Adrian Poulter

Nine years ago, I had been sitting in this very booth, dreaming of finding a way to this moment, now.The connection was so strongly felt, the idea of retrocausality bobbed into my mind.Could it be that this moment now was also present in that moment back then?Was I now drawing that past event toward this moment?I basked in these fleeting feelings of wonderment.The lamps on the ceiling, the blinds all scrunched up at the top of the windows, the guys at the counter with their backs to me.The Olympics rising up above the evergreen trees.I didn’t know the name of the particular mountain I was looking at.It could be Mount Olympus, the largest of them all.Everything was lashed together.Did I have any of this in mind in any explicit sense when I drank coffee all night with Joe and marveled at the majesty of the Olympics in the morning light?It was not in my mind.The dreams back then were woven into this experience now.The equations governing the origin of the universe had ushered in this moment.That’s why we drank coffee all night and poured our hearts out.To take the next step on a journey that led to this breakthrough now.Narrows of the Salish SeaThe new task was to focus our seminar on Dyson’s intuition concerning a form of intelligence that permeated the universe.I knew Sheldon would resist.I would have to persuade him that this was an immense opportunity.We would be doing for Dyson what Alexander Friedman had done for Einstein.Our seminar would provide the mathematical bones and sinews for Dyson’s hunch that the universe knew we were coming. Dyson himself could probably get to the mathematical structures before us, but he had lost interest in that line of research.I could tell Shel that maybe the East Coast was too parched to support such a radically new vision of the universe.It was left to us to push it forward by providing the mathematical structures of a cosmic, primordial intelligence.We would be offering the world an original relation with the universe.Normally I would do anything short of outright lying to get out of such drudgery, but as soon as he asked me I knew this was it.He hated any distractions that pulled him away from his mathematics just as much as I did, so he would appreciate my offer.Maybe he would even get excited about the plan.The morning of moving culminated in the effort of lifting the washer and dryer into the back of his blue Oldsmobile station wagon.It got worse on the drive.As I sat in the front seat, Sheldon explained in breathtaking detail the physiological processes by which the carbon monoxide in the car was mutilating tiny fibrils of our central nervous systems, probably reducing our intelligence by some fraction of a percent.The problem was the window in the back end of his station wagon would not close all the way.The minor vacuum created by the station wagon’s movement sucked the exhaust up from the pipe into the car and then the minor vacuum created by our diaphragms sucked the neurotoxins into our lungs.I hated the thought that I was destroying even a tiny part of my brain.To escape the fumes, I rolled down the window to get fresh air, but Sheldon insisted this only made things worse.For now the air inside the car was drawn out of my cracked window and this created an even more powerful sucking action that drew in even more exhaust from the back.I didn’t have the emotional strength to demand he stop the car and let me out.So there I was, participating in my degeneration, but at least I knew why.I was doing this to stay in close relationship with Sheldon so I could move forward in my life as a mathematician.The immense Douglas firs were so impenetrable on each side of the road you could only see a few feet into the tangle of green branches before it was entirely dark.We came to a place where the wall of trees on the right side had been removed entirely, and we turned onto the new dirt driveway.The construction crew had only recently finished their work.Stumps of a dozen trees were piled up to one side, waiting to be burned.A wooden plank had been set up in front of the garage and was covered with butcher paper in an attempt to keep the dirt from being tracked inside.This would be the moment to spring my idea on him.He pulled open one of the two vertical doors of the refrigerator and poured two glasses of lemonade.It felt contrived to be served by him.It made obvious our overly abstract relationship.Nothing like this had happened before.As I sipped the cold drink and wondered how I would bring up the Dyson idea, I was stunned by the view.The living room ran the entire width of the house with a wall of windows looking across the swirling waters of the Puget Sound.From this perspective, Tacoma disappeared into a dark green forest stretching across the horizon.The evergreen trees bunched up at the shores of the Puget Sound as if they were the front soldiers of a vast army whose ranks began fifty miles east on the slopes of the Cascade Range.Scattered houses could be seen where the trees had been cleared, but it was even yet a continuous temperate rain forest from Point Defiance in the north down to Day Island directly across from us with a dozen fishing boats and scows tied to docks and then, farther south, the town of Steilacoom just visible on the horizon.All of it swooped into me and I felt elevated by this beauty but simultaneously disturbed that this view was not mine.It came as a jolt to my consciousness that Sheldon, who was only five years older, had somehow managed to buy a place like this.I was flabbergasted.It was especially difficult to imagine because I was still in my graduate student mindset.

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