Thursday, September 11, 2014

Letter to Pittsburgh - an issue none of the papers or the local tv news folks will cover.



      ALCOSAN is about to spend 3 billion dollars.
      Of your money.
      If their plan to fix Pittsburgh's sewers and storm water overflow goes into action - and it will in December- your utility bills will go up by a factor of ten.
      For two decades.
      A working family of four will spend 8% of their monthly income on their utility bill.
      And that's the first part of the ALCOSAN plan.
      They could spend 2 billion more.
      Of your money.
      You can change their plan, alter it, slow it down, make it smarter. Because it's your money.
      The word "green" is thrown around a lot these days and frankly it's kind of exhausting. Plastic bottlers make smaller caps and talk about saving the world. Hotels call themselves green when they ask you not to use their towels when really what they're saving is laundry costs. Car companies are green when their car uses 10% electric, oil companies are green......well, because they pay their advertising agencies a lot of money to say so.
       ALCOSAN doesn't mess around. Their expertise is construction. Their solution is resolutely grey. It's made of concrete and steel. Tubes, tunnels and tanks which when finished will do nothing to change the fact that water gets into the sewers and rivers too fast. And in 50 years their concrete and steel will have to rebuilt, all over again. Just about the time our grandkids have finished paying the bill.
       But if ALCOSAN spent 1/5th, a 1/6th, even a tenth of their total budget (your money) on a preliminary green sewage solution, on stuff on the surface that costs less to build and employs people for years to maintain, then your utility costs would go up a Hell of a lot less than a factor of ten.
     And your town would have parks and trees and fewer floods and a municipal bidg that doesn't bleed electricity and maybe a public garden and a bike path all of which sounds like trinkets but which in truth will save you money. All of this physical stuff, trees along your creek, parking lots that absorb water, parks that act like filters for what would normally end up in your sewer or the river, all of this stuff adds up to mean less spent on a construction plan which was obsolete 30 years ago . Which will allow you to pay that extra tuition bill, which will let your family have a vacation that year rather than staying home, which will let you be part of a new Pittsburgh rather than a bystander.
     A lot's been said about a new Pittsburgh. How we're going to be the new Portland, the new Austin, the new hot town.
     We can build all the cafes, and farm to table restaurants, and artisanal bars, and condos we want and we'll be doing nothing but spreading ice cream over mud.
     10% of the population enjoying their new start up jobs and eating well while the sewers pollute the river, and bus routes are cut, and taxes ascend is not a new Pittsburgh.
      You rebuild the basic infrastructure of this city, you fix a problem that is damaging the economic opportunities of 80% of the people who live here - then you can call it a new Pittsburgh.
      And when I mean you, I mean us.
      I'm not asking you to tell PNC to change the shape of their new skyscraper. That's their money.  ALCOSAN is a public authority. Your bills pay for it. Your mayor, your county exec appoint its leaders.
      You tell them to change the plan, they'll change it.
      You don't, you'll pay. And pay, and pay. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pittsburgh Rarities I


