Cloud Atlas passage

Mom and I walked the trails by the häckselplatz and went to Berne’s at the top of the hill for an alkoholfrei Hefe. I said this is sublime, and then realized with horror the beer was not alkoholfrei (!) though I could not verify: the girl who took our order was different than the girl who brought the beer, different than the one who brought the flamkuchen. So mom and I traded, and I sat admiring the clouds, the quiet of the scene, wondering was I buzzed, and how banal was all this. Who worries about such a thing? I ordered another to test my theory and sure enough it tasted different than the first. Had I become one of those assholes who sends their decaf back, suspecting the staff of foul play?

We went for an ice cream at the Italian shop and took the long way home. The light golden and clouds puffy. I read and sent a text to Lily, who had her phone now, the first time she had it since March. She’d gone to wilderness therapy where they take everything, like going to prison they put your street clothes and personal effects in a box and hold it for you until discharge. And we’d stalled in giving her her phone back when she got out because what’s the rush? I got a text from her, it just said hey!!!, and out of reflex started responding, though with the time difference it was late for her, not modeling good behavior for a dad.

I had started rereading Cloud Atlas back home and nearly brought it with me to finish it but it was so heavy I decided against. And then I discovered the original copy I’d read in 2015 was here in my bedroom in Germany! And the pages were bent at the bottom where I wanted to note something I liked. My own secret annotations!

So I lay on the sofa by the window rereading it, waiting for the 9 o’clock bells to turn in, wondering would Lily write me back, feeling both connected and removed. Flittering between the past and imagined future, the Russian Matryoshka dolls David Mitchell writes about in his book, stories nested in future versions of themselves. Actual pasts, virtual futures.



Categories: Memoir, writing

Tags: ,

2 replies

  1. The nested sensations we call memory; neural connections of alcohol, fiction, family. Lovely writing, Bill. The travel discombobulation has clearly passed.

    Liked by 1 person

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