Typical of many urban settings, the historically proud church held its ground as it was slowly engulfed by more contemporary high rises and electrically charged avenues of modernity. Its quaint brick tower punctuated with large panels of leaded glass still dominated over the centuries old burial grounds that were its origin. In reverence to those eternally asleep, this modest cathedral was constructed on brick piers over and above the aged tombs, creating a mysterious network of catacombs beneath.
Retreating from the energetic heart of this city, I seek out the grave of one of it’s proud sons in this old church yard, and ponder the tragic course of his life. He could never rise above the loss of his young sweetheart, who was 14 when they married and 25 when she died, leaving him in an unrecoverable grasp of despair and leading to his death 2 year’s later at the age of forty. Inscribed on his last monument to the world is the name of his wife, mother and himself, as they all lie beneath the one tombstone that rises like a beacon behind the neat iron grill work and brick walls of this sanctuary, only yards away from the busy scramble of a city thoroughfare.
Later in the day I find my way back to one of the finest establishments in the city, an elegant hotel that faces the waterfront with its prominent old sailing ship surrounded by bustling water taxies. The retreat to the large cocktail lounge and its adjoining sitting room was a step back in time, into the gentlemen’s club of a hunting lodge, with life sized carved leopards guarding the entry, and the ubiquitous foot stools of the elephant’s feet and arched tusks of the elephant’s teeth accenting the exotic wildlife surroundings. Carved animals, hides and mounted horns are prevalent throughout, and the spacious sitting room lined with book shelves sports typical over-stuffed chairs and couches, while the large wall of windows hosts seating for drinks and dining.
At the end of the evening and back in the fine hotel room I gaze out at the night lights with the feelings of awe and curiosity that I always feel being at home, however briefly, with a new city skyline. And with those sensations, I drift off.
I’m on a high speed roller coaster, hurtling up and down and over clouds on a ride one could compare to the Las Vegas high rise with the ride at the top that swings out over the city , and I am very hot, sweating with the thrills. Suddenly, the coaster car soars into the blackness of space, and I am sailing above frozen mountain peaks and sliding down ice sheets which seem to be in the Andes, and I become very, very cold.
Looking down from the cold onto another place, there is a funeral procession and the hearse has strange, bronzy- tan netting draped all around its windows and over the casket, and I know it is my own.
I am not shaken by the dream, and forget it easily enough, as I begin a new day exploring this city with its sea aquarium and colonial landmarks. Later in the afternoon, in a waterfront area, I browsed through a gift shop, which I enjoy doing to get the feel and expressions of a new place as is evidenced by postcards and local crafts. Gazing across a wall of assorted merchandise, my heart froze as my eyes locked on a long swag of bronzy netting furling down the wall, and the dream of the night before washed over me. It is the same netting, identical to that draped around the ghostly hearse, neatly packaged and displayed on this gift house wall.
All of history’s great deja-vu explainers fall short in describing this actual sensation of an invisible cord connecting an image of the sub-conscious to that of the conscious in a framework far removed from the confinements of time. In this gift shop moment and its conscious space of time, I did not deem it necessary to purchase the mysterious garland of netting.
Where on Earth?! Edgar Allen Poe’s City of Ravens, Baltimore, Maryland USA