Tue, 15 September 2009 - 6:24 pm

Temporary

The Seekers are being slowly pulled apart at the edges.

It seems that none of us are working the kitchens any more. Tia has been moved to a cleaning crew, keeping the dorms livable. Jersey now works in sanitation. I’ve hardly seen either of them, apart from at night when we pile into our bunks. I haven’t seen the boys since that time at dinner.

I caught up with the ex-Wolverine today. She’s more unhappy than I’ve ever seen her. I’d say that she’s close to a dangerous depression, except that she tends to vent her frustrations on everyone else rather than aiming it at herself. She was only too ready to unload on me when I asked her how she was doing.

She’s helping out with the water recycling, which sounds like a good thing until she mentions where they get the water to recycle. The sewage system here has been hooked up to a treatment vat, which then feeds back into everything else. No wonder the water here tastes a little strange – it was one of those things that we never thought to question, too glad that there’s water to drink in the first place.

Of course, my first thought was to wonder why they didn’t allow us to wash anything, if they could recycle the water we used. I guess they have their reasons. I think that was my brain trying to get past the revulsion.

“I spent the whole day breathing in other people’s shit,” Jersey was saying. “Only not the bitching and the whining – the real stuff.” She paused in her methodical stabbing of her food to look at me. “Do I smell of it? I can’t even tell any more.”

I paused and tried to filter the scents in the room. Smell isn’t one of the senses that I pay a lot of attention to any more. I used to be so concerned about it, always wearing perfume and making sure I was clean. Now, everyone is unwashed, stained, soiled. Dirty and grimy and a little bit over-ripe. The latrines positively hum with their burden of scent – some of the ‘sewage system’ is a series of buckets that need to be emptied regularly. I’m so inured to the everyday stink that it’s not easy to pick up other things, and it’s never a good idea to breathe too deep in a room full of people and questionable food. .

“No,” I told her. It seemed like the safest answer.

She grunted and forced down a few mouthfuls. “You know, they usually give out latrine duty as a punishment. So how come I got stuck there? I didn’t do anything. One more day of this shit and I’m going on strike.”

I told her that they probably had a shortage of naughty hands and just needed the help. Neither of us really believed it but who wants to rock the boat? She’s doing as she’s asked under sufferance, but at least she’s doing it. I don’t know what will happen if she refuses to work. Something tells me that they won’t appreciate it. Stick with it, I told her. It won’t be forever. Temporary.

That’s what this place feels like to me – a step to something else. But we’re not going anywhere, not moving towards anything; we’re all working to maintain what we’ve got right here. Maybe that’s why I can’t settle: I can’t resolve the contradiction that underlies Haven. So many promises, so much work to do, but so few real answers until you go down to look in the creepy basement.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t have a place yet. I feel part of nothing, separated from my friends and superfluous. The infirmary doesn’t need me and everyone else is okay. Haven would get along fine without me.

I can’t tell if this is my own selfishness talking, or if this is how Haven wears us down. Today, I looked at Jersey considering rebellion and wondered.

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