The Great Flood

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Claremont is flooded. I don’t understand how this happened. I am chest-deep in water under a deeply overcast sky. All that is left of the Claremont Village are fragments of buildings protruding from the waters. Even the trees are gone. There are other people walking around in the water at some distance, here and there, each of them lost in a search. The mountains have disappeared as well. I am in the middle of an endless ocean, the silver smooth surface of the water extending as far as the eye can see in every direction, a liquid horizon all around. I recognize the archipelago of dilapidated ruins around me as the Claremont Colleges, ironically self-proclaimed Islands of Beauty, now nothing more than piles of rubble surrounded by a silent sea.

I start walking through the water, not sure of where I’m going. I am near the partially collapsed shingle roof of what was once a church, fragments of its once quaint wooden architecture now dark with moisture, the ruins of a spire sticking miserably out of the water like a forgotten hope. To my surprise, as I walk by it, I find my dog. Rose swims out through an opening in the broken spire to meet me. She is as happy to see me as I am to see her, swimming circles around me in joy. Her radiant whiteness is a welcome and uplifting sight in this grayscale nightmare. I don’t want her to swim away so I hold her. She feels big in my arms when I restrain her, but she stays there paddling the water softly and does not try to get away.

People call out to me from a distance, waving their hands. I hear them but there is a strange, muffled and increasingly louder noise in the air drowning out their voices. I tilt my head to hear better, try to decipher what they are screaming, but I can’t make out the words. The noise is turning into a roar. One terrified-looking man points to the north. I turn to see what he’s pointing at, and find my emotions flattened by awe…

Spanning the entire horizon, an immense wall of water approaches, shining like an enormous ripple on a sheet of polished steel. It is a tsunami of epic proportions, the likes of which humanity has never seen. I can see foam flying off its crest and sea birds riding the air wave in front of it as it gets closer, covering more and more of the sky every second. The realization is instantaneous: the endpoint of my human fate, the moment of complete annihilation, is here, and there is no escaping from it. Even if I survived the force of the crush, I could never swim my way to the surface in the chaos that will follow. I comprehend this so readily and on such a profound level that I accept it instantly. Death is on its way, and its utter inevitability leaves me at peace to enjoy the wondrous sight of its arrival.

But the dog in my arms has a different idea.

Rose’s eyes are fixed on the oncoming wave. It does not scare her. She is focused, determined. Suddenly I feel like I am looking at her for the very first time, and as I do, I am reminded of her true nature. Rose is a Labrador, a fisherman’s dog thinly disguised as a pet, a tight 70 pounds of lean muscle, head like a seal, tail like an otter, wrapped in a waterproof coat and equipped with the same webbed feet that enabled her distant Northern ancestors to swim tirelessly through freezing waters, making their way across tangled roots and floating seaweeds, helping their masters to drag fishing nets ashore. Rose, St. John’s dog, hears her genes calling out to her in the moment of truth and eagerly responds in kind. Her waterdog paws tread the water in nervous anticipation, like a racehorse held at the gate. Hold onto me, I’ll get us through this. The realization is at once surprising, humbling, and deeply moving. Tears cloud my vision as the truth of the moment is revealed: Rose is here to save my life.

Deafened by the approaching roar of the tsunami, I hold onto Rose, take a deep breath, and wait for the crush.

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From the Dream Journal
April 3, 2007

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