    Call this a series about wealth. Rich places. In Pittsburgh, our city state. Places where people don't go much anymore.
    I won't pay attention to borders - Irwin and and New Ken are as Pittsburgh as Bloomfield- and I won't tell you where you can get a decent cup of coffee amid the hip urban decay. I won't try and sell you on the town because what I'm talking about is of course a spiritual wealth which you can't buy. Which might be the only thing that really makes Pittsburgh worth living in. 
    To quote a local writer, "If ever there was a place worth not leaving, it's here."
    To quote The Deer Hunter, "It's all here." 
    Hmm. 
    Frick Park. 
    Sure. Everybody goes there. Pretty much everyone in Pittsburgh knows where it is. Epicenter of the East End. Dog run of the creative class. Backyard of every cake-eater in the 14th ward. 
    If you think it's too obvious, a place overloaded with happy yin, it still has some brutal yang. Some original sin. 
    Here's where to find it. 
    Helen Clay Frick's buried on the highest ground in the Park. (Like I said - no borders- Homewood Cemetery's just Frick park with permanent residents). She died in 1984, probably from joy that Reagan got re-elected. She was 96. 
    Her dad, a large stone's throw away, died 65 years before and when he was buried next to his two infant children, he gave us the park and 50 years of class warfare in the Mon Valley. Helen gave us more of the park and a lot of art. 
    Pay your….respects?….and then walk North-west along millionaires' row, past  mausoleum after marble mausoleum, family after famous family - the Pitcairns, the Shaws, the Hays, the Lockharts -arrayed along a descending avenue just like they'd lived - tight up against each other in Gilded Age friction, clubbing, working, drinking and stealing each other's husbands and wives, a century before. 
    The last family pile you hit before crossing cemetery lane belongs to the Benedums. And they sit facing away from the rest of their monied gang, the steps to their front door stacked like a throne which looks out over a field of veterans buried in rows 50 feet below, and out over a right angle of steeply cantered grass bounded by the wrought iron fence of Kirtland street. On this slope of grass are scattered several small stones. "Beloved son". "Baby Grace".  "Our Child".
   This is Division 3 of Section 15. If you were buried in a "division" and not a section proper, you're in a separate grave, not a plot. Maybe you died young, before your family could plan for the future -which in this case really is the same for everyone- you couldn't afford more space, you didn't have the time, you were a tragedy or bad luck. You were put here and left alone. In this division, it's where people buried their infant children. There are about 300 bodies interred here. More than half of them infants. If you look down on the slope itself you'll see about 20 random graves. The rest of the dead are unmarked, under the grass. 
       If Pittsburgh is where people witnessed the wheels of history rise up out of the ground and grind with or against them and their daily efforts, then this is one of its scars. An unintentional trace left by conflicting needs, by supply and demand. Poor people lose more children. A cemetery needs to apportion its space. People remarry, grow old and don't always come back and put flowers next to a little tragedy common in its time. In the red ledgers of the cemetery, most of the 78,000 dead are given reasons why they died. Inscribed in the flawless handwriting of another age. One said, "Baby was too weak and faded away."
        When you leave you can walk right into Frick Park, passing by quick joggers headed back where you came from, and down a wide path onto the cool valley floor. 100 yards before the shadow of the Forbes bridge there's a small path which climbs up to the right. It stops at a slate outcropping which forms a rock lean-to. It might be where Gene Kelly used to go and hide and build himself a fire and which 70 years later he recalled to his young wife as the happiest times he knew. 



    It's also where you can grab a rope hanging from a branch 40 feet above - well secured and re-enforced over the years- and from which you can run and leap, twirling slowly, gliding out across tree tops and kudzu and a little hidden stream fed from the cemetery above.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Let's root for the home team

 
    I went to a Pirate game. Day game.  Sunday. Four seats, behind the on-deck circle about thirty rows back. Part of the park where the guys wipe the seats, where they know who should be there and whose tickets you borrowed.
  I had a capicolla sandwich, a beer and my phone in hand. Talking to three friends as the usher took us across. Knees bending, sorry, sorry, excuse me. These seats since you'd paid enough you were allowed to come in mid inning which surprised me, and it took me a couple seconds to realize I'd just missed a home run as I juggled my 50 dollars worth of "concessions" trying to pull a fiver out for the man who led us there. 
   All I could get hold of was a flattened pack of ones. Felt like more than five. I thought, I either make the man wait and count out his tip in front of 27,000 people or I just hand over the bills. The tickets were free, one of my guests had bought a round, Hell give the man his money, and hope you haven't  trapped a twenty in there.
  I palmed them to him, he nodded, and as the stadium sat down and the Pirate ran home I thought Christ …."concessions", like they're doing me a favor by feeding me as well. Entitlements for the sporting crowd. 
  We cheered, we clapped, we baked. We were entertained. 
   Baseball's been completely emasculated by its public soundtrack. No one does a thing if they aren't cued. No songs, no cheers, no calls come from the people to the players that aren't set up by corporate karaoke. 
   Not a moment's wasted on peace, on stillness, on the pauses within the game that make the game. Its insistence that This isn't the Working Day. There's no clock here. We are in the city but we are not of it. This is the field of grass within the concrete and the steel and the punch clock. You work. We play. You get to watch. For a few hours you're untethered. 
   If there's a redeeming quality to baseball it's its rhythm. Like a day at the beach, after 4 days you actually start to move differently. You think differently, in longer lines, in deeper troughs, you turn your head less, the check list falls out of your hands, the phone gets left on the floor with its charger. 
   But play the music, give each player a theme song and every play a downbeat and you bring the rhythm of the gym and of the office and the factory into the ball field. Where it should not be.
   The gift of baseball to America was Here's a colosseum, a temple really to the idea that you shouldn't always be working and planning, betting and scheming, parcelling out time like it was change. "Thus I wasted time and now does time waste me."
   And baseball came of age just as the great American cities were booming. Odd.  As we embraced steroid capitalism there was also a giant room in every city and town, a room open to the sky where when you walked thru the gates you shut them on the imperatives of business. 
   Not that the game wasn't a business, ha far from it, but the act of playing and the act of watching, both lived on here at their own pace. Side by side. The noise of commerce and conveyance fell away and you listened to the sounds of  leather, wood, and dirt slapping against each other to build a game. And the smell of all that grass even to the upper deck. 
   An inning later the usher came back around the corner and called out, "Where's the guy who gave me too much money?" 
   I looked at him, he recognized me and put the folded bills into my hand. 
   There were 11 ones. 
    11 dollars. 
    It's not like there'd been a twenty under a few singles, no, he came back to give me my 11 bucks. 
    I said thanks and gave back five. 
    And I thought, only in my town, only in mine. 
 
