Across the Universe
Whenever I came home from school on breaks or vacations it would always be a surprise as to how things had evolved or changed. On one trip home my parents had to get a new refrigerator that was delivered in a large heavy reinforced cardboard packing container; an ordinary life event that I paid cursory attention to.Big deal. So mom and dad got a new refrigerator.
When I went back to school the box was out by the road for the garbage men to take away. At the same time however one of the stranger things that had evolved was the relationship between my mother and a neighbor who lived across the street, Naomi.
After she left the Catholic Church my mother did not stop being religious. She simply made up a personalized surrogate one that took the best elements of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism by combining them into a diverse package. She took over the basement playroom, turned it into a shrine where she worshipped Jesus, believed in karmic recycling of life and also began to meditate transcendentally while she played protestant hymns or Statler Brothers gospel tunes on a tape player.
Naomi, who was still in the vulnerable period of grieving over a son, who had died in a car wreck, joined her in these rituals, making the new little church a spectacular congregation of two.
The re-birth thing however got to be a bit annoying because the two women began to believe that not only themselves, but also everyone else they knew or had ever known had been recycled from especially but only notable characters from history. I got sick and tired of my mother telling me I was really Copernicus.
But the thing that made me believe she had finally gone off the deep end was that she had surreptitiously moved the large cardboard refrigerator shipping box down into the basement shrine.
I came home on another school vacation to find the thing in the middle of the room next to a little alter covered with candles, flowers and miniature pictures of Jesus and Buddha.
- Mom. Why is the cardboard refrigerator box in the middle of the room?
- That’s my materialization chamber
- A what?
- A materialization chamber.
- What is that?
- Well. When Naomi comes over either I get in it or she gets in it and whoever is outside turns out the lights, puts on the candles, plays the music and meditates while the person inside meditates too as she takes an astral trip across the universe. Our bodies dematerialize and travel everywhere; then our bodies return and reassemble. It’s a totally fulfilling experience.
- Oh. And how long does that take, where do you go, what do you see and what do you do there?
- Maybe an hour or so. And the rest of it just depends. You should try it yourself.
- That’s OK mom. Unless you can send me back to school so I don’t have to drive the nine hundred miles. You know, like “beam me up Mr. Scot.”
- That’s sacrilegious.
That was where I had to let the conversation dangle because truthfully there was little else I could say. I kept thinking it might have been better if she and Naomi had just gotten their thrills by becoming lesbians. At least that would be something tangible that I could explain to my friends.
I also wondered if my father had the slightest clue as to what was going on while he was at work. But all of it was so ridiculous I never even bothered to ask him because if history rang true enough to repeat itself, the point would easily have been moot.
- Dad. You mean you never wondered why a cardboard refrigerator box is in the middle of the basement.
- What? It is?
When I brought the subject up to my brother thirty years later asking him if he remembered it or what he had thought about it, he told me the materialization chamber was the best thing that had happened to him when he still had to live at home because that was where he went to smoke pot or jerk off. He said it was as good a hiding place for both activities as anywhere else in the house. That is not unless one of the many gods or prophets from the Pantheon or some strange visitor from another world happens to pop in and spoil the party.
Or worse, what if Naomi had one of these things herself and your own mom got herself beamed home because she just didn’t happen to feel like walking across the street, then suddenly materialized next to you while you were smoking a joint and playing with your pecker.
Words are flying out like
Endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They make their way across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my open mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world