Monday, November 24, 2008

What is real?

I got up early this morning, it was still dark and the morning a little a colder than yesterday. I waited for the sun to come up somewhere...I live in a suburb so I know when the sun is coming up because I can see the horizon change from dark to grey to gold to sky blue. What I can't see is the sun rising from one place, like over a mountain or out of the ocean.

There is a creepy moment before the colors change, the same moment happen just before dark. Stevie hated the end of the day, I never understood why, I do now, even though I crave it sometimes.

I need to be up early like this, my mind is most clear and it's as quiet as the day will be. This morning I kept thinking about illusions and how quantum physics shows us that nothing is solid, that there is more empty space in between than there is anything else. I touched things like a stone Noah collected from our property in Oroville, the edge of Stevie's furry pink blanket, the one I took to the hospital with us. I touched the skin on the back of my hand to see if I could really touch and feel at the same time. It all felt very solid to me.

I closed my eyes and tried to release my need to believe that everything I could see with my eyes and touch with my fingers were "real" What if I let go and tried to see without my eyes and feel without my fingertips, what if I tried to "know" instead of "believe".

What I felt was the smooth sweep of memory where nothing is solid it is just the dancing of time, some of it exactly as it happened and some of it added to or subtracted from depending on how I wanted to remember it.

I tried to listen to music by remembering music and Jenny Lewis started singing "Handle me with Care". I tried to taste the seven cookies I ate yesterday and I easily remembered the butter and the crunchy sugar crystals. I remembered the way Noah's hair smelled yesterday while he was sleeping, the way the hot water felt in my bath last night and a hundred cold mornings that I sat on the porch crying as the last of Stevie's night candle burned.

What if this life we live moment by moment is a memory that plays in a loop? What if it has all happened before? What if we have long since left these bodies and this planet we created and we are accessing time? What if real isn't real at all? What if like memory we can shift and change parts so that they appear a little more pleasant or a lot more horrible than they actually were?

I thought about this for a moment and I decided to take a very hurtful moment and change it. I remembered a night in the hospital when I called Sarah and told her I was going to put Stevie in the car and leave, get us on a plane to someplace beautiful and run away from hospitals, cancer, tears and pain.

In the memory I had we stayed and she never got better. In the new memory I found a wheel chair and sat her in it. I told her what we were going to do and she gave me her most wicked smile. I disconnected her IV line but took the pole with us so the nurses wouldn't be suspicious. I put her slippers on her feet and covered her in a pink fuzzy blanket. I grabbed my purse and we headed down to the lobby. I used my cell phone to call a cab. I used my credit card at the airport to get us two tickets to Tahiti. At the gift shop I bought us sweatshirts, baseball caps and plenty of things to read.

The plane ride was long but we slept most of the time. We read the rest of the time and before we knew it we were landing in Popiette. The puddle jumper took us to the cluster of bungalow's that sit on the water.

I filled up the big claw foot with warm soapy water and let Stevie relax. We then climbed into the big bed under the thatched roof and ceiling fans and slept. No alarms, no machines, no lights and constantly opening doors, no bad news, just sleep.

The next morning we swam in the lagoon as the sun snuck up on us. The water was warm and turquoise blue. We laughed and laughed because we did it, we escaped. We needed to creep out of the water before everyone woke up because we were naked. We sat on the deck in fat towels wondering if it was too early to find breakfast.

We exchanged our sweatshirts for tourist clothing that we bought at the gift shops and we arrived at our breakfast destination wearing tank tops and sarongs. We flip-flopped to our table in new sandals that needed breaking in. Our hair was still wet but we pulled it back in pony tails.

Our days and nights were spent walking the beaches, swimming in the lagoons, eating, reading under the shade of big umbrella's while we drank fizzy water and blended fruit drinks. Soon time stopped, we forgot what day it was or long it had been since the time before.

It worked. The old memory was gone (well faded to another part of my brain) and this new memory had taken it's place. I could really see Stevie in a beach chair, a book on her lap, big sunglasses telling me that she was hungry and wanted to rent bikes and find someplace new for lunch. I was wearing a baseball cap and could feel the sunburn on my shoulders. I wanted to fall asleep for a little while but the idea of a bike ride sounded better, I got excited.

If you can see it in your mind, feel it in your heart isn't that real? Did I just change our life in some parallel universe. Did she die in a big bed over blue water instead of a stinky hospital connected to tubes and wires. I believe she did.

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