Somebody Else’s Bed

When I woke up, I couldn’t bring into focus one familiar thing in the bedroom.  I remembered taking two aspirins around 1:30 this morning to settle a heart that felt like running a marathon as I slept. I hadn’t had an anxiety attack in years – but here it was like a long lost frenemy. Then after what felt like a good night’s sleep, I was anxious again. My heart wasn’t racing, though. Everything was calm.

Too calm.

I considered whether I was dead, which conjured up a new meaning to death as in dead, to this world, but still in it. However, that too would be off-putting as I felt were the case in this bedroom that was slightly off.

Did I “die” in my sleep after the aspirin episode? Is that what caused my “transition?”
If so, and I am questioning my existence, then, where am I? Would I again have to learn how to deal, or should I say, interact with an entirely different group of “humans?”
I’m in a bed so they must be “humans,” right?
Or am I alone?
What if I’m reborn? And now, I am an infant or helpless with no motor skills, depending on someone to care for me?
Who did I come through? Will she be able to care for me until I’m able to care for me?

Damn, how crazy is it to be programmed again from infant stage, that is,—- until I synchronize with this current consciousness. Or not.

If I’ve returned to earth as a human -in what era did I arrive? Will my understanding make me obsolete because the civilization I’ve entered is far advanced – or will others consider me a prodigy?

What will I do with this new existence, and how long will it take before I can sojourn my chosen path?

Is there a path?

The first step, slipping my foot into my flip flop, informed me of my mobility. With it, the familiar came into focus.

I soon remembered that besides keeping with ancient Rome’s time, it was the objects that also kept me tethered to this consciousness and existence.

Welp, as Saint Augustine said, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

So far, I’d been obedient – I even got out of bed on the right side since the Romans believed it was a bad omen to do otherwise.

Those tremors I experienced earlier – are gone. All is well. Or maybe just delayed.

Today, I might throw away all the timepieces, and my possessions save one.

Tomorrow, perhaps, I’ll “get up on the wrong side of the bed” and awaken in a new dimension.

Oh Stewardess: Three Coins in the Fountain

Luck, Likability, & Love are bestowed to some of us in an abundance when we’re born. It seems to follow those with a charmed life well into the 40s.  Those who have done the most with the three Ls in their youth are well cared for until they take their last breath…

Others seem unable to catch a break from the time they are born.  If not for bad luck, there would be no luck at all for these souls. Love is limited. Likability is scarce, not for lack of trying but simply because those struggling are also simultaneously invisible. And surely, without the other two, it is rare that one can even muster self-love, let alone Eros. 

But all is not lost.

If by chance, they are lucky enough to get Rome, Italy, legend follows throwing three coins in the Trevi fountain promises a safe return to Rome, love, and marriage.

Some believe the magic is in the water that comes from the former Aqua Virgo aqueduct.  Others say the enchantment and wellbeing emanate from the gods and goddesses depicted in the fountain display.

Oceanus, the god of the earth’s flowing waters, is in the center.  On his left is Abundance flanked with a horn of plenty filled with fruits and vegetables. On his right is Salubrity representing good health.

Above the goddesses’ heads, depicted in the bas-reliefs, shows the maiden’s story at the intersection of the three highways directing the soldiers towards the “virgin waters.” The one on the left shows General Marcus Agrippa giving the order to build the aqueduct.

Below Oceanus, Triton guides his seashell-shaped chariot drawn by seahorses.  The son of Neptune, Triton, is the god who controls the ocean’s waves. The waves’ temperament, calm or fierce, is shown on either side.

Harnessing good fortune from these Roman Gods and Goddesses becomes more than acquiring love and marriage but a life filled with abundance, health, and travel protection for every seafarer.  And it will only cost you three coins in the fountain to acquire a good fortune.

H/t: romanwisedotcom trevi-fountain-history for filling in the details I missed during my visit.

The Transportation Curse?

