Buddha Told Us Not to Go There

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by A.M. Davis

Where was our world? We wept.

I had gone looking for Dad’s old office and found out that I was long dead.

The Oakland creeks had forgotten to stay in their concrete tunnels. The salmon forgot to stay in the Farmed-Fish farms. They swam all slim and muscular and hard-headed upstream to mate again. The reeds swayed and crickets sang.

The streets named after trees and banks were trees and banks again. My little human heart ached.

I pretended not to notice that the new homeowners (young black urban professionals, a woman and her compliant husband – buppies, we used to say) were pretending not to notice that their mosaic tile floors were under streams. They smiled, freshened my drink. One woman said,

“You knew this place when? Why, we’ve been here forever!”

“Yes,” our hostess smiled, “I paid too much but it was worth it. It’s all part of the charm,” she said as she wiggled her toes in her fireside river.

Since it was a dream, I took the liberty of clinging to the memories. I suffered the way Buddha said we do at times like these. I yearned to yearn just like a child would, and I did.

The dinosaurs were more distraught than I. Sure, they went roaring and stomping around and chasing humans, but I could see them rubbing their eyes with the backs of their teeny-weeny foreclaws. What a mess everything turned out to be, what with their supercontinent and all their swamps now pine forests, the Mohave, and this gentrified Brookfield Village.

And I was upset, sure. Not only was Dad still long dead, but the building that held his tiny, shabby real estate office was now an overpriced two-story luxury home with granite counters everywhere. At least, I told myself, the street was still there, even though it was crumbling.

At least I was not as thoroughly displaced as those dinosaurs.

As I suffered and as my heart ached, I kneaded my hands along with the whatever-sauruses. The people who paid too much to live in the future gentrified East Oakland flats weren’t suffering, yet. They were eating hors d’oeuvres. The hostess cooed, fluttering around in her flowing chiffon-green-flowery hostess gown.

With the creek on Creekside Street ruining her living room carpet, she informed me (as she handed me another drink) that it was all the rage, now that it was no longer right-angled, underground, concrete-contained, like it was from the 1940s until past 2040.

I watched it tumble down carpeted steps like little rapids, run through their kitchen, and out the back of the house and through the wetlands to the bay.

The crickets and crawdads and salmon seemed to have survived all of the prophecies of extinction as they made conversation difficult.

The allosaurus roared as if he would spit fire, then quieted himself on his back haunches. He seemed resigned to watch us go extinct without his help.

I remembered the story Dad told, when I was a little girl, of the mouse he poisoned that stumbled out into the room as he tried to close a real estate deal. He told me he had kicked it under the couch as it shivered and died and I remembered just how “Dad” Dad could be, laughing at his foibles.

No, I didn’t mind man going extinct. I did mind that Dad’s office wasn’t there, though. I minded that I could not go back. I could not walk to the back kitchen, neat but filthy, (the way men keep things, everything at right angles, but grease film on the stove). I minded that I could not look in the refrigerator for a hidden stash of chocolates, couldn’t get bored and read a library book and wait for Dad to come back from the front office and take me home.

The gentrification couple gulped down their apple martinis. Their guests cleared their throats.

Then the sun set. As with dreams within dreams, we all woke up together, melancholy. One of the dinosaurs turned on the television so that we could keep ourselves company.

ann-marie-davisA. M. Davis was born and raised in Oakland, California. She is storyteller/poet, a speaker on behalf of the Earth. In 2007, she walked away from her job to devote her life to her creativity. Upon attending a silent meditation retreat, she found space of time in her racing mind, and discovered that she was not her thoughts. This led to daily meditation, retreats, and becoming part of the East Bay Meditation Center community. She recently discovered the Joanna Macy’s work, and the trajectory of her life finally made sense.

You can find more of her work at annmariedavis.com.

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