Imagine Storms

Dearest Rachel –

Another long night, another dream – or series of dreams – that might otherwise make sense except for the timing, the location, the cast, and the fact that I was constantly looking for my phone to take pictures of it all, only to find that it was nowhere near me (which, as you know, is so out of character for me) or that its battery life was drained down to practically nil. In other words, apart from everything about it, it almost made sense.

The setting seemed to be some hotel downtown, in midtown Chicago. I’m going to venture a guess that it was somewhere near the McCormick Place convention center, but if I were to reconstruct the building as it appeared in my mind, it probably wouldn’t look anything like any of the hotels down there. The convention itself was not unlike the anime conventions that we used to attend every year in both Rosemont and Iowa, but this had more of a business angle; this was for groups to come pitch their ideas to studios, in an effort to get them picked up for production in one market or another.

The first weird thing about it was that I was there with the team at my old job. Granted, this would’ve put me in a position as the subject matter expert over even the likes of Mohinder, but why any of them would be at something like this, as ours was the finance department of the company, and not having anything to do with art or marketing, is beyond me. Typical dream illogic, I suppose. I mean, the company was Japanese-owned, sure, but believe me, I was more into the culture than most of the expatriate executives (although there was the one executive secretary, who was a stereotypical ‘office lady’ type, who would occasionally inform me of the latest series coming out in Japan, so clearly she was on top of all that, but she was an outlier). That whole ‘mundane vs. exotic’ thing again, I suppose, coupled with the fact that upstanding members of Japanese society are supposed to leave that stuff behind them, just like kids are expected to grow out of comic books over here.

But, you know, even if it is ‘kid’s stuff,’ it’s still big business, because there’s still plenty of money to be made. Why else do conventions go on in real life, after all? Sure, they’re geared for fans, and there are a lot of volunteers that keep them running smoothly, but as Scrooge put it to Christmas Present, ‘there’s an awful lot of buying going on.’ And where there is money to be made, there will be businessmen out to make it. So, presumably, there we were.

Another weird thing was that, rather than having hotel rooms for each of us individually, we were all sharing the same very large room – actually, a penthouse suite, with an angular skylight looking out over the city (maybe I was imagining that we were lodging in the Doral building. The bed – if you could call it that – was wide enough to accommodate all ten or eleven of us without anybody being too uncomfortably close, but it was still weird. That, and the fact that the head of the bed was up against not a wall so much as a series of windows, overlooking the city in the opposite direction. This will become significant further on.

Of course, I don’t remember that we had anything in particular to pitch to any studio; no storyboards, no character designs, no ‘high concept’ plots. I mean, what did you expect? We’re accountants, Jim, not animators. But I don’t mind telling you, it was an elaborate shindig, complete with walls covered in artwork and signatures. I wouldn’t mind going to an event like this, if it existed somewhere. Wonder if something like this goes on up there; although, as I understand it, there’s probably very few from any nation’s entertainment industry where you are, I would imagine.

However, at some point during the event, there were something of a panic, as a huge storm was bearing down on Chicago. This might, in fact, be ripped from real life, as there were substantial storms in the upper Midwest, as well as others passing from Colorado to Tennessee and Kentucky, and ultimately dumping their snow onto places like Georgia and the Carolinas before turning north and covering the entire eastern seaboard en route to rendezvous with the storm cell further north. Essentially, we were the only major metropolitan area this week to not have gotten stuck in a blizzard.

But not in my dream. Oh no, we were going to get the full brunt of it, complete with a tornado in the middle of winter (hey, it can happen – I’ll bet you met a few Kentuckians from last December’s twister).

And so there we were, hunkered down in our room – which, if you think about it, would be singularly inappropriate for such a situation. Not only are we on the top floor of the building, making us uniquely susceptible to the ravages of this storm, but we are absolutely surrounded by windows, both behind us – even as we hole up on the bed – and obliquely above us in the form of the skylight. If the storm wants to get us, it has a target-rich environment with which to work. We are not going to survive this thing.

And, when you come down to it, we didn’t, since that’s about when I woke up. So I’m left shaking my head at what I just witnessed, rueing the fact that I couldn’t take any pictures to document it, but grateful that I really wasn’t in it at all.

So, how was your night, honey? Do you even have nights up there?

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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