For more than ten years, I lived in a town whose name was loosely translated into The Place of the Skull.  The name allegedly originated from a curse leveled on the town by a Delaware Indian tribal chief whose family members were slaughtered during the Native American Trade of the 1700s.

Legend has it when a person commits a deed that is judged evil; the person, the deed, and the land where the deed was committed is also considered evil.  To warn other Indigenous Americans of the evil spirit in the town, the skull of a white rum trafficker, who allegedly was one of the assailants, was placed on a stick and left on a hill peak in the town.

According to a local historian and author, Alan Fitzpatrick, before there were any wars before European settlers took over the area, there were clans who were trafficking rum and trading other goods which would encounter the indigenous people traveling on the east-west path known as the National Road (Route 40).

Aside: my home was on National Road. Tuck this tidbit of information away until later. It will make sense then.

Fitzpatrick, whom I worked with as a producer on his documentary – “The Fort Henry Story,” said the traders, soon-to-be settlers, would peacefully trade with the indigenous people. Then reports indicate the traders eventually got greedy, got the tribes drunk, and would steal their furs, horses, and anything they thought valuable.   Eventually, the traders would displace the Indians, pushing them further west, but not before slaughtering many.  Hence, the skull warning from the survivors to any indigenous people who would enter the territory.

Today, the town is like a place that time forgot.

This past weekend my oldest daughter tried to return.  She’d planned to attend her high school’s 15th class reunion.  Since she doesn’t drive, it meant she would have to rent a local limousine to pick her up from the airport to drive her to the town. The cost was $98 one way.  She priced a Uber, and the cost was $77, but the town’s legislators have not yet passed a Uber law.  A Uber driver from the ride-sharing company founded in 2009 could pick her up at the airport and drop her off in the town.  However, that same driver isn’t allowed to pick up any passengers for the return trip.  There’s no other transportation between the closest airport which is 50 miles away, and the town situated underneath Interstate 70.

I don’t want it to appear I’m bad-mouthing the town’s leaders because I’m not. I loved it there. The town, the place of the skull, it was where I got my journalism chops.

It’s also the area where I got most of my high-profile nonprofit experience working through the Federal Home Loan Bank, National Park Service, and Office of Justice Programs.

The friends I made and the people I met there made up one of the most nurturing communities I’ve ever lived in.

But this story is about the curse.

Until 1961, the town was an important railway station of the B&O line, now included in the CSX transportation system. When passenger service ended, the tracks were removed, literally cutting off the town situated on the Ohio River from any opportunity to continue as a viable port.

When I lived there, the population was 35,000 and was served by two of America’s most powerful senators, Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller.   In 2010, U.S. Census reports population was 28,000+ which was almost 14,000 fewer residents since the town’s heyday in 1910.

Still, I’m not sure if there’s anything to the curse. In fact, I believe a curse can only prosper if there’s a belief in it.  But this town does seem to be plagued with east-west transportation challenges. It’s as if the town is punishing those who attempt to travel the east-west route by keeping those who live therein and others out.

In fact, it took us three years to sell our house.  A restrictive covenant we ignored initially had a hold on us for a while. We burned sage, planted artifacts, and eventually, we were released from the covenant.  After my daughter’s high school graduation, we left the town for good.

15 years later, when she attempted to return, my daughter decided against traveling into the town and chose to meet her former classmates in a city about 50 miles away. It is a city with a bustling transportation system, including an airport named the best of 2017 – and no known curse on its land.

As I mentioned, I worked for several nonprofits in the town. All had a similar mission which focused on revitalization and stimulating growth. We did the best we could, but something always seemed to block our final efforts.   Looking back, it seems the curse wasn’t on the community – it was on the transportation route.

Maybe our time and those millions of dollars would have been better spent burning sage up and down the 16 miles of the east-west path now known as U.S. Route 40 – National Road. Then possibly, the “Place of the Skull” would instead be known as a thriving metropolis on the Ohio River.

image of a skull with a crow on top for book cover "Place of the Skull"
Photo Credit:

More on the Place of the Skull can be found in the book of the same name by Alan Fitzpatrick.

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