Thursday, October 8, 2009
the vanishing wave part two
Alicia: The ocean’s side is the finest place to envision one’s surrounding, when seen the way the blind person sees it.
Regular, rhythmic, yet constantly in flux; the visitors of every species across its shifting surface...
The smells so pungent and full of life, the awesome smallness of humanity before the face of its oceans can be felt beyond the hints to the naked eye: a smallness beside the passages of time, here to shape the land for a moment amidst its waves on one of the dozen San Diego beaches...
Franklin: Uncle Johnny!
Alicia: (in thought) We find the slight chill of the elements and a kiss of the love of the sun, while I hear the cooling man’s feet splashed with hissing kisses across the moist, clay-like slurries of sand.
“So how you like California, nephew?”
says Johnny Storm.
“I love it!” replies the little boy, “and I hope, hope, HOPE you still want to take me out to look for the sea life off the shore!”
“Inna minute,” Johnny replies, before flashing away again in flames.
Reed said, “We’ve been asked to consult about possible improvements to the proposed desalinization plant in Carlsbad; in times of draught, a city with a million-plus like San Diego could do with a greater reservoir of potable water. On the other hand, there is an environmental impact, such as with the older power plants pumping the Pacific.”
As Ben himself told me, “Everyone from the Governator to the local activists had weighed in on picking the site!” The time spent in careful consideration was being weighed beside project dollars on the ticking clock. “’Like sands t’roo the hourglass,’ you might say,” he remarked.
Reed and Sue were here dealing with two sides of one problem, and just for fun, he started brainstorming about energy possibilities for the upcoming fastrail between San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. When it’s finished, we could drop in on the X-Men by the Bay in two hours from here! Though if the need arises, my adopted family travels in their own inimitable fashion.
I think Reed diagnosed the situation and had some range of specific answers twelve minutes after he was asked, based on factual data about the area and the process. I’m glad Johnny suggested “we should check out the situation in person!” “Time permitting,” Sue responded, “that is an excellent idea.”
When Ben asked if I’d like to go spend four days in Southern California, suddenly this standstill in my sculpting and shows pointed to the right time away: to feel the grains of the beach, and make sculptures here that will wash away sometime after I am home in New York, with my adopted family, as Franklin frolics in the fragrant foam.
Reed’s hand is stretched out half a football field, judging from his voice; his son’s hand held tight as Franklin splashes in the trickling down tide; I believe I hear Susan’s shield hover invisibly some yards off the shore, in rhythm to divert a large wave, and I feel the shape she creates to gradually disburse the waves rolling at angles to the beach.
“The director of the state Department of Fish and Game, wrote that mitigation plans were sufficient,” Sue is saying. “But they know expanding the water intake of a de-salting plant will have further impact on the food chain of coastal animal and plant life, starting with the fish and their larvae.”
“The letters sound similar,” Reed responds, “ and say Poseidon's plans do enough. Schwarzenegger wrote that the situation in San Diego, a county nearly 90 percent reliant on imported water from northern California and the Colorado River, is equally dire.”
I hear the wind fan the tips of Johnny’s flaming aura as he returns snickering conspiratorially and runs up to Franklin. “Ready to go whale watching? Hey! There’s a beached one right over there!”
“That’s Uncle Ben,” giggles Franklin.
I hear a retort from a massive heap of sand resembling a turtle with orange arms and legs, the color of shale stone with a sand shell, some yards away: my boyfriend’s booming Brooklyn basso bellow: “Ahh, I hope a U.S.O. grabs ya and takes you ta visit the Submariner!”
“Sorry, Ben, I’d take you too, but if I dropped you I’d be fined for polluting.”
“Beat it, ya blond banned-beach bonfire, I’m sunbathing!” he says sleepily.
and I feel hear Franklin laugh with highest of spirits and Johnny take him hovering straight off the cusp of the foam rushing into droplets nearby, and the laughter carries the arc of the flight, and I marvel at the power and the wonder and the amazement that might await in the sea beyond...
