Tuesday, January 13, 2015

9: Alan meets Carla


Late the next morning, while out walking the deck, Alan looked up to see the the singer from last night waving at him. She was on the boat deck, one flight up. He waved back, then climbed up the stairway to meet her. "Hi, I'm Carla," she said and held out her hand. He shook it, and finally held her gaze, as he was reminded to do a few times by Michelle (and his counselor) back in Michigan City. "Well, um, pleased to meet you. I'm Alan," he told her. "And I'm wondering if we have met before. I mean, am I someone you've seen before?"  

"Well, that's why I wanted to say hello, Alan. I saw you while I was singing last night, with a feeling that you were someone. I mean, someone I might know, or that I should know... You seem somehow like family or something." Alan looked at her and felt that this was getting strange...but he too felt a connection, a faint memory, a recognition of some sort. Then they both relaxed a little, and looked out at the ocean from the railing.

After a few minutes, Alan said, "My family is from California, in the USA, and I've been living in a town called Michigan City, in Indiana, in the American Midwest, for the last several years. Um, does that mean anything to you?" 

"No."

"Okay, well, I was really just hanging on there, making drawings and wondering what I'll do next...you know? Then I got this letter from someone named Margaret Mullen, Dept. of Tourism, Commonwealth of New Island, about illustrating a tourism guidebook. They offered me a ticket, at least one way, lodging, and a weekly stipend, so I said I'd do it! I'll get a return ticket when my job is done, I think."  

"Wow, a paid-for gig. That sounds really cool! They're going to put you up somewhere?" 

"Yes, this Margaret said they have an apartment for me that overlooks Putney Bay, where I'll have peace and quiet and easy access to most of the island for my sketch trips. I'm supposed to meet her and her boss Wainwright Stevens in Victoria Harbor. Then I assume they'll send me out to where I'm to make these sketches. It's all a bit vague..."

"Hm, I'm wondering why they couldn't find someone local to do this...I mean, how did they ever find you? No offence of course, but it seems a bit incredible."

"Well, Margaret somehow got hold of a drawing of mine, and said I had depicted her childhood home, including her toy wagon, when I had actually just made it all up. I've been drawing and painting these places from my head for years now. And drawing them seems to help me stay alive, especially when I look too closely at the real world...is this making any sense?"

"Uh, yeah, I think it makes a lot of sense. And maybe that's what made me 'recognize' you. I got a feeling that you might be someone I'd seen a long time ago, back where I grew up." Carla looked at him, and Alan didn't know what to think. He finally said,"It seems that on one reality, we've never met, but on another, maybe we have...do you get what I'm saying? And I'm not flirting here if that's what you might be thinking!"

"Uh, no," she smiled, "I don't think you are, and I'm not flirting with you, but I'm very glad we've met, um, now!" A bit red-faced, he grinned at her, and then they both looked out again at the ocean. 

"Hey," Carla finally said, "I gotta go, so here is my card and if you ever need a place to stay during your sketching excursions. Don't hesitate to get hold of me, OK?"

"Yes, I'll do that. Thanks!" Alan was delighted - now he felt he had some kind of human connection here, someone besides his employers. He gave her a quick smooch on the cheek and then she grabbed him and hugged him - a warm heartfelt hug at that. Alan was surprised at first, but then he could feel all tension and doubt drain away. He began to feel glad that he came here!