Atlas shrugged. Perhaps you felt it. Your world gave a shudder, like a cold chill up your spine. And as quickly as the feeling came, it went, leaving nary a trace. You got up from bed the next day and all was in its usual place. You are lucky.
In my world the ground shifted so greatly that there is no level surface upon which to rebuild. The ocean at my door recedes and I know that I must run, run to higher ground away from the inevitable tsunami of grief. Can I run fast enough? More importantly, in my broken Alexandria, do I want to run? It would be so much easier to just be overwhelmed.
I was paralyzed for a time after the earth quaked. I stood frozen in place and cried with fear at the devastation, mired at my epicentre. I knew what had to be done, I knew that I had to prioritize, but I was so stunned by the sudden impact and resulting panic that I simply could not move. My brain was simply unable to process anything other than what it saw, to pick over the wreckage looking for anything, any means of salvage.
I’m picking up pieces now, but I know I can’t stay. This Alexandria is now my Christchurch and I know I cannot rebuild on the same ground. Much of what is here will have to be left behind. So strange. I’d never wanted to live here. It was always someone else’s Utopia, but it became without me even realizing it, the crucible of my Dreams. And whilst I never expected to stay here forever, I did not foresee the dislocation that would tear me from so much of what I cherished.
Away & Beyond lies the unbroken ground, flat and broad. I must go there and rebuild, taking my undamaged salvage … taking even a few fractured remnants, because I cannot bear to let them go. I know these pieces will crowd me in their uselessness, but I cannot let them go, not yet.
Away & Beyond doesn’t look inviting to me. It’s just somewhere to rebuild, a place to re-establish my reserves and hopefully find my future again. There is no joy in the move for I know what I leave behind and I see the hard, drought ravaged land that I must break in order to build my new city. Temporary shelter will have to suffice initially until I can find some source of irrigation to soften the soil and feed the soul.
I’ll go. But I’m not running. I’m leaving markers to find my way back, to maintain claim to my broken ground, even if I do know it’s no longer stable. Hmph. Sorrow is like that. You get so wrapped up in the overwhelming loss that even with the salvaged remains you cling to a past that can never be again. I know that’s what I’m doing. And I know that even as I slowly turn to walk away if the tsunami should overtake me I would not fight it, for it would take with it the broken remnants I cherish. It would be easier than rebuilding with the fragments of Alexandria anyway.
The after-tremors have ceased. The spasm that took hold of Atlas’ shoulder has been relieved by someone else taking his burden for a time, allowing him to stretch before resuming his genuflection to the Olympians. With the ground now settled I’ve considered staying in my shattered Alexandria, but without what Away & Beyond offers, rebuilding will take longer, possibly too long; without Away & Beyond, there may never be a new place for my Great Library.
I’ve laid claim to my salvage and secured the walls as best I can. The gates are back in place, although they need work if they are to last more than a few weeks or months. It’s work that will take a year, possibly more; hard back-breaking work. I know I have the ability to do this, but like some survivor of an unforeseen conflict, one that I failed to predict, I worry that it will happen again. I fear the disaster that will take the shards of my Dreams from me and leave but the scars. I’m so scared of a horizon I cannot see that I don’t want to move. Is this what they call post traumatic stress? I don’t know. I just know that even in my leaving Alexandria for the flat, broad grounds of the open plain, I fear the floods and drought that are the unpredictable threats capable of stripping what little I have left.
I keep thinking of the day Atlas shrugged, how perfect it was in Summer’s brilliant heat. It shouldn’t have been such a stunning day, the day my Alexandria was broken. “… and I thought that it would rain, on a day like today …” It is me who is on the buses and trains, put there out of necessity, leaving my Alexandria, the city I never thought I could love.
I haven’t packed. I will cram my few possessions into a couple of bags at the last possible moment. I want to sit in my Alexandria for as long as I possibly can, until leaving is the now that must be, rather than the future I would rather ignore. I am resisting the inevitable, the ostrich in this newly desolate landscape.
“What do we leave …
Only Anatevka …
… where else could summer feel so sweet?”
I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE! I BELONG IN MY ALEXANDRIA!
… but I will pick up the pieces of my Dreams, those sacred parts of my being and carry them someplace safe and bury them, deep in the ground away from Alexandria. I will consign them to the protection of the very element that Atlas disrupted, far from the broken Alexandria, far from Away & Beyond. I do not know if I will ever be able to return to collect them, but the place of their internment, the contents of the crypt will never be lost to me. Perhaps they will become relics, discovered by archeologists, a time capsule of a day long gone to intrigue future generations. I hope not. I only wish that I could see again, beyond the wide barren plains of Away & Beyond, where I may very well walk forever and never cross another oasis of philosophy and thought.
Ah Alexandria, will I again gaze upon your Lighthouse, or will you be forever lost to me by the vagaries of a single Titan’s weary body?