a flotilla of smallish rafts that acted by way of being backyards, places to relax out of doors. They seemed an enviable luxury to soaked us in our small, wooden, unadorned boat, but it may have been a way of getting around dealing with the land– taxes and the like. It had a makeshift quality, this village –as nice as some of the spaces were– and we must have come upon them on a good day, as we were invited to a party in one of the houses. There were paintings everywhere in it, fetishistically so, and it seems to me Gerard was there. Music was playing and no one stayed in a room for very long. (The music was Morrissey and I woke with the song in my head “loafing-offs in all night chemists…”)

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