strange dream for strange times

I approached the airline ticket counter at least three times, holding aloft an object that looked like my cell phone only larger and encased in a heavy black canvas fabric.

The ticket agent was dressed in an ill-fitting uniform of sorts that looked like it was made from the same black canvas as my cell phone cover. She came out from behind the counter. “I wish to hell you would go ahead and buy your ticket.” She seemed exasperated, but there was an undertone of pleading.

“I have bought it. It’s on my phone . . . somewhere. I don’t know how to find it.” We stared at one another, then another passenger, a young man, walked up. “Take care of him,” I said. “I’ll be right back.”

I heard her say, “No. . .” — but I was gone.

~

I wasn’t driving the car nor was I a passenger. But I could see and experience everything. Maybe I was the car. There’s a weird thought.

The driver was a woman of an indeterminate age, maybe 45, plump, and somehow she seemed like an English woman from a different century. Ah, I know who she was. She was the head cook in Downton Abbey. You know, the one losing her sight.

She was driving quite fast in an ordinary sedan, and turned from the typical, simple streets of Pensacola into a different world. The street was more of a wide concrete boulevard. Her foot was heavy on the accelerator. Several large, three-story homes appeared on both sides of the road, capped by what could only be called a mansion at the end. It had a circular drive. Beyond it and on either side was water. The bay, I thought. All the buildings were made from the same dusty rose-gold brick. To one side, under a bright blue awning, a table was set for eight guests, one corner of the dazzling white tablecloth flapping in the wind. No people.

“Brakes!” I thought. “Brakes!”

She continued to bear down on the great house, but at the last moment executed a turn around the circle worthy of a Formula One racer and accelerated like a bat fleeing hell in the opposite direction. It was then I noticed several cars full of grim-looking men passing us, headed toward the jumping off place.

“Faster,” I wanted to urge her. “Faster.” I felt the danger; felt her impending death.

~

Back at the ticket counter, the same drab woman. “You again! Why haven’t you bought your ticket yet?”

doc

I think the thing he was most fascinated by was the bright blue, glowing geo-locator button on my jogging shoes. I mean, who wouldn’t be, right? Nice to know that even if I didn’t know where I was, theoretically somebody, somewhere did.

I had been pedaling across the curve of the earth in the middle of the night in a four-wheel type of cycle, going home to Mother. How in the world would I find her in the dark? And, oh by the way, she died in 1990 and I had never been able to find the real “her” in life and even less so in death — she was gone years before her heart stopped.

How did I get hurt and why was I at this bright outpost of an urgent care clinic? A little girl with dark hair and big glasses and bright black patent leather shoes shamelessly eavesdropped on my conversation with the young doc.

I kept asking him: who were the people who came to my house?

Dreams. Nonlinear. Nonsensical. I love them.

sandy

I waited too long to write last week’s dream. So many of the evanescent parts of it have floated away. But I am still left to wonder: why did my subconscious bring my old friend Patsy into my dreamscape?

Images from the dream are more like scenes from her real life, experiences I either saw or knew about as they were happening. So was it a dream or a series of memories?

We are sitting together on my piano bench at home, Buck and other guests milling about, visiting. Sandy is belting out an old Carol King line — pretty sure it was I feel the earth move under my feet while I accompanied her. She held a glass of wine in one hand and swore like a sailor in-between verses. Okay, so this was definitely a dream. I’ve played piano while she sang before, but it was a supper club of sweet Episcopalians and the songs were usually old Broadway or snippets from The Messiah. Sandy has a glorious contralto, the kind of singing voice I would like to have. I have near perfect pitch, but only thin squeaks come through my pipes.

I dreamed of Sandy sailing the Grand Loop with her ill husband and later hugging the shorelines and rivers of Florida when he was dying and they had to dock so he could rent a car and drive to one of several hospitals for another useless round of chemo. Maybe it wasn’t entirely useless. Maybe it bought him time. But my dream is of Sandy, nurse Sandy, giving him injections; Sandy, the game companion, her brittle bones fracturing time and time again when jarred by the sharp, hard wake of a rude boater and knocked into unforgiving surfaces. Betrayed Sandy.

Sandy’s blank look of shock when she first read her husband’s will and trust, then tears of heartbreak and later anger, as it sunk in that he put her financial well-being into a trust managed by a long-grown stepdaughter who behaved as though she had waited a long time to become Sandy’s overlord and was going to extract every ounce of suffering and pain left in this dear woman, not to mention impoverishing her in the process.

Sandy, kneeling for communion, praying at the rail, hands raised like a charismatic.