“I think it’s a matter of time before a reclamation plant capable of processing 30 to 50 million tons of sewage a day will be necessary...”
“Yech!” says Sue. “But it’s true, in the desert you’re not really near a pristine source of water...”
I hear them passing by, the conversation interrupted by Ben’s yelp.
“Hey, sumbuddie buried a crab in here! Youch! How’d that get between the places on my craggy ol’ custom-made carcass?”
I watch a veritable castle of sand, covered generously with seaweed and starfish, crumble around the waving mittens that are his massive hands. He stumbles from beneath his afternoon “burial mound” in a bumbling sort of way because the sand gives way beneath his feet, too; I delight in his actions, because I don’t have to see to sense the ruckus in his wake; it’s such a yin to my yang, life without Ben would probably bore me to death early. I hear every shifting step as he makes his way to me beside the seafoam.
“Let’s walk together, Ben,” I say, as I take the most massive arms of the Hero of the Beach.
“You wanna go for a stroll with a jabberin’ gypsum jettie, I guess I got nothing better to do,” he says in a gruff, self-deprecating tone. I can feel the delight in his chest just being with me here. “But do me a favor, babe, and don’t let anyone mistake me for a souvenir shell and take off with me in their beach bag!”
“Sue,” I hear Reed say, with his head bent forward, over what passes for Mr. Fantastic’s phone, ”not to disrupt our delightful reprieve here together before it’s begun...”
Sue sighs. “What is it?” she says in a serious tone.
Ben tries to ignore them, but we stand still. “Lemme know when you’re ready to go horseback riding down in Rosarito---though I imagine I’ll give it a pass, myself, less they got a horse for people of the quarter ton persuasion. With my luck, it’ll be a corral a’ Shetland ponies!
“One of the cities near the early construction sites for the speedrail is experiencing some type of focused increase in ambient radiation, of a sort the researchers at Mount Palomar say they’ve never seen except in the distant reaches of space...”
“Have we?” she asks.
“Actually, it’s not at all different than the chronal interface matrices involved in powering the points of access in the time travel platform formulated by Victor Von Doom.” He becomes silent for about seven seconds, making Sue shudder.
“You don’t think that it’s Doom?” she remarks.
“It’s developing a pattern that intersects with a steady flow of energies such as exist at the portal to the Negative Zone, as well,” he says, punching buttons furiously. “Do you remember when Central City vanished some years ago?”
“Then, is it your father?” Sue says.
“If it is” replies Ben, who also overhears them by this point, “why don’t he just come crash us at Turkey Time like family oughtta, catch the Macy’s Parade and snooze through the football games onna couch?”
“There’s this emission detected by Seasat 57 from space,” Reed says. Sue has her own F-phone out to read the same data feed Reed skims over, and then I feel her hand on my arm. “Alicia,” she says, “when my brother gets back with Franklin, I think we may need to take you two back to the hotel.
I feel something with her at this moment; Reed has always been no less than kind to me, but I feel Sue’s passion, her zeal for the unknown and the inextinguishable campfire that smolders in the back of her mind about the incalculable dangers and her love for her child and her family and her man, poised in a balance, knowing any mission could result in one or more of them never returning, and because they are in my hearts, I know that feeling, too...and as fragile as I feel before the majesty of the sea, so too do the men and women sometimes feel as they face the perils of the Fantastic Four...
“Sheesh, Stretcho, I ain’t even hit Tee Jay yet!” says Ben from beneath a huge version of one of the brimmed hats favored by the local beach boys. “ And me with my gorgeous passport pitcher!”
Back at their hotel room, Alicia sits down in the floor with Franklin as Sue steps off the balcony onto Reed’s hovering Fantastic Car with Johnny and Ben already seated behind windshields in booster-rocket like portions of the tub shaped vehicle.
They can count on me to be strong for them, and be here for Franklin...
Alicia: (aloud to Franklin, who holds a homemade deck of hand-colored cards)
We can play until it’s time for your nap, then, okay? We’re going to have a great time.