 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Golden Gate


  San Francisco approved a resolution recently to build suicide netting under the Golden Gate Bridge and eventually fencing across the face of the span. In other words when you walk the Gate you'll be looking thru a scrim of metal across one of the greatest vistas on the planet.
  Bullshit. Madness.
  Sound cold?
  It's not the Bridge's fault people kill themselves. It's not our job to redesign every monument, bridge, mountain top, rooftop, cliffside, and seaside to keep someone from killing themselves. They wanna do it they're gonna find a way.
  The world should not be disfigured, cut off and wrapped in netting, so we can make a nod toward these tragedies, because that's all it is, a nod, a gesture to liability, to not wanting to engage with larger problems, to tamping down the fury of broken hearted people while in reality we shuffle off the problem.
  They're crushed. Who wouldn't be? A son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a child took their life. Someone has to do something. Something has to change. Someone should pay.
  Problem is what that boils down to is as long as anything is changed it's considered something, some good. One platform for suicide is gone.
 Are you kidding? A distraught, deeply depressed person is not going to find another? A fence on a bridge will make them whole again? That's how we do good?
   Nonsense. Childishness.
   "The Bridge of Death" they called it.  What? Is the bridge somehow evil in its design? It entices people to kill themselves? It's Charybdis? It's a witch and one can tell by the cast of its face that it harbors the devil? No sorry, it's just a bridge, made by hand, by thousands and thousands of desperate men and women, during the depression who by dint of their labor created one of the most astounding objects humans have ever imagined.
  And now we get to see thru a fence what they gave us. Inspiration, beauty, strength, astonishment, fear, awe, all of it, covered in netting to put a salve on the horror those who lost someone feel and on the guilt some of us project outwardly from the heart and mind, those parts of us that are truly responsible for all this misery.
  For it is in our stars that the "guilt" lies. It's in us. Not in bridges or rooftops or rafters or in a medicine cabinet. It's in us. And build fences where you may, around the roof of every skyscraper in the country, erase the views, the experiences, which have inspired and comforted generations of people, deny access to the rougher edges of what God built, sue every single person who owned a piece of someplace your beloved died and you'll have accomplished nothing but a kind of institutional vengeance weaker than oaths into the wind.
  The issue here isn't how do we stop them. Fences won't do that. This isn't a question of a view being more important than a person's life. Erasing that view won't save them.
  The heart of all this is silence.
  Because the real horror of death, of suicide in particular, is its silence. Its emptiness. The lack of response. They do not move anymore. They do not speak when spoken to. They won't tell you why.
  That's what's unbearable. But ultimately it's what must be borne.
  You can't reach in after them and make it better. Wrecking the house won't bring them back.
  Perversely, one place you might find an answer, where you might find salve for your broken heart is someplace like that odd orange bridge in the fog, any given morning, 200 feet above the water, as the sun rises. A place like that, or a cliffside in the Grand Canyon, or leaning by the short little railing which is all that stands between you and anyone and the soul shaking beauty of the Niagara, a beauty which stands hand in hand with oblivion. Places like that, left to themselves and you, might bring you peace. They've certainly talked me off the edge.
 Maybe that's what's so hard to bear - the fact that the void you relish and the void you throw yourself into are the same thing. Pretending it's not won't change a thing. Being alive is messed up, we are not simple, simple acts of violence won't fix a thing.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Normandy

