Wednesday, July 11, 2012

They Call Me Ishmael

If you have seen Heart of Darkness, the documentary of the making of Apocalypse Now, then you may remember the unnerving scene with Martin Sheen. He has a complete, screaming, mental breakdown, naked and bloody, in a seedy motel room in the middle of a humid and violent foreign country.  I never connected with that scene until yesterday.

The day had been long - we had not had air in the house for two days, and the heat beat down on me as I struggled to work at my computer.  A chatty repairman stopped by and claimed he fixed the upstairs AC unit, but after a few hours, that was proven to be false.

As the day wore on, my body lost all of its fluid and my brain started turning to darker thoughts.  I couldn't focus or complete a task.  Wine tasted like bath water and sweated out of me before it could take effect.  And then the clouds gathered.

It was an ominous summer storm, one that you can smell in the air, musty and evil.  The sky grew dark with anger and the thunder rolled, heralding a judgement on humanity.  Lightning cracked against the house like a woman scorned.  I was alone with my children - my husband was on a mission in our nation's capitol, trapped on an airplane that could not fly in such a monsoon.  The phone rang and a neighbor child, scared and also alone, left the shelter of her home with her shih tzu and joined us on our sinking vessel.

I scraped together a meal as the winds raged outside.  I opened the doors, oblivious to the danger, in hopes that the hurricane winds would provide just a moment's relief.  Again the phone rings - this time it's my husband:

Him: "Well, we're just sitting here on the plane, and they think we may take off soon, but they won't know for awhile so we're just hanging out."
Me: "I don't have time for this.  We have to get out of here.  It's so hot, too hot ..."
Him: "I know, I know."
Me: "You don't know.  You haven't lived through this.  I've got to save the children."
Him: "OK.  Just go in the basement."

No, it was too late for that.  I went upstairs to give the abandon ship call, when I felt a drip on my head.  Water was coming from the ceiling and covering the floor.  We had sprung a leak.  With swift feet and fearful heart, I bounded up the attic stairs to a dreadful scene.  Water, water everywhere.  I ran for towels and began sopping up the mess, desperately hoping to plug the holes.  I cried out to the children: "More towels!  A bucket!"  They came running with supplies, and we formed a line of hope across the house. 

Then the moment of truth.  "Turn it on.  Try the AC now."  And with a clink, clink, clink that sounded like an angel's song, the AC churned back to life.  Water continued to run, but I didn't care.  We would not die this day.

I kept the boat afloat until my husband returned home well past midnight.  His had been the last plane out.  As he began investigating the damage, I fell asleep with dreams of the ocean.

This morning, he woke me with news of a solution. 

Him: "I have fixed it" he said.  "I have run tubing out of the unit, so the water can drain.  I just need you to do one thing for me."
Me: "Anything.  What is it?"
Him: "I need you to regularly suck on the hose."


Martin, I get it now.

It is amazing what one will do in dire circumstances. I have just been immersed in the book, State of Wonder, which tells the story of a doctor in the rain forest who goes native and starts gnawing bark off a tree.  Given my frame of mind and the primal nature of my existence at this moment, I didn't question the directive to suck on a hose. 

The hose on which I have been sucking.
The water I suck out then drains into the bucket. 
And yes, this is my closet.

I do not like sucking on the hose.  The water tastes bad and I feel like a baby pig being nursed by a fake teat.  My husband is going to have to suck his own damn hose when he gets home, or else I'm voting him off the island.

Until next time, keep crowin' and never doubt your inner warrior!

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