Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Groping for Answers

[The subsidized apartment building I live in is called The Union Hotel. It's run by DESC, Seattle's Downtown Emergency Service Center. All the residents have been homeless. I write a column for the monthly building newsletter. The column is called Out of My Mind. I'm posting them here, properly dated, because I can. -- wes]

I am fascinated by the Universe and Space and Time. I call myself a space-time cadet. I am alert to news about the space-time continuum and its disturbances.

For example scientists have recently learned that there is more deuterium in our galaxy than expected. Deuterium is that freakishly heavy hydrogen used to make H-bombs. Finding too much deuterium in space is like coming home and finding six large pizzas when you hadn’t ordered one. You never called a pizza place, you never saw a deliveryman, and nobody else has a key to your room. Or do they?

Or take this afternoon. Adam, who works at Real Change, said, “Thanks, Wes.” I said, “What are you thanking me for? I didn’t do anything.” And Adam said, “Oh.” Then, as if that wasn’t enough of a disturbance in space-time, I said to Adam, “What are you planning to do, move to New Zealand and never return? So that you have to wrap up all your personal affairs by thanking everybody you know whether they deserve it or not?” Then just ten minutes later I found out the front office had a fifty-pound donated box of New Zealand apples! Coincidence? Or rift in the space-time continuum?

Last month I was living my life in all the normal ways I always live it – I did nothing at all different from usual! I went to all the same meetings, watched all the same TV, read only the newspapers I always read and none of the newspapers I never read. I watered Spartacus, the house plant pet I keep at my window, exactly as often and as much as I always water him, not watering more, not less, not more often, not less often. His long tendrilish stems as always groped gently upward, thrusting tenderly but firmly into my books, exploring their secret closed pages.

Until, one Friday, I came in and found his long tendrilish stems sagging! Sagging to the floor! “Poor Spartacus,” I thought, “what has become of you? What strange disturbance of space-time has done this to you?”

The following week I had the answer: The painters had raised my window an inch from the outside to better paint, moving Spartacus by accident.

Thank you painters. Thank you Union Hotel for keeping me informed, eventually.