GUIDE IN THE RUINS
Dreamed 1996/11/20 by Chris Wayan
After World War Two, I was stationed in a former Nazi factory town, a port on the Baltic coast, called Liu-n-l-ti-... well I forget exactly, because the bombing had not only ruined the place but brought down half the letters from the big sign at the factory entrance.
Now, decades later, I come back to Lui--. A Russian guide shows me round. The place is a sad and empty ruin. The Soviets occupied it and one visionary got it running through heroic effort, but it never could compete internationally, and it finally died a few years ago. The man who nursed it is buried here, and it's thought of locally as a monument to his dream. My guide shows me his grave--in a trash-filled hangar, one of many onsite.
My guide says "I often sense his spirit around the place."
I ask "doesn't he want this cleaned up?"
"I doubt he'd curse you for fixing things, but he seems content to have it as a tomb."
It's such a grim ruin--particularly eerie, since my guide is very beautiful and I have a huge crush on her. I'm too shy to tell her... but as long as she's just admitted she senses ghosts, I say "I had a dream where I was lost on a world just like this--huge warehouses filled with scrap iron, lumber, old clothes. They ruined their whole world, covered it with factories and industry, then died. It was so sad..."
So she leads me away to the halls of post-Soviet Russia. Shabby, crowded, but warm and full of people passionately arguing where to go from here.
Such hidden energy! I'm overwhelmed with joy, and burst out "And people in America think Russia is drifting, worse after Communism! They say places like this are ruins, just because they don't look like shopping malls! They haven't looked beyond the junk. This is beautiful--alive!"
My guide answers, matter of factly, "YOU are very beautiful."
I freeze, unsure I heard her right. Was she talking to someone behind me? How could she be attracted to shabby old me? As the obvious analogy sinks in, my hope grows, and I realize I won't be returning to the States for a while.
Unless I'm with her.
NOTES ON WAKING
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