Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Minor Details

I find myself dwelling tonight on the minor details of memory. Instead of sleep, I recall the bench where, each morning, I come with the dog. She likes to sit here, and does not seem to mind my company. The benches here at that hour are generally wet with dew and/or the spray of the sprinklers. We sit here, sometimes for up to thirty minutes, and occasionally watch the fog sneak above and below, and sometimes between the highest and lowest points of, the nearby bridge that connects Oakland to Alameda.

If a cloud can be construed to appear vaguely as something lifelike--a cat eating a dog bone, a dog with a boner, or a man peeing onto a leaf--then fog is a bit like its Golemesque cousin. Its lifelike qualities are more than appearance. It feels organic in a way that we would probably not allow other atmospheric phenomenon. Fog seems in a way closer to being "real"--or, at the very least, hiding something real.

In popular imagination, fog is the precursor to doom that clouds rarely are, despite the fact clouds are far more likely to bring destruction. Maybe this is because of fog's immediacy, its closeness, the fact that we can sometimes touch fog and shudder at the ghostly fingers we imagine on the verge of meeting ours.

Not long ago, I found what fog is hiding. I took a long drive along the northern California and Oregon coast. At some point, I forget where, I encountered a beach unlike one I'd ever encountered. The sand was littered with death: driftwood, vacated shells, dried seaweed, and the trunk of a tree. The ocean was situated behind a smoky layer of coastal fog, peeking through occasionally, and then hiding again as though a shy child. It all smelled and sounded like a beach, but it looked as though the staging of the apocalypse.

If in fact history did end there that day, inside the fog, and everything beyond it been a hellish nightmare, much would be explained.