Perhaps the relevant truth… is that we all find ourselves in temporal currents and that unless you’re paying attention you’ll discover, often too late, that a undertow of weeks or of years has pulled you deep into trouble.
– Joseph O’Neill, Netherland
Last night I dreamed I was at home — I didn’t recognize it, but it was home — and listening to a hard rain beating down on the roof and walls. I opened a window and leaned out to see what sort of materials were keeping out the rain. The walls had been stuccoed, but gaping holes in the stucco exposed rusty metal rods. I couldn’t figure out why the house hadn’t yet leaked, but I knew it was on the verge of collapse.
A buzzer rang. I opened the front door and there was Tommy, my neighbor, a solitary eccentric who went missing in January and was found dead in his armchair a month later when the cops broke into his house. I reminded Tommy of this fact and he said, “That’s OK, it’s almost Easter.”
He told me to abandon my house before it collapsed. But first I had to find the others, so I slammed the door on him and searched every room. The others, it seemed, had left. I’d better leave, too, I knew, but I was hungry and went to the refrigerator to fetch a brick of cheese. The cheese was smaller than cheeses I’d bought before, and I realized the Kraft company had cheated me by charging the same high price for a new, smaller portion.
Livid, I decided to take the cheese back to the supermarket. First I wrote a letter to the store manager about the good old days, when cheese was affordable. I was putting on my raincoat when the walls caved in and a big wave rolled over me and I woke up treading water, as usual.