CHapter seven: The sync
It is 4:23 am on July twenty-eighth.
My son and I are laying in the floor of the meeting room in the Mother’s cabin, thirty-seven minutes early for our meeting with the others. He is wrapped tightly in a fluffy rug, rolling back and forth singing softly to himself, blinking hard when his eyes start to droop. I poke the rug with my foot and he grins, eyes barely open.
“Don’t ditch me, you little burrito.”
“Don’t worry, I got this. Totally under contr….”
He rolls away giggling and and sticks an arm out of the rug, showing me the paper in his hand; he wanted to be the one to cast the official vote for our time in the Tank. We tallied our chart less than an hour ago, and daytime proved itself more beautiful than night with twice as many points. Looks like we will be spending nights in the Tank, at least for now. I yawn, exhausted but content. I keep catching myself nodding off and realize a smile still lingers on my face.
I have never had so much fun in my life as I had with my son in the woods last night. We filled our notebooks with lists, drawings, poems, and games. We wrote down everything we’ve ever seen in these woods, and talked about so many things we had never talked about before. I kept thinking he had changed and grown up so fast, but now I’m wondering if that might be the first time we’d ever spent that much time together just talking. Either way, I feel a peace I haven’t felt in years. In this moment I feel fully here; I feel happy.
I wake to busy chatter and footsteps and scan the room for the burrito. I sit up quickly, smoothing out my shirt with my hands, first hoping I looked like I was meditating instead of sleeping, then wondering why I cared. My son is sitting in the very front of the room, just inches from the Mother’s feet, back straight as a board with the paper still folded in his little hand. I can’t see his face but the way the Mother is looking down at him tells me his eyes are lit up like the night sky. She smiles sweetly at him and collects his paper before walking around the room, silently collecting six pieces of paper before disappearing into the hall. My son stands up and runs to the back of the room and plops down beside me, grinning up at me like he has a secret.
“What? What are you up to?”
“Nothing, I swear! She said she would be right back.”
He lays his head on my lap to wait and is asleep in less than a minute, still smiling. I sit, running my hands through his hair and humming, thankful for the excuse to keep to myself. I am watching the others, who are mostly struggling to stay awake too. With only three people allowed in the Tanks at once, that means Agni has to split up her family. They’re already separated from James and two daughters who stayed to take care of the Commune; now she’ll be separated from at least two more of them, except for passing each other at the Tank. I hope for their sake this doesn’t last long. She is one of the strongest people I know, but that has to hurt. She’s sitting like my son was, facing forward, back straight, two daughters on either side of her. I wonder what it feels like to make that many people. I look down at my only child who wakes suddenly, bolting to the front of the room. He sits and stares at the space where the Mother had been.
As if on cue, she walks back through the door, pins a paper to the wall in the front of the room, and then turns and looks right in my son’s eyes and winks. I am in a short line waiting to read the paper when I feel her warm hand on my arm.
“I thought you might want to keep this. What a fine young man you have there. Better go ahead and pick up your wraps, since plans have changed.”
The Mother squeezes my arm gently and places a folded piece of paper in my hand before walking back out of the room.
We are in Tank One by 6 a.m. sharp, wearing the soft black wraps the Mother made for each of us by hand. Knowing her, she said a prayer for us with every stitch, and I swear I could feel it as soon as I put it on. My son laughed all the way here about tricking me, and I couldn’t be happier that he did.
The Tank is a very simple, vault-like structure underground. It is nearly impossible to describe where it is, but somehow easy to find once you know. The top is hidden in the ground and opens like the storm shelter I remember playing in at my grandmother’s house when I was small; I called it the door in the floor. There is a small ladder leading to the floor, soft padding on the walls and floor, and nothing else. The lack of bathrooms was something that concerned everyone at our meeting about this new treatment, among other issues like physical discomfort, breathing, everything you can imagine being concerned about when told you must spend twelve hours at a time underground in a dark room. All the Mother had said to reassure us is, You won’t need one. You’ll be comfortable and safe. You’ll be okay…and we all believed her.
I think I would have believed her either way, but my experience in the Tanks so far has been unusual to say the least. I don’t ever remember feeling sore or uncomfortable, despite the lack of fussy pillows and blankets, and sometimes hours spent sitting, legs crossed. Before I could have left when I felt ready, but it was never because me or my son needed to use the bathroom. Time feels like it pauses in the Tanks. Still, I can’t help but wonder what twelve hours is going to feel like.
We usually start our meditations in the Tank talking together, describing what we want it to be like, or what kind of visions we would like to have, but as we slip deeper into the calm we tend to separate, retreating into ourselves as we rest. It has taken me my entire adult life to learn to truly meditate, and it is awesome and surprising how quickly my son was able to do it from a young age. I love that I can sit so closely and connected to him and still feel alone and still, and though he doesn’t have the words for that feeling I know he loves it, too.
This time feels so different already. We start the same as always, sitting face to face, palms up.
“What do you want to see this time, buddy?”
“I don’t want to see anything yet. Can we sing? Teach me to make my voice strong like yours. I want to see if we can shake the Tank.”
We start chanting, one at a time, getting a little louder each time. As usual, he giggles his way through the first few times, but quickly gets settled. His third chant sends chills through my spine. It is ten times louder and deeper than ever before. My own voice feels locked into his, effortlessly, and we begin chanting in what feels like the same voice.
I don’t know if it is possible to really describe what is happening. Though I can’t see a thing, I can feel the energy of my son sitting in front of me. When I start to slip into my own mind, he somehow comes with me. I can see him there, but it doesn’t feel like a vision or memory of him…it feels like he is really there. I know that if anyone else was in this tank, the only noise they’d hear would be our repetitive, low humming. But somehow it feels like we are entering each other’s dreams, and it is so vivid and beautiful. As the colors become brighter and more in focus, I see neurons, synapses, bright colors firing off in every direction. We are chanting and singing, running together through my mind, side by side. His arms are out, fingers brushing the bright blue synapses like branches as he runs past, sending waves of something bigger than any energy I’ve ever felt rushing through my head. I have never experienced anything like this in my life.
I can feel the Tank begin to vibrate, slowly at first. The vibration builds until it feels as if my soul is shaking. Suddenly it stops, and the Tank fills with light. I hear faint voices, and am shocked when my eyes begin to focus on a face at the opening of the tank. Agni is holding the door open, smiling at me.
“It’s six o’clock…you didn’t fall asleep, did you?”