Sunday, June 17, 2007

something strange

Throughout my life I've been occasionally touched by good luck and interesting synchronicities. For example, on our vacation to Old Europe, our chance stumbling upon the temple of the great Rabbi Low, as well as a falconer's wife who brought us to meet her husband and see his breeding project.

About four years ago I finished writing a novel. I'd written it in various forms over the course of 12 years, but the final version was completed four years ago. In it, the protagonist is lying in a coma but in his dreams is living in another world. In it he has no need for food or drink, it has superficial delights, it's peaceful, but it is a closed loop from which he cannot escape.

In the real world, he's in a hospital in San Francisco, in a room with a slightly cheesy landscape mural and a stellar view of the Marin Headlands.

The mate's room at CPMC has a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Headlands are just beyond it. While she was there, I even remarked on its similarity to the room in my story. (When I wrote it, I didn't know there was a hospital there at all; I had placed mine further down the hill, in the Marina district.) It was formerly the maternity ward, and the walls were painted peachy-pink: presumably a nesting color to encourage new mothers. Down in the basement there are two landscape murals, one in emergency's ambulance park, the other in the loading dock. They're a little bit cheesy but mostly charming: classic California mountains, redwood forests, lots of birds (including hawks), and little emergency vehicles trekking through it.

It didn't occur to me until this moment just how weird this is.

At the end of the novel, in his dream world, the protagonist decides that the only way to break out of the loop is death. He knows nothing of his situation in real life; he believes himself dead and only wants freedom from what is pleasant but still a prison. The chapter ends with him throwing himself off a cliff. And in the final chapter, his girlfriend receives a phone call from the hospital: he is conscious.

And my girlfriend, I hope, has come to in a better world, free from her own prison.

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