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Chapter 24

In the dark, I rode for nearly an hour.  I stopped in a grand book store for a while, then stopped and landed on the street in downtown Otoyk.  Some say it is easiest to live on the surface when you live in the center of a city.  I say it is easiest to live on the surface when you recognize the place you live as the center of a city.  Either way, I only landed for a short while.  I met friends and we clinked glasses of dark foreign beer.  It was a Nacerima style bar with peanuts, stools, and high tables.  I soon set out again, riding into the dark.

Eventually I landed at a small space station dangled above the forests, mountains, and rivers of Otoyk.  My friend met me at the landing pad where travelers were refueling their vehicles.  We walked through concrete and plastic tubes to "The Village."  A few young people sat on the balcony peering out at the dark sky above, planet below, and steel bubble in between.  They welcomed us with a smile, "take it easy, enjoy..."

The entrance was dark and dim, but loud music echoed out.  A cluster of people stood about in the shadows, talking under the music.  Four artists stood crouched around a large frescoed tablet.  They were painting to the music, and we all watched.  The painting, brilliantly lit, took various shapes and designs over time.  Artists switched topics, areas, colors.  Sometimes they sat on couches, sometimes they spoke to guests.

I spoke for a while to a carpenter-architect who knew the Nacerima language.  He designed and built the interior for "The Village."  He showed me a nook with rounded earthen walls, reed mats, a low wooden ceiling, and an alcove for flowers and seasonal artwork.   As this party showed, his spot was a hit with the guests.

Now, he is working on a treehouse project.  "There are no restrictions on treehouse architecture in Nohin," he said, "no regulation."  He and his friends have complete freedom as designers.  I imagined the treehouse: high up, but still attached to nature, a place to meet, a place to play, a place to a share a moment.

"The Village" reminds me of a city I lived in back in Nacerima.  Both were full of young people, together searching for a way to live on the planet, a way down from space.  "We want to live close to nature!" the architect said.

But, ironically, "the Village" is an orbiting thing.  Or perhaps, it is like the treehouse, close to the tree, close to the soil, but still above it, still escaping the laws and rules of the planet below.  If the world is full of treehouses then what will be left on the ground below?  If we fly from tree to tree, then everything beneath the tree slowly erodes until finally, the tree falls.

After the show, I glided back home through space, high above Otoyk.  If I had walked on the surface, it would have taken me all night to plod back through the sleeping city.