An afternoon nap led to a strange dream. I was in someone’s house, cooking spicy spareribs. I’ve never been in that kitchen before, but I seemed familiar with it, it looked like a combination of all the kitchens in all the houses I’ve lived in through the years.
The spareribs were done, and I was sitting on the counter with the laptop typing away, when my ex suddenly came in. Don’t ask which ex, I’m not telling. He went straight to the pan of spareribs on the stove, lifting the lid and sniffing with his eyes closed. Then he turns to me and says’ “Why are you not sharing this with me?” I was silent. He glares at me, then pouts. He goes to the counter, takes out a plate and a fork and helps himself to the spareribs. In between bites he keeps muttering, “It’s so good, so good!”
This is when I woke up from the dream, disoriented to find myself in bed instead of the kitchen. It felt strangely erotic. And now I am hungry.
When I arrived here, a place I have never been, the mountains still had snow. Capped in white, they rose like a jagged wall above a horizon that unfolded into rough, monotonous terrain; a land of dust and dryness. Everything seemed beige, brown, gray. It was a world in camouflage, a place that was in perpetual hiding.
It drizzled the afternoon that I arrived; something, they said, that has not happened for weeks. I was walked by Security down a concrete path that connected several rectangular buildings. Every one of them looked exactly the same from the outside. We went into one building, and I was given a room there. A box within a box.
In one of the scant briefings for this gig, I was told to pack for a week, to bring sturdy hiking shoes, the bare minimum of luxuries. I packed just two books. I should have brought more.
I was issued army-style clothes, shoes, a flashlight, a vest, and a helmet. The helmet was a heavy thing. When turned over, it looked like a turtle—all quiet and unmoving—blending right in. Me thinks I should do the same.