I was in the real wild blue yonder with this one.
I had some vague idea how I was going to tie this woman to Adrianna as an alternate manifestation.
Someone might have been able to do that.
I was not.
The experiences described, however, are as accurately recounted as I am able of two things that really did happen to me.
The first time I saw the coffee colored woman I knew that there was significance to the incident, but I had no idea what that significance might be. I say that I knew; I should have said sensed. And I also should have said that that act of sensing had occurred at a level deeper than anything I had thought, at the moment of occurrence, that I had sensed ever before.
Up to the moment of the incident it had been a pleasantly normal day. It was early fall and the trees were just beginning to turn, the nights were just beginning to have that it’s-not-summer-anymore touch of chilliness and the sun had that odd yellow gold color and that odd, not summertime, angle that is always the harbinger of autumn. And, as is always the case, both of those things – the gold and the angle - had been sudden and recent appearances.
It was about eleven o’clock in the morning and I had been on an extended ride on my bike. I had been a number of places but at the point of my encounter with the coffee colored woman I was in Seward Park. I had just completed enough laps around the peninsula to have added an aggregate 25 miles to the total with which I had entered the park prior to the laps. I was back in the main entry area to the park and was on my way to the prong of the road that goes up the hill so that I could do a few hilly laps and then probably call it a day and break for home.
Suddenly, although I could still see everything that I had been seeing only an instant before, I was somewhere else. At least I had the distinct sense that I was not any more where I had been only moments before, even though I could still see everything that I had seen only moments before.
The big difference was the light.
It was as if somehow a huge cosmic dimmer had been activated making things less light. More accurately it was as if a just slightly less than transparent ingredient had been added to whatever constitutes the fluid in the atmospheric mixing bowlful of a sun-bright morning, making the mixture a just slightly brown-grey. The crystal clarity remained; the mixture just acquired a slightly darkening tint. I felt as if I had been enclosed in an enveloping dome that had separated me from everything which I had moments before been connected to, and connected with, and that I was instead suddenly in a separate place.
I had had a similar experience once before.
That experience had occurred when I had been recovering from a fairly major foot surgery. The convalescence time was six weeks in bed. For me, who put great value on fitness and leanness, the thought of being confined to bed for any length of time – any length of time that appeared to be long enough to turn me into a puddle of fat – that six weeks loomed as a dismal fate.
So I had attempted to elude that fate if at all possible.
As soon as I was able to use the walker to get to the top of the stairs that went down to the office, and more importantly, to the garage – the garage being where I had an exercise bench and my weights – I went to that top of the stairs, got out of the walker and scooted down the stairs in a sitting position and used the crutches that I had positioned for such expeditions at the bottom of the stairs to go and get the two twelve pound weights, scoot back up the stairs, one at a time, the weights on the stair behind me each time I caught up with them, until we were all back at the top and one again with the walker.
The weights being upstairs, coupled with the dining room chair that I had moved into the living room, gave me a place to do a modified form of lifting weights. There probably was some physical value to the exercise, as limited as it was; there was for certain a high degree mental value.
It was in the middle of that weight lifting one morning when I had the predecessor experience to the one in Seward park.
I just suddenly was, without any doubt, somewhere else. That somewhere else, as in the Seward Park occurrence, was hard to come to intellectual grips with, because I could still see every familiar thing in the living room, just as I had seen them in that instant before the switch had occurred. But in that post-instant universe everything became different. Everything, though still apparently close, was distant to a degree that is difficult to describe. Perhaps the train whistle one hears quite clearly, even though that whistle is coming from miles away is the closest phenomenon that the physical world has to offer as an analogy to what I am describing.
What I realized was that I was dead.
Or that, perhaps, I was dying but not dead yet.
In either event, I was in the process of departing.
And I wasn’t worried, frightened or – even – annoyed.
I was just mildly interested what it was going to be that was going to happen next.
And a list of things that I needed to do presented itself to me.
They were mostly trivial housekeeping sorts of things that one would probably want to do to leave things as acceptable as possible to those who one was leaving behind. And I think I did some of those things. One of those things that I know I did – the only one that I remember - was to move a Quicken backup file from one location to another. I had had my ThinkPad as my constant companion for the term of my convalescence; it was only appropriate that one of my final acts would be to do some computer housekeeping.
