Woke up from this dream..
As twilight descends on an azure mid-western city, (I believe it might be Columbus, Ohio), a grand blue light billows across the streetscape, causing the crowds to pause and wonder with a low collective groan of approval. It’s a cathedral-sized observatory, several stories high, and the blue light is radiating from inside the dome’s opening shutters. The workings of a great bronze telescope rattle into position, as the arced shutter light revolves across the city . No one can stop taking pictures of the soft sapphire light, the brass gears, and the baroque, decorative globes and compasses mounted inside the structure. It’s clearly some sort of civic show business. The city fathers are saying, “welcome to the eye at the middle of the continent.”
The city feels clean and redeemed, with thousands of cafes and bookstores. The cafes all have ornate, mahogany band boxes where fraternities of brass and wind players tune up for the evening’s music. As the observatory light announced itself, I took pictures from inside an antiques gallery across the street, interrupting a couple buying a fern of some sort. They understood the need for the interruption. The spectacle of the thing demanded photography. I see Mary at an intersection, in Georgia’s car, and she waves. I try to stop them, but Georgia doesn’t hear me and, later, I’m in trouble for muttering something audible into my cell phone about it. After all, we haven’t yet purchased the four heads of butter lettuce we will make into a salad over at Genevieve’s Boudoir, a grand pavilion of a restaurant with two-story colonnades and granite elephant heads, draped with parquet silk head-coverings. Mary’s friends have purchased for her, and are hiding, presents. They are hiding a decoration they are making, composed of deep green holly and Victorian lace. I try to distract Mary with some shopping, and then I find myself at a newly restored, early 20th century baseball stadium, where you gain admission and find your place, by virtue of a baseball hat with your seat number embroidered on the cap. It’s the most elegant baseball game I’ve ever attended, and apparently I’m sitting in front of the new club owners, who are amused by opening-night embroidery problems.
The city shifts between grand dining concourses and college campus commons. I have been given a new key to my Kairos dorm room and I find relief in knowing the key is still in my waistcoat pocket. The waistcoat, 18th century style, seems to be a kind of academic robe, and I settle into it, but we are short of sixteen ounce cups and I need one for the cider I will take on my five mile walk. Our colonial kitchen is positively bustling in my difficult search for cups and cider. A girl I knew in first grade is trying to cool a cake she is baking in our oven, by blowing on it. I joke with her, continue on to Kairos, past a very narrow chapel, made of brick. I’m having trouble remembering the name of the Presbyterian sect no longer meeting in this building and I make sure to tell a family appreciating it how serpentine the courtyards are around the chapel. “You almost can’t find your way out,” I tell them.
The city has a churning, wide, turquoise river, with grand steam vessels and sail boats traversing it. In the middle of a dinner meeting one of the young musicians breaks off from conversation, as though in the grip of a grand theory he later confirms by sailing down this river and shooting harpoons, harmlessly, fantastically, into the prairie night sky. The whole city appears to be a republic of brass band city-states, with boyish jazz clubs of the June Allyson and Peter Lawford era. They speak to each other with steam-punk, wind up radios, and one of them encourages another with a compliment everyone seems to understand, “you beat that clipper down the river with an Asian sail.”
It felt like an endless, pleasant maze of marble staircases and I was happy to wander.