I have my own UFO story.
Here’s the background. It happened on a Spring Break trip.
I hung out with two guys from my wing in the dorm for the better part of a year. Dan was lean, lithe and a chatty, lively charmer. Girls liked him. He wore all sorts of eccentric outfits, often carried a golf club and suffered from manic depression. Chris was a perfect foil to him. Tall, broad, brown haired and saturnine, he was slow and steady to Dan’s quicksilver flights. He rarely spoke. Kind of a Caucasian Chief Broom, the character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
(Come to think of it, I wonder if there’s an alchemical guide of relationships written someplace by a 13 century Czech magician on or something? Because those two, you could see the pattern).
It was a boring semester. I had earned enough over the summer and the fall semester that I didn’t have to work, for once. I’d changed majors, too. As a theatre major, you’re busy 19 hours a day if you’re at all serious. So the sudden vacuum felt huge.
And we were always looking for action in a random, directionless and often stupid way. Road trips, drugs, stupid car tricks, endless hours trying to get laid.
Spring break rolled around, and there was no way we were staying in town. There was also no way we’d plan anything. Chris, I think, suggested Padre Island, off the Texan coast. We’d drive his Pinto in shifts, make the trip there in two days, hang, then come back. This was before Padre Island blew up into a low rent version of the Florida spring breaks they like to show on MTV.
I don’t want to indulge in some kind of Hunter S. Thompson wannabe description of the debauchery. It was relatively usual for the time and place, but you should know that brain chemistry was altered. It was sped up. It was slowed down. Visions and profound insights into each other’s souls were discovered.
We had no money. We slept on the beach one night and were eaten alive by some kind of sand flea. After that, we put down the back and curled up on the hatchback’s floor.
We lived on powdered donuts, beef jerky and orange juice. We burned some hot dogs, once. Otherwise, we were in a state. Details escape me. I remember bikinis, stars, the surf, sunburns, Dan’s stench, Dan’s getting laid, sunshine, sand castles.
This is a long way of saying that none of us were in a particularly lucid state for the drive home. Chris, who had incredible stamina, was driving. We zoomed along on a two-lane highway, between Alamogordo and Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
|photo by wim wenders|
Pretty much the entire state of New Mexico teems with visions, ghosts, strange prehistoric demons. The landscape is straight out of surrealist paintings. Even the most aggressive materials feels something in the place. At night, the magic gains weight and potency. The stars are often spookily bright, and, to city eyes, there are too many.
The three of us were awake at once, somehow. I rode shotgun, Dan was in the back rattling on about whatever.
And above the road, in this twisted shadowy valley, two bright lights whooshed over us, hovered, stayed with the Pinto, then disappeared. A heavy sense of menace smothered me so that I could barely speak. I felt as if all the light and life had been sucked out of me by something so dense and dark that I would never be happy again.
Dan, on the other hand, was out of his head with joy.
A UFO, he kept saying, a fucking real UFO. You guys saw it, right?
Chris nodded his head. It was a fucking UFO. Now don’t talk about it again.
I worked out my despair by arguing. We spent, in fact, the rest of the trip arguing about what we saw and whether we should tell anyone.
Dan, of course, did tell anyone who would listen. This disgusted Chris. They had a kind of bro breakup, and didn’t speak to each other for a few weeks.
People believed or chose not to believe according to their character and their tolerance for Dan. After some sleep and some regular food, I recovered from that horrible ache that I’d felt on the highway.
I spent some time puzzling over that sudden and overwhelming emotion. It could've been something else. An animal reaction to the heavy tech deployed by the nearby air force base. An usual flavor of fear.
Or maybe involuntary communion with a really sad alien.
It might only have been a kind of psychic burp from all the things we’d ingested.