  
      This was printed in the Pgh Post Gazette last week- for those of you who don't subscribe or live in Pgh - I offer it up. 
    Used the "number of steps" thing again. Ah well. Themes, motifs…





  Ten years ago I was running around London going to see a play or two a night and chasing a girl I'd chased ten years before and buying bespoke shirts for 100 pounds apiece made by some guy named Oswald Boateng. Now who wouldn't want to buy something from Oswald Boateng, a name dripping with cool.
     I had discovered the Brits could outdrink the Russians. I confirmed this truth every afternoon at about 5 pm. I walked 6 hours a day. I was unemployed.
     I was, in short, acting like an idiot.
     And then I saw what day it was.
     June 4th.
     I hopped on a train to Paris. Crossed Paris by Metro from the Gare D'something to the Gare D'something else, grabbed another train to Rennes, rented a car which is surprisingly easy to do in another country, and drove to Bayeux where I slept in the massive attic of a Monastery turned Hostel surrounded by 60 snoring Germans.
     I mean I tried to sleep.
     Didn't happen.
     I swore at them, I cursed, I felt like it was okay because they were Germans and then I gave up and at 4:30 in the morning drove toward the Atlantic shore.
     I parked in an empty lot beside a small chapel surrounded by gnarled trees and hedges and then wandered down a hedgerowed lane which led me to the beach.
     The sun had risen, a few joggers went by, a french guy walking his french dog smiled at me and nodded. " Good morning," he said in English.
     That pretty much told me, today was not gonna be a normal day.
     I said Good morning to him in French and then looked up- from one side of the ocean horizon to the other grey shapes stood on the water. Carriers, cruisers, a battleship, scores of war boats in a line, waiting.
     Now I knew today was not gonna be like any other.
     Turns out I'd parked right beside the St Mere Eglise chapel and now I was staring back at the American flag flying over the cemetery of the same name. Dumb luck. Thank the Germans.
     It's 683 steps from where the surf ends, where you get your feet wet, to the first thing you could call cover.
     I walked it at about the same time the soldiers did 60 years before. Around 6:30 in the morning. A few more joggers crossed my path. I looked to the left and saw some comfortable homes built into the sea side hills. Happy upper middle class life in the 21st century.
     And I thought to myself, God in heaven there's no way in Hell I could have made my feet move across this nightmare of open space 6 decades before.
     Simply no bloody way.
     It screams kill zone. It must have been made for the machine gunners on the hill in front of you. A runway right into their sights.
     And yet.....
      For some reason the guard at the back of the cemetery where 4 presidents were about to meet and speak let me in. Looked me right in the eye and opened the gate. I didn't have a pass, I didn't have an 80 year old man by my side. I joined the procession of soldiers and ex-soldiers and their families. Some smiled at me and nodded, I smiled and nodded back. A full bar Captain led me to a row where I could stand with a full view of the cemetery. "Thanks for coming," he said.
    And that's when I figured it out. They thought I was an actor. Well, I was an actor but they thought I was a different one. And not even a famous actor or a particular actor. I was simply, possibly just one of the guys who'd been in " Band of Brothers" or "Saving Private Ryan" and that was enough for them.
     It didn't really matter that I was not one of the guys in Band of Brothers or Private Ryan. I was a symbol of what these old men had been. I was the face this decade had put on their myths and memories. I was "one of them." What they looked like, what they must have sounded like when they were young and alive in 1944.
    And this completely blew me away. Freaked me out. First off because I didn't deserve it period and secondly because it made complete sense.
    "If only we could see them move again...hear their voices......tell their stories and then see the story become life once more......"
     And how amazing that it never quite works but again and again and again we try. We never stop. Go to Gettysburg. Go to Agincourt.
     That was ten years ago. I'm sitting in my not yet unpacked new apt in Pittsburgh listening to the BBC play out a ceremony happening 3000 miles away. A decade ago I stood with the men who stormed Normandy beach. I listened to our President promise "for our friends, we'd do it again", I watched both, together and without regard to rank file away thru the gates. Children left among the graves to play and wander. I wandered among french homes with their windows open to the evening cool as families from both sides of the channel broke bread and smiled and emptied bottle after bottle once more.
     I went back down to the beach. The sun was almost gone, the surf farther away, the joggers kept coming and I thought, Life never quits, does it? It keeps coming at you come war or come boredom, come the birth of a child or the daily commute, it pounds away at you until you're history. Within 100 yards of me in either direction 3000 guys had died 60 years ago. Not even close to what the Russians lost daily for a year in WWII, not even close to Cold Harbor in our Civil War but numbers counted in places like this are a kind of obscenity. Sometimes, you shouldn't try to add up what you know.
  They fought. They walked, they ran, into those guns.

