Grappling with Dreams

My recent series of dreams have involved structures and family. Two that stand out were about my father and my in-laws.

The dream about my father had bronze red overtones to everything. We were underground, in a cave. Alive (as he is), he was selecting his coffin and burial site. His burial site was a strange building. It had been some sort of business. I was asking him, “This is where you want to be buried?” It seemed so bizarre to me.

Dad barely took notice of my question. He was busy organizing his burial process and closing the deal for the building. Passing out leaflets (which were red), he told me, “You’re one of the pallbearers but you won’t be carrying me.”

I said, “Where is this place?” Someone pointed out a map on wall. I went over to the map and studied it, determining that it was on the California-Nevada border. Knowing where it was, I stepped outside to see it. I discovered I was standing on top of a hill. Below was a huge quarry operation. Shaped in a circle or oval, it was miles wide.

“This is a mine,” I said, looking for Dad. “Why would you want to be buried in a mine?”

The dream ended.

The next night, I dreamed that I was visiting with my sister-in-law and her husband. Other relatives from my wife’s side were present, as was my wife. My mother- and father-in-law have both passed away, and we were at their old home. Only this home was nothing like their home.

Everyone was turning to me and saying, “What should we do with this?” The house was like an faintly familiar maze of rooms and additions. I told everyone, “We need to determine what we have.” Everyone agreed to that, but asked, “How?”

I said, “Well, first, we’ll need to explore.”

Officials came up to us to talk about the house and our plans. I told them of my plan, and they approved. They then said that I should contact a specific person. While he was a teammate, we’d never been close and he was a year behind me. “He’ll certify the findings for you,” the officials said.

I agreed to do that. Then I began leading the family around the dwelling. I said, “I’m going to turn on light switches. Everyone watch to see what lights up. We need to open every door and find every switch.” All agreed.

I did as planned. Whenever I opened a door, I’d find the switch and turn on the lights. Surprising reveals followed. Old rooms and additions that we didn’t know about were revealed. Some were old offices, with filing cabinets and seats. Although old, they showed signs of recent use. Scenes like this, of different rooms that we didn’t know about, happened again and again.

Finished, we went outside. My sister-in-law’s husband came up to me. He said, “Now you know what we faced. Not so easy, is it?” He was laughing, and agreeing, I laughed, too.

Studying the house, I said, “I never knew that it looked like this.” It was a sprawling, eclectic design of multiple levels. Many were new and some were old. As I looked at it, I said, “I know what to do.”

The dream ended.

I’ve dreamed about these in-laws a few times in the past two weeks. In other dreams, I was driving them. I’ve dreamed about my wife’s parents’ home numerous times in the past few years, but the dream and home were always different. The commonality is always that the house surprises me, I’m exploring it, and everyone is looking at me to decide what to do.

 

Tuesday’s Theme Music

It was inevitable, I guess, that the deaths of Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek that their music would jump into my mental stream of sound. Today found Eddie Money’s “Shakin'” (1982) in the stream.

My wife’s movement invited “Shakin'” in. She loves music and dancing, and happened to start dancing, moving around and snapping her fingers last night, with an expression lit with happiness.

 

Dark and Stormy Dreams

Last night was a serene, cool night but wild storms were on the dream menu.

One dream began with me outside, on a worn but mostly green hillock. I think I was in a park, as copses of trees grew around open spaces and statues.

Although bright afternoon blue associated with summer was overhead, dark clouds gathered, moving in like they were answering a whistle. People, including me, were anxious. Talking persisted all around me. All were strangers, though, and I couldn’t understand exactly what they were saying.

I was thinking that I needed to get inside and safe before the storm broke but I was worried about my friends and family. I was also puzzled; I didn’t see any of them but I was certain that they’d been with me. Looking for them, I became frantic as the temperature dropped and the clouds darkened into a fresh charcoal briquette darkness.

I started walking fast. Others were running. Growing drumming like a drum and bugle corp was approaching announced the storm’s beginning. Lightning licked from north to south in long and spectacular prolonged, brilliant slashes, captivating and frightening me. With a sharp suddenness, a wind howled through, knocking me over. After rolling and tumbling, I struggled against the wind to stand.

I heard rain hammering the ground. A deluge like a fire hose was being sprayed began. As lightning struck trees and thunder shook the air and explosions boomed, the wind tossed and slammed me, eventually shoving me against a tree trunk. Arching with pain, soaked and cold, I managed to hang onto the tree as the wind tore my clothes and hair. I was shivering with cold and fear.

With lightning striking everywhere around me, I thought, I can’t stay here. I need to get out of here. Nothing was visible for the heavy rain and dim light. I didn’t know where to go. Desperate for movement, I struck out blindly.

The wind drove me forward and then lifted me. I tried grabbing the ground but the wind took me on a ride toward the trees. As I spun and spotted the looming branches, I was sure that I was going to be impaled and killed, but the wind carried me above the trees.

In seconds, I was out of the storm. The wind calmed but still carried me. Feeling its energy dissipating, I was sure I was going to plummet to the Earth and die. As I looked down to see where I’d land and  what I could do about it, I realized that I was over the storm, and flying above it. 

