The Haunted Rooms, Olympia, 1988-89

After the aforementioned childhood images, which could have been dreams – certainly they follow in part the logic and the tone of dreams, though I have never remembered them in that context – and the two very clear, upfront and personal sightings of things that were obviously there, obviously in the sky and, moreover, were obviously not planes or clouds or even the Goodyear blimp (yes, thank you, I do know the difference) it seemed as if for a long time nothing else of this sort happened. Yet my years as an undergraduate and as a young adult were perforated through by certain images and irruptions of the stuff of meaning, of the supramundane. My mind and my character were far from cohesive. I was dissolute. I drank heavily and accomplished little, descended into a pervasive lassitude and depression. As a result, though drinking like this kind of held me together at the time and made life bearable, I now regret just about every moment of my lifetime between 18 and 22 – though less for my behavior while drunk than for the way the intensity of need (only partially met by drink) and sheer, chronic horrible feeling caused me to act towards others who were, for a short time, close to me.

During this period, there were a couple of events that stood out as especially odd. Now that I think of it, they both happened at the same rooming house where I lived for most of a year between 1988 and 1989. The house seemed to be haunted by a resentful ghost. The landlord, a middle-aged woman whose father had died suddenly and violently while building the house, had inherited it some twenty years previous to my living there. The building, a dismal and dark spot within an apparently otherwise normal suburb, had never been properly finished, though it had been inhabited for all this time by a variety of marginal characters, some of us students, many quite shady, most all of us desperate in one way or another.

On one late morning in the autumn – more likely by then approaching early afternoon –I was simply too lazy to get out of bed. After some hours of lying awake, I both felt and heard something explode inside of my skull. It was like a small bomb physically in my head that literally exploded. That did get me up; that got me out of bed fast. I was scared, and I felt certain then that someone or something had intervened, had set this thing off in me, as if to say, enough is enough. God only knows to what purpose. But it was time to get up and do something, though to my perspective there seemed little point to the day, and nothing worth the effort.

The next event from this period happened some months later. I’d moved into another room in the house, above the cold garage, to the expansive but unheated, uninsulated attic room where I spent the worst and most difficult winter of my young life. The springtime would soon be full of bad drama surrounding a downstairs neighbor, but that, I think, hadn’t happened yet. The room beneath mine was then still empty. The angry ghost would manifest at night, pounding on all four walls at once, or interrupting the power in measured intervals of three (the possibility that mischievous people might have been behind this certainly exists, but I couldn’t see why they would bother with such coordinated effort, in such numbers as these pranks would on occasion require). The event that followed may very well have been little or nothing at all: it only seemed to be some kind of skywriting, seen through a window. To see it, I would have been lying on the floor, looking out at the sky, but that isn’t so unusual. What was unusual was the oddly glyphic form of vapor arrangement that I saw. This was at least a decade before the issue of chemtrails became part of the public dialogue, and the utterly bizarre tic-tac-toe patters I’ve since seen photographed in the sky, as if daring those below to notice. This could have been a precursor to that particular form of jokesterism, whoever was behind it.

What I saw, made out of cloud, from my perspective, was a long horizontal line, out of which, attached at the base, was formed a small equilateral triangle, and in the very center of this was a single dot. These were very precise shapes, only starting to untangle and waft away, made out of, yes, clouds. I saw no aircraft make them, and I’d heard nothing – or at least hadn’t noticed, though this design hung at fairly low altitude. It’s hardly impossible that this wasn’t the work of somebody in a small airplane just practicing their craft. It just seemed outright mental at that level. But what did seem meaningful was that there was a communication of something very strange going on – at least I felt it to be so – and this, like so much, remains at the level of an uncertain liminality between the mundane and transcendent, the banality of obvious, stupid fact and the mystery of possible, deep otherness. These things, too, may be expressed by people and their activities. Perhaps what I speak of is less an external event than it is my own frustration with the seeming limits of first, myself, and secondarily, normality. I felt that quality of otherness to be expressed in the fact of communication through these unlikely shapes, though they, like much else, could very well have found their source in my own longing that it be so.