  In an age of endemic hyperbole - "Godlike dark roast, Greatest Dub step in History, Possibly the finest remake of Spiderman yet!!"  I think it's fair now to say they actually saved a civilization. 
  We must, until we are the ninety somethings, doddering in a defiant row, fight to tell their tales. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day

  I had dinner alone in a swank restaurant in the basement of a hotel built in 1850 in Milford PA last week. Guy who built it started Delmonicos in NYC before the Civil War. Bartender went to find me a copy of the Times - "Look no offense but I just can't watch you read off your phone, man"- but they'd thrown it out so he grabbed the local weekly. "I mean if we're gonna talk and all." I agreed. He was a Mets fan, from Brooklyn, if you couldn't tell. 
  Things I learned reading the Pike County Register over some fine spiced kale and a decent ribeye.
  Did you know Norway used to be run by Sweden? Till like 1910.
  Did you know their used to be 4 billion chestnut trees up and down the Appalachian corridor? Then came the fungus.
  Did you know:
  It's 60 minutes from Milford to the nearest hospital with a maternity ward. A local author gave birth halfway along the ride. "I'd like to thank the good officers of the Jersey State patrol for helping my husband and I as we waited to deliver the placenta."
  French Huguenots settled along the upper Delaware in the early 18th century. There's a red brick church in…umm "Huguenot" NY….. that their descendants are trying to save. A good number of them are catholic.
   Did you know the Delaware Water Gap was gonna be an inland sea- dammed up for the tap water benefit of Philly and NYC- until they realized the place they'd picked for the dam would have failed. So the Fed did an about face to save face and said it was supposed to be a national park all along.
  JFK signed the law. At a house about 3 miles from my barstool. Grey Towers. I went up the next day to see the place and talked to the gardener for 20 minutes, which was far more informative than the tour. He was 14 when Kennedy got up to speak, happy simply to be out of school, "He landed right over there on the big lawn. Spoke right here in front of the records building. Under the Copper Elms…..and then, who knew, they shot him a couple weeks later…"
   I didn't ask but when he went on less about the great home of Gifford Pinchot founder of the National Forestry Service and more about what a tragedy LBJ was, I did the math. 14 in 1963. 18 in 1967. Small town. Not much for the books. Vietnam. 
  Rich was his name. Lanky, sunbaked, happy to be the care taker of the mansion he'd watched fall apart as a boy, playing in its ruins. "We put 30 million into it, bought back 400 acres, used local materials again and local people just like Pinchot's dad did way back. It's a rock."
   I liked that when he said "we" he meant the Federal Government.
   He walked me thru the forest Pinchot had planted - "By God I do wish I could return in a hundred years and see my trees.", the old man had famously said - at least that's what Rich said- but as we climbed thru the Pines and the Elms and the Maples and Cherry trees 4 feet in diameter, I thought about all the times I've gone hiking back East in the parks and state game lands of my youth and how you realize it was all clear cut, was all scoured fields and mountainsides of nothing for so long until guys like Pinchot pounded it into people's heads that if you erase the forests you'll drown the towns and destroy your farms and end up in a wet desert.
  Look at photos from the Civil War, look at panorama shots on the opening days of the great museums and libraries of the Progressive age, and what you might notice is the things stand in barren ground.
    There were no trees. We'd cut them all down. We mowed Pennsylvania. What you walk thru now unless you're deep, deep in the woods is third and fourth growth replanting, or random species that have blown in and can live on nothing.
  "I think this place is still here cause the Kennedys have a soft spot for it….doesn't make much sense otherwise. Must be earmarked every year."
   I had to agree that a multimillion dollar pile of stone in honor of a conservationist of wood didn't make much sense but I was glad it gave him a job.
   Rich waved me off, "Next time park in the lower lot, there's shade in that corner." And I drove 5 hours on back roads to Gettysburg, and it felt like I'd crossed a continent. From the gouged out valleys of the Lehigh and the northern Appalachians to the God blessed open fields of Lancaster. It's like going from the Balkans to the English Home Counties. From West Virginia to Iowa. You get some tiny glimmer of how people once measured distance. And how they were marked, molded, and dyed by the land they lived in. What they called their homeland, where they were from as opposed to that oh so different place on the other side of the mountains. Land we can hop across, to and from now in hours.
  I drove through a massive storm, clouds practically reaching down to scrape Pottsville and Lebanon off the PA map, trucks swerving in the wash, folks parked under the overpasses with the hazards on, but when I got to the battlefield the skies softened, went from bruise black to grey, and held. I had to laugh. It was just what you'd imagine. Rain plastering the windshield as I parked. I reached for my raincoat, opened the door and …..nothing but wind.
  And there was nobody there.
  Stones and statues dripping. Handful of intrepid school kids from Missouri, one in a wheelchair they couldn't push across the muddied field of Pickett's charge. The open farm land they say Lee looked across and said "Here. It will be here."
  And was it ever.
  Did you know at a steady walk it takes 15 minutes to cross the fields from the Confederate line to the Union angle. It's almost exactly 1300 steps. 1297 on my count. Though I imagine the last quarter of those, for the handful that made it, were at a dead run, so divide the last 400 by 4, and you get the feel for every step taken by those men across the grass.
  "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here…."

