The Beginning

It began with a rapid succession of images:

  • Coastal foothills at sunrise with a farmstead in the distance.

This is how it was presented to me. These images appeared in rapid succession with no context at all and a bit too fast to recognize the moment, but long enough to remember the scene. Then, everything went black. And silent. I was hoping for a speck of light or a sound as a reference point… but there was nothing. Where did I find myself this time?

Blinking my eyes, slowly the light came though. There were trees — I was on a road, hunched over. The air was humid and cold. I was on a rutted dirt road, the kind of rutted dirt road that has seen it’s share of use that the centre of the road raised up and the grass is kept trimmed by the vehicles that drive over it. By the length of the grass, there has been some traffic recently. The trees above had a full canopy that closed over the road blocking out the light, but there were not many branches down below so it still felt open underneath. Open, but dark. The trees were reaching out from either side of the road and formed a perfect arch over the road. It reminded me of the space that is made when you put the fingertips of one hand in the webbing between the fingers of the other hand to form a sealed cavern. Barely any light getting through, and barely any moisture escaping.

Wherever I was, I felt out of place, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. It was like I had arrived at the right time, but I was in the wrong location. I had a vague sense of purpose which I was hoping would be revealed to me quickly. It felt like the surroundings were different, but the goal was the same. I had all of my skills, all of my knowledge with me so I wasn’t starting fresh, this time. Now I was in a different place and time.

I started walking along the road hoping there would be an end to the tunnel. I started taking note of what my form was this time. The clothes I was wearing were everyday kid clothes with muted colours that blended in with the tunnel I was in. I could feel the damp of the air and hear the crunch of the gravel under my feet. I had a sense — an urgent need to be somewhere — but where? I had just found myself in a secluded location. Where was I supposed to go? I turned around slowly to survey the tunnel and kept walking in a direction that seemed like it was headed slightly downhill. The silence was unsettling. It left me with my thoughts that repeated questions without answers. Why was I the only person around? Where was everybody? How do I get home? I needed to move from here in order to start finding clues to my goal.

Slowly the canopy started to let more light in as I got closer to the opening and there was a faintness of a breeze. The leaves started to rustle and clatter as if the trees were the audience and the wind urged applause of my achievement of making it this far. Was I being watched? Was I being judged on my actions or progress? Was this a game I found myself in with actors and judges all around? I didn’t know. I just hoped I could get there in time to survive — for all of us to survive. As I reached the end of the canopy the road eased out further down the hill gently winding to the terrain. I could see something that felt like home — but I had never been here before.

Across the cleared farmland and down the slight embankment the scenery stretched on for what seemed like hours. Time felt like it slowed down in order for me to take in the view. The mountains and river in the distance glowed in the soft orange light of either sunrise or sunset — I didn’t even know what time it was. There was a small house near the shoreline of the river. Between that house and where I stood at the entrance of the tunnel there stood a building that looked like a barn or guest house with a single track path leading to the door. The barn held much deeper feelings for me than I could understand. It felt like it was a place that was off limits but I knew I would find myself inside that building soon.

After feeling like I had gotten a glimpse of the setting and background I was now in (got my bearings) I headed back into the canopy tunnel. It was as if something I saw, smelled or felt unlocked a zoo of memories. Seeing that scene of my home again, and for the first time, had unlocked a lifetime of memories. I can remember looking at that scene in all the seasons, at all times of day. It all came in at different rates — pictures, feelings, and senses — some stronger than others. I needed to leave that place, now. I had to find my people — my friends, my brothers or sisters? I didn’t know who they were. I knew I would know them when I saw them. We needed to get ourselves on the adventure we planned. We were headed to the hills in the distance and time was getting short. It was all still a bit hazy but I knew the fastest way to find them was on my bike. Now where did I leave it?

I ran back into the canopy, crossing back and forth over the centre ridge, trying to remember where I had left my bike. How could I remember that? I didn’t even know where I was? The setting felt familiar, but there was an urgency, a deep set fear that time was running out. The people who needed to be somewhere at a certain time at this point had no knowledge of their plans or the consequences. My mind was flashing through the memories like an intro sequence to a TV drama trying to find a clue that would help me understand my purpose this time. Who were the key characters? What was the climax? What were the dangers we were to face? Where was the happiness to be found?

Then scenes started playing out again. Slower this time to gather more details:

  • Coastal foothills at sunrise with a farmstead in the distance. I was just there and had seen firsthand the mountains, the river, the house and the barn. That had been what triggered my return to the tunnel.

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Jeremy Calhoun

Photographer, Designer, Musician — things I’ve tried to be. Adding Writer to the list is another attempt at creating meaning. I have good stories, though.