A cat hissing awoke me then. Scrambling out of bed to confront the situation, I saw that Boo was telling Papi that he couldn’t come in through the pet door. Boo ran out of the room and down the hall and Papi sallied in. Since I was up, I went to pee and think about the vivid dream, as my mind stayed wrapped in it.

It’d been a shockingly vivid dream.

Five Times Too Many

It’s a sad situation; a neighbor ran over their cat while parking, the fifth time in my life that a friend or neighbor ran over their cat. 

This victim was a cat, but it can happen with children, dogs, and other animals and people. The situation begins with a routine, complacency, and an assumption: “He/she is always there. I expected them to move. They always did.” That assumption is a killer.

His name was Buddy. He was a small, elderly black cat. Probably weighed seven pounds, but had the voice of a lion. He was sweet, trotting over to me for a treat and a scratch when I came out to do yard work or go check the mail.

I wasn’t present when Buddy met his demise. The woman’s three elementary school-age girls were.

The temp was in the nineties. Maybe Buddy was hot or ill, or deeply asleep. Like each of the other four situations, Buddy didn’t move as he usually does.

Such accidents and deaths can be avoided. Don’t assume. Get the visuals. Take the time to confirm the cat’s location. Confirm that he moved.

It’s already happened five times too many to my friends and neighbors during my lifetime. Please learn from Buddy.

Something Fundamental

His head was down against the silvery sunshine heat. Walking along, he looked up to orient his course and spotted Doctor Frank further up the white cement sidewalk.

He literally froze where he was. His heart beat – he felt it – but a shocked stupor held him stiff. Doctor Frank had died two months before. This had to be a doppelganger. He’d heard or read that everyone has an exact replica of themselves elsewhere on the world. This was the most perfect one he’d ever seen. The man was just like Doctor Frank, the biologist, in every aspect from his impish, good-natured expression, gray and white beard, and slender-as-a-broom frame to the outdoor pants, boots, and vest that were Doctor Frank’s regular attire, including the forest green bush hat.

He snapped out of it. The result put him up the sidewalk past where he’d spotted Doctor Frank, as if he’d never stopped. His head swooned. Pausing to regain control of his senses, he saw Q across the street, waiting to cross.

Now that was fucking impossible. Q’d died four years ago. Like Doctor Frank, doppelganger Q was an eerie ghost of his deceased friend. As he wondered what the what, he saw his mother-in-law, Jean, dead for the last two years, off to the left, with her husband, Carl, who’d been dead since 1992. 

“Holy shit,” reverberated through his mind and came out his mouth. “What’s going on?”

In a blink, he realized all the color had deserted the world, as though he was watching a movie on an old black-and-white television. Closing his eyes to recover, he gasped; with his eyes closed, he could see everything taking place in color, except the dead folk that he saw weren’t there.

Slowly, he cracked his eyes open and took in the monochrome world. The sound differed from before. Swiveling his head, he saw more dead friends and relatives. It wasn’t his beloved hometown any longer, until he closed his eyes. With eyes closed, color was restored, and he was in the town where he’d been living and walking.

Keeping them closed, he resumed his walk. That seemed to work, but it was a temporary solution. Something fundamental had changed in his world.

He was going to have to open his eyes again sometime. And then…

He shook his head. He was going to keep his eyes closed until he was home. And then —

Well, he’d see.

The Thief

The thief isn’t death – we’re all going to die —

the thief is the decline that robs us of time.

The thief burgles memories

and steals our wit,

the thief is the disease that rots our bodies

and makes us sick.

The thief embezzles our energies and usurps our pride,

darkens our vision and makes hope a lie.

It takes our hearing and corrupts our senses,

builds up walls and creates new fences.

We look out from within and they look in from without,

both of us wondering,

does anyone know what life is about?

 

Escape

“Escape”, said big, gold letters on the window. 

Don had never seen the place. The turnover in this town… Yes, he needed an escape. The heat was over a hundred. How far over a hundred? Did it matter? It felt like his shoes on melted onto his feet. Sweat dropped from his face and dizziness spun his head. He needed immediate escape from this heat, He could get some by browsing through this place.

Blissful cool air gushed over him as soon as he stepped inside. The business was laundry room small and almost empty. One round, white table was to the left. On it was a display of brochures.

He wandered to them. “Hi, Don,” a woman said.

Don nearly jumped out of his skin. Finding her sitting in the corner across the room, he shook his head. “Were you there when I came in?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. I didn’t see you. Sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

“And…how did you know my name?”

She smiled. “That’s not important.”

“It is to me.”

“What’s important is that you realized that you need to escape and came in here.”

“Yeah.” Don flicked his gaze from the left to the right. “Right. Actually, I came in here because I needed to escape the heat.”

“Would you like water?” Unfolding from her chair, she gestured to her right where a round white table was home to a crystal pitcher of water and several glasses. Cucumber slices floated among ice cubes.

“I would, thank you.” While saying that, Don took the two steps to reach the table. She was there first.

A glass was being offered as he arrived. “Thanks. You’re quick. You never answered my question.” Drinking, Don watched her reaction. A dark green satin-