It’s been close to five years since Sandy’s husband died and her second time in hell began. But now, the lawyering is done, whatever could be salvaged has been, she lives in a sweet little house in a dear little town far from here, and has found a good life with friends and a gentle, funny man who truly adores her. I know this mingles dream and fact. But that fact is no dream, and I am grateful that the haunted look is gone from my friend’s beautiful gray-blue eyes.

dreams deferred

“Patsy” and “Doc” will have to wait. Luckily, I wrote down enough of the dreams when I first staggered out of bed yesterday morning to fix the memory in place. Buck and I spent most of yesterday preparing for and briefing some of our local officials on our property rights issue coming before the planning board February 4th. Today is for reading the fine print on some ancient scrolls (old meeting transcripts) and a luncheon of the Pensacola High School class of 1955, Buck’s graduating class and a group of folks I have come to love. I’m always the “babe” in the room because of my relative youth (only 68), but they seem to like me okay anyway. We meet at a little local Italian restaurant called Franco’s. They make a mean minestrone soup. Hang in there, Patsy and Doc. I’ll tell your story soon.

dream journal

At last. It happened last night the way it used to, way back when I was writing every day. I dreamed words, sentences, amazing images — a world. I’ve been sleeping too shallowly recently to dream at all. I’m still reeling. Still in the dream. Dreams, really. There were three, but I was only able to stagger out of bed and write and notes for two. The other, the first, is dim, fading. I doubt I can recover it. Of the two I remember, the first is “Patsy;” the second is “Doc.” I’ll post them later.

By the way, I attribute the restarting of dreams with the restarting of a daily writing practice. The words were so dry at first, like unused paint in a long-neglected tube. But they are beginning to feel a little more fluid, beginning to come from a deeper place. And now, dreams. A good and encouraging sign.

Dream Journal: Lost and Wandering

It’s become a theme. I’m in some crowded environment, often in a big city, sometimes another country. The dreams are always complicated, noisy, full of people and traffic. The setting changes but several things stay the same. Buck and I get separated. I either lose my phone or, more often, lose my understanding of how to use it (scary). I walk for miles. I wake up out of breath. I’ve dreamed variations of this scenario at least three times in the past year.

crack the dark world open

I dreamed last night of my long-dead father. One of those rare dreams I’ve learned to call a major gift.

Standing on a sidewalk at a busy intersection, I was waiting for a car or a bus or a taxi or something to take me somewhere. It was crowded. Lots of people. Many of them seemed to know me. They waved and shouted friendly greetings.

I remember adjusting the shoulder strap of my heavy bag that was filled with notebooks and sketch pads, craning my neck to look for my ride, when someone called out: “Wait! Don’t go yet. Your Daddy is coming to see you!”

My head snapped up and sure enough, a man who could not be anyone but W. T. Jones was striding through the crowded sidewalk, pulling off leather work gloves as he walked. His crack-the-dark-world-open brilliant smile went all the way to those flashing bright eyes that never left my face.

Before there was time to think or react or, thank God, wake up, I was wrapped up in those dear arms. “Baby girl!” he crooned, nearly waltzing me around, his joy my sunbeam path.

I awoke then and nearly sprang out of bed with energy and a smile, still feeling that loving affirmation from my sweet, long-missed Daddy.

In the dream, Daddy was slightly heavier than I remembered, still sun-browned with crinkles around his eyes and a light sheen of sweat as though he had just come off the construction site of one of his subdivisions in central Florida, circa 1964, the year his heart suddenly stopped.

Tough blow for a thirteen-year-old to lose her dad. My older brother was sixteen; our younger brother only nine. Mother was fragile and unbalanced. Tough all the way around. The lodge pole of our family structure was jerked away and the roof quickly fell in.

For weeks, now, I haven’t been sleeping well enough to dream, much less to remember a dream. Several hours have elapsed since the dream. I’ve walked to the gate with Lou, fed her breakfast, and brewed coffee.

Cutting strawberries and oranges for Sunday breakfast a few minutes ago, I laughed to realize I was whistling Daddy’s favorite song.

Roasted Boar’s Heads

Typing that title before coffee makes me feel a little queasy, but that’s what the dream was: three boar’s heads on my kitchen counter. In the dream, people were all around, talking, paying no attention to me, and I was focused on just how the hell I was going to cook these things. While I was brushing my teeth a few minutes ago, I realized the heads had been smoked (or something), because they weren’t, um, you know, bloody. They were dark, like smoked meat, and no hair or tusks, thank God for small favors.

That’s about all there was to it. A short-short dream clip. Aren’t dreams strange and wonderful, even when they’re grotesque?

Earlier in the week, a friend joined us on short notice for lunch. I ran up to the Publix grocery store before he arrived and picked up some Boar’s Head brand chicken salad, along with a pasta salad, spring greens, and fresh fruit.

Aha.