Am I Ephemeral?
Dreamed 2006/7/6 by Wayan
My housemate Alder is running late; she asks me to drop her off at work. I grumble but do it. On the way home, I stop at a grocery. In the parking lot, a guy comes up to me and says "Please listen to me--I'm not a beggar" and launches into a blurted, confusing sob story, and then hits me up for cash. I feel furious, slam my car door and drive off. Feel guilty--he may really have been in need, I wasn't sure--but he lied up front. If he'd just asked for spare change I might have given it.
Oh, no wonder I'm so snappish--I'm running a fever! A relapse of this mystery virus I have. Fever, chills, headache...
Later I shop for an energy-efficient clothes washer for our cooperative house. Find only energy pigs and annoying salesmen. Frustrating.
Next buy pants at a thrift store without a changing room, but they're so cheap I buy three pair based only on their measurements--waist and inseam. At home I find only one really fits. The new low-waist style requires different numbers! My waist hasn't changed, but it's higher up than these pants are built for. I'm shaped like bodies in Northern European paintings around 1400 than anything modern--skinny-hipped, high-waisted.
Last stop! I want tortillas, but every brand at the corner store has additives. I get fruit instead. In line, an old woman argues about cheese forever. When I finally walk out with two mangos, it feels like a big achievement. About all I've managed today...
I live in a colony of long-lived aliens in Dzungaria, Central Asia. I think of them as strictly Central Asian, but realize while making a report that they ("we" as I first wrote) have one or two travelers--agents--in every region of the Old World, though the Americas are uncovered. I wonder why?
They're not recent settlers or observers; been here since 1400. And since it's now 2250, that's 850 years! But even that's only long enough for their few Earth-born kids to have reached adolescence. In fact the whole colony is a weird mix of adolescent and superhumanly mature, due to their profoundly different sense of time.
I've been helping them for years--most of my life? But that's nothing to them! Intellectually I realize my loyalty and affection may not be reciprocated, for to them I'm ephemeral, just a human hired for a short-term job: my lifespan.
But... am I human? Have I been traveling among humans so long I've forgotten what I am? Suddenly I'm not sure. And it matters. Who you love depends on who'll be around--including you.
How can you know where to invest your heart if you don't know what lasts?
Is this what humans faced, as lifespans lengthened and faith in an afterlife faded? Subjectively, human life both lengthened and shortened simultaneously! No wonder they're so confused.
I should talk! Confused? I said they. Should it be we? I don't even know what species I am.
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