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Chapter 6: Writing Home

Dear Mother and Father,

I decided on the more scientific names for you, even though it might sound less affectionate than “Mom & Dad.” Be assured it’s not for declining affection. It’s because I’m trying to get everything as right as I can. I’m trying to be precise.

I have figured out that my job is really a lot more than my job. I’m actually copying down history as it happens, some of it in my own words but much of it in the actual words of the participants themselves. It isn’t hard to do, since the recording and voice interpretation programs do nearly all the work. But still, I’m in charge of it. I record everything that happens, nearly every conversation that matters, and a whole lot of my own observations.

And in the little dinghy office where we work, you’ll be proud to know that I’m emerging as a critical part of the action. When I got the job, it sounded like I was just something much less than a secretary. But all of the department heads in this project are in and out all day so that I’m just about the only one that’s usually in the office. Everybody asks me where everybody else is! Without me, they couldn’t find each other!

In all modesty, I should say that I’m not actually directing anybody’s activities, but I have a big hand in coordinating them. The truth is, in all modesty, that they couldn’t do without me!

You would not believe the air out here. We can see for a mile or more! Around our neighborhood at home, I can’t remember a time when I could see more than a city block for all the brown haze. I thought that was the natural state of affairs, but now, it’s kind of unbelievable. We can see things far far away!

The smells aren’t anything like at home, either. There is so much greenery here that it makes some kind of pollen or something that is always making us sneeze or wipe our eyes. The smell is kind of sharp, kind of aggressive – not like at home where the air is mostly sludge.
The heat here is different. It seems hotter because the sun falls right down directly on our burning skin. We wear hats and carry umbrellas, but we don’t have to dress up head-to-toe the way we did at home. The industrial wastes that burned us so bad at home and kept us half sick all the time aren’t even here. I guess the way to describe the ambiance out here is that it’s cruel and aggressive, but not malicious. A person could be really healthy in Amarillo.

We wear almost nothing, because it’s so hot. Shorts, bras, sandals and really big hats. Sun screen is really hard to get. Everybody warned me to stay out of the sun and I did, the best I could. I turned a little bit pink and I seem to be staying that way. Everybody else is deeply tanned. Commissioner Leo Torres is really dark.

You might have thought that we, being an important new government project, would have some luxuries. We don’t. We work sunup to sundown, like everybody else, and never get cooled off. When I left home, they were talking about people getting some lighting in their houses, but it hasn’t happened here.

Also, I don’t think we’d get any luxuries even if they were available, because of the boss.

I think I’m one of the few people in the whole world who actually knows Leo Torres. Everybody, at least everybody my age, has heard of him, of course, but your daughter is one of the few on a first-name basis with him. He’s the revolutionary’s revolutionary. I like to think all the leaders are just like him, or a lot like him. He wouldn’t take special treatment, or let the staff have special treatment, even if he could.
He’s a quiet man. He’s in charge here even though he isn’t one of the technically trained people. He represents the revolution and we’re all working for the revolution, both the high and mighty and the little folk like me. Nobody on the staff questions him, but local people do. In fact, they seem to come in almost every day with some complaint or another. He has me record these conversations.

What’s kind of unusual is the way he handles everything. It’s sort of like he is just handing these complainers over to me, as if I were the Complaints Department or something. He lets people know that I write things down and send them on up the ladder to somebody more important. I think he does that because it takes some of the urgency out of his own role in the conversation. He just listens to people and rarely comments.
After people have wound down, after they have spewed all the anger into my recording devices, he just thanks them and goes back to his desk. I have yet to see him argue with anybody. I’m not sure if it means he agrees with the complainants or if he doesn’t. I think he’s just ducking the issues. Either that, or, possibly, even though I hate to even think it, he just doesn’t care!

So, I’ve been telling you about this place and how I’m affecting it. Now I want to try to tell you how it’s affecting me.
I was a child through the revolution. I knew, because you knew and because you couldn’t keep it from me, that humanity was moving close to extinction. I knew about the rising water levels, the barely breathable air, the accumulating wastes everywhere, and the chaos and corruption of our former “leaders.” I was all for the revolution as soon as it became clear to me that it was possible.

But now, I am part of it. I’m actually working on one important aspect of the many social problems that have to be solved. I have a totally different understanding of who I am, but I don’t know what to do about it?

I find myself trying to act like Commissioner Torres, even though it’s completely unsuitable to me. I find myself trying to get through the hours without speaking. I argue with myself, though, that my job is speaking and listening, so I don’t get very far with the silent July Eason. How should I dress? How do I greet people? Do I still wear cosmetics, as you taught me, or should I go for some kind of ascetic look? Do I brush my hair and try to look pretty, or should I put it into a bun and try to look severe? Should I wear glasses?

Don‘t panic, I won’t share my perplexities about sex with you because you are my parents and might freak out. But let it be said, at least, that I really don’t know what to do. How does one act when one is a revolutionary in the first revolution of generations? Does one figure out what others are doing and try to emulate? Or does one blaze new trails through all the matters of behavior?

I just re-read the first part of this message, and I can see part of my problem at the message’s end. More and more, I am seeing myself as of growing importance in this project and in the revolution itself. Instead of looking for role models, I’m becoming one. Other people are probably looking to me with the same kinds of questions I have. There are no answers because, for centuries, there have been no questions! I’m looking at everybody else, but they’re looking at me!

With continuing love and devotion
Your Daughter
July

 

--July Eason, Project Archivist

 

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