 




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stateside

 
  A trip winds down and the exhaustion rolls you up. InterContinental lactic acid. The inland sea of your self you pushed away at take-off comes sloshing back and swamps you. You on you. One trying to stay afloat on the back of the other.
  The basic reason to travel. To escape yourself. And then find yourself. To run him fast or far enough thru streets he doesn't know until he's silent, uncomplaining, forgotten. 
  But then inevitably the platonic umbilical cord will snap you and him back into place. 
  And by that time he's sick and tired and scared and wants to go home. And you have to take him home. It's part of the deal. And you were just getting used to it. 
  What's the movie? The Abyss? The rescue divers breathe liquid oxygen. They go into shock at the first breath but then it's bliss. You breathe under water.
  Kind of like traveling. You breathe new air. You live in a different world where the mundane; a street sign, a light switch, the name of the ground floor, a bag of chips, every single person's voice, has magic strangeness to it.
  And then comes the scene when the diver has to surface and breathe regular air. Not so nice. Not so laden with bliss.
   It's said often in various mediocre ways-  "All travelers see what they want to see in a place, not what's truly there." Which I think is nonsense. As if there's a neutral way to see anything on this earth. Why the Hell would we even speak, the species turn grunts into phonemes if not to say to the next poor hairless ape, "oh you should see this place ...because...." Puritan bullshit always always ringing in our American ears and telling us not to listen, not to trust what's being told, what's right in front of us, you're flawed from the get go. 
  And now I'm back to my Scots-Irish island in America. Pittsburgh. And I felt for the first few days recast. My vision polished. People here, the same people I left seem to live with their teeth in this town, in their lives. They chew on it. On each other. For better and worse. And really can you have the one without the pain of the other? Truly? 
  You walk into the ring you're gonna take a punch. 
  The men blare their accents across each other in the bar, the women whatever their age with the same eyes they had at 17. We got lucky in Pittsburgh. Severe Scots came and built the place and then the Slavs and the Italians and the Greeks rebuilt it and made it worth living in. 
  And for a few days.. while I was waking up at 3:30 in the morning... forgetting where I was... which bed, which hotel, which town....the clouds here seemed lit by the land itself - which had exploded into spring green and thickness and life while I was gone. They moved across a sky bluer than I thought possible in a land locked town. 
  For a few days, the Irish changeling weather came back with me. The hourly miracles of a place that made me think this is what kids must see when they first realize they see it: a storm, a rainbow, the sun. 
  And then my frightened self arrived - those platonic others never do go by air do they- and I slept a good eight hours and I woke up at the appropriate time and remembered where and who I told myself I was.