The other thing I should mention is that, in addition to all the visual effects of the state to which I had suddenly been transitioned, there was also a physical feeling. That feeling was one of vacancy; it was one of overwhelming enervation; oddly, it was not one of withdrawal. I was still there, but there in a new and different – altered – state.
As it turned out, the last thing I was going to remember was working on that quicken file. I don’t remember anything else.
So, at the time there was a span which I didn’t remember then, and still don’t remember now, in which I don’t know what happened.
But at the time there came a time when I had come back from whatever state it was that I had lapsed into – death being the best description I have ever had for it. And as I realized that I was coming back, or had come back, I began to try to remember what it had been that had happened once I had realized that I had lapsed into a different state of being, or transitional state to non-being, and what it was that had happened after that Quicken file change of location.
But Quicken was all that there was. After Quicken I could remember nothing until I had begun to come back.
Once I had come back, there was something about that Quicken file and the place that I had put it that wasn’t right and I needed to fix it. So I went to the location that I had put it. But it wasn’t there. I had to fix the problem that I had created so I tried to go to the location a second time. Again, the file wasn’t there. The whole thing lapsed into what seemed about to become a never ending series of iterations of trying to find that file and fix the problem but not finding it. It was maddening.
I kept trying and trying until I finally gave up and went to bed. I was still inside the six week bedridden part of my recovery from the surgery so in bed is where I should have been in the first place. And I was really tired from whatever the encounter had been that I had experienced and the post encounter bout of trying to fix my self induced Quicken problem.
Several hours later I awakened refreshed and feeling as well as not being able walk allowed me to ever feel. I put the ThinkPad on my lap sitting up in bed and went after Quicken one more time. The file was where it was supposed to be, not in someplace else, that someplace else being, if the file had really been there, an absolutely wrong thing to have done.
It wasn’t until weeks later that it dawned on me what the Quicken episode had been. (I never have been able to explain whatever it was that happened to me preceding the Quicken incident – death, or near death seems to be the only likely explanation.) What had happened with the Quicken file had been a dream. I should have recognized it immediately because it had followed perfectly the format of a type of recurring dream that I experience.
The most frequent version of the dream is that I am in some really large, rambling building that is an integral part of an even larger rambling sort of complex. I think a major part of the thing is a lodging establishment, but there are also shops and restaurants and a large theatre. I always am in the process of tracing a path with which I am totally familiar from wherever it is that I am to wherever it is that I want to go. But the path keeps changing as I track it. Initially I am well on my way to staying in familiar territory and successfully getting to where I am going when suddenly I find myself in a different place. That different place is also totally familiar to me and I know what alterations I need to make to my planned route to accommodate the changes that have occurred and still get to where I am going when things change again. It never ends, and I continue with dogged certainty of success, constantly coping with the constantly changing path, until I finally wake up vastly relieved that the experience - which is so convincingly real that in the dream it never occurs to some shred of my conscious mind that I am dreaming - has been, in fact, that dream again.
So apparently the real sequence of events on that day was that I had some kind of brush with death, and that brush came, deepened and took me wherever it wanted to take me, but there was some vestige of me still not gone to wherever that place was, and that vestigial presence went to bed, had the dream, which, unlike the normal format of that dream, had a limited number of iterations and terminated with the dream showing me giving up on the Quicken problem and going to bed – a bed that I was, in fact, already in and already in a deep, albeit troubled, sleep.
So on that day in Seward park I recognized the phenomenon.
And from the enervating center of the thing that engulfed me, I saw, utterly differentiated from the other people and things that I could still see outside of that engulfing thing, the coffee colored woman. I had the sense that wherever I was, she was also, and the way she appeared, which was with crisp clear reality - as opposed to the somewhat vagueness of the other people and things - seemed to support that sense.
And then she smiled at me and in that instant I rode back out into the actual world – the whole event had taken an immeasurably tiny slice of time, and I had been pedaling right through that whole slice – and she was gone and I was back in that state that I refer to as reality.