Leaving on a Battleship

I dreamt last night that I was shipping off with my wife on a big, black-iron, state of the art battleship. It was part of a new program by the government to wed civilian and military culture. I was extremely excited about the ship. It was enormous and we would have lots of space to ourselves. The program was a redux of the Homestead Act, where people were given land for free as long as they went and built a homestead on it. The inside of the battleship was like an Art Museum. Stark, with high ceilings and incredibly long stretches of wooden floors. There were statues, in fact.

We said our goodbyes. I remember saying goodbye to my parents. Finally I began to feel as though I were fulfilling my civic duty. We were going to man this battleship, and live in luxury in the meantime.

We got on the ship in the harbor. The way I remember it, the ship was something like a battleship/aircraft carrier hybrid. As the ship sat in harbor, filling up with people and supplies, the weather turned cold. The water began to ice over and it started to snow.

We were in harbor for a long time. Snow covered the ice. Could we break through it? Of course. This was a cutting edge battleship. It had ice-breaking abilities. In fact, we were going to Alaska.

We got out into the Pacific. What open water. It was only once we got going that the weight of my duty began to sink in on me. This was a battleship, I recalled. We could get sunk. Russia was just off to the west. I asked someone, “Could this thing sink?” “No,” he said, “there’s no one gonna sink this thing.”

It grew eerie on the ship. I was still excited and ready to embrace my duty. But there was hardly anyone around. Just my wife and me, sitting on a sectional couch that elbowed a topiary-type sculpture. So I went looking for someone to ask what I could do. I don’t remember finding anyone.

I went to sleep. I woke early the next morning. It was very cold on the battleship. I followed the source of the cold. One of the windows had been left open. The window was an anachronism on the ship, glass with wooden frames. White paint on the wood was peeling off. It was like the window of my old apartment building. A whole bathtub full of snow had come in through the window. Where were we gonna put all this snow?

I decided I had to shovel it up. I couldn’t find a shovel. The snow had to be cleared. With my bare hands, I dug in.

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