Whoa! Such a dream:
I was playing an odd kind of augmented reality game on the grounds of the Vanderbilt estate. The point of the game was to capture and then release the souls that the Vanderbilts had enslaved in order to come by their millions (or corrected for inflation, I guess, billions.)
Turns out that the Vanderbilts didn’t make their millions through shipping and railroads, no.
When Cornelius was a boy, he came across a witch in a forest, and that witch gave him the secret of sucking… I guess you could call it either “luck” or “karma” from people.
Anyhoo, once that luck or karma was sucked, its former owners were doomed to lives of hideous poverty, humiliation, and pain while the Vanderbilts leveraged all the good things that should have happened to those people to the Vanderbilts’ own advantage.
The souls of these people were still ensnared on the grounds of the Vanderbilts’ various real estate holdings, and if you had the right kind of equipment – something that looked like a combination of a smartphone and a metal detector – you could capture those souls. And then you had the option of either keeping them in some sort of cloud captivity or releasing them. Except if you wanted to release them – and, of course, in the dream, I did – you had to debrief them, listen to their tragic stories. Which was kind of a downer.
And I kept thinking, I’ve listened to as many of these downer narratives as I am gonna listen to, thank you very much! Except that then, I’d find another lost soul, and I’d think, But you can’t abandon him/her to an eternity of floating in Vanderbilt purgatory!
But I was getting very tired…
And then I woke up!
Tony told me a story that I visualized so vividly while he was telling it that it actually brought tears to my eyes.
The members of my intermediate English class were talking about their experiences when they first arrived in the United States.
“I come here in winter, and it snow,” Tony said. “I was 21. I never seen snow. I never feel cold like that. And they take me to –“ He consulted briefly with Romulo in Spanish.
“House cleaning,” said Romulo. “House cleaning job.”
“Yes, house cleaning job. Somewhere. I don’t know where. And they say, ‘We come back,’ and they leave me. I am alone, and it snow. And I cry.” He laughed. “I cry. But they leave me there, so I clean house. They don’t come back, so I cry some more.” He laughed again.
“But they did come back,” I said. “Eventually. Right?”
“I don’t know!” Tony said. “I don’t remember. But I am here now, so…” He shrugged wryly.
Tony is definitely my favorite among the students in that class. He’s the handyman at Linwood.
The Linwood estate was originally owned by the surgeon general who took care of the Continental Army’s wounded during the Revolutionary War. He was married to a Livingston, of course.
By the turn of the 20th century, the house had fallen into hideous disrepair. Eventually, it was purchased by a prominent brewer. (Beer would really seem to have been the way to get rich in the 19th century! Many of the prominent fortunes hereabouts – including the Vassar fortune – were made by brewers.) The brewer’s name was Jacob Ruppert, and he is probably most famous for having owned the Yankees during Babe Ruth’s run with the team.
Ruppert tore the old mansion down and constructed a rather hideous Queen Anne monstrosity in its place.
One of Ruppert’s descendents left that monstrosity to a very small order of Roman Catholic nuns – the Society of St. Ursula of the Blessed Virgin Order – who are based in (of all places!) Kingston across the river.
The nuns razed the mansion and built a modern spiritualist retreat.
If you wanna retreat there, you will have to pay the Big Buck$.
In my younger days, I might have characterized my feelings toward Tony as a mild crush. But now that the tyranny of hormones no longer cloud my perceptions, I’m able to see the connection for what it really is: We are not strangers. I know him from somewhere. Possibly from some early incarnative sojourn on Planet Earth. Or Planet Trappist-D.