There were teams, and I was on one of them. Nobody in the scavenger hunt were originally from the planet we were on. We weren’t scavenging for stuff, it was for clues to some puzzle. But the puzzle wasn’t just some made up game, we were really supposed to figure something out that would help people everywhere.
This clue was in a ruined mansion near a lake. It was night. Everything was dirty and grubby inside and it smelled woody and earthen. The wooden fixtures were getting eaten by termites and decomposing into dirt. The lighting was bad, maybe there were candles, and we had flashlights. On the second floor there was a Vandercook cylinder press under a dusty tarp in one room. Other teams were racing past. We lifted up the tarp– other people had been there before us– and I started to read the clue spelled out in the type. There was one interpretation of the clue that the words seemed to suggest. but I could tell there was a trick there: I could see that there was some arrangement of other letters, mostly “C”s near the bottom that, along with the words, made some kind of design, but it was hard to see. I realized I should just go to my printing studio and get some ink and actually run the press and we would see something the other teams hadn’t seen.
I ran outside to get on my bike to go to my studio (which was still in Somerville, which apparently was on this planet). It was dawn outside, and hilly, and it smelled like Pennsylvania, and I think it was.
Speaking of Facebook, I just roundaboutly got found by a really good friend who I knew when I was in high school, who I sort of thought I’d never hear from again. I guess maybe that’s not quite true, we always seemed to run into each other at unlikely times and places. So I sort of thought we would just run into each other walking down the street in Boston or in an airport in DC or something. Back in the day, we lived maybe an hour and a half away from each other and went to different high schools, but we always seemed to run into each other in the city in the least likely places at the least likely times. Like the time that my friend Greg and I went into Pittsburgh to see a play; we saw her walking down the street on the way there, and she came with us. Meeting up was often that haphazard, but we were pretty close, we had long phone conversations and I think we went to her homecoming dance together as a pretext to go the the Rocky Horror Picture Show afterward.
Anyway, the last time I saw her was just after college in the weeks before I moved to Boston and she moved to DC, when we drank Mickey’s Big Mouths on her parents’ porch late into the night, and talked about Big Life Transitions and such. After that, we maybe emailed a couple of times. And then even the occasional “I’m still alive” messages stopped maybe five years ago. While I said earlier that I always thought we’d run into each other again, in truth, I’ve been a little concerned about the silence.
I am definitely a little surprised at some of the facts I’ve been able to pick up. But it’s good; she looks happy. Anyway, I’m very curious to see if she’ll actually get in touch with me again; I really hope so, but I’m also just glad to know she’s still out there.
I guess this kind of thing is not that noteworthy; I find people and people find me all the time. I just am really happy about this one.
Decent Slate piece on space imagery in African American pop, from Sun Ra to Lil Wayne. Could be expanded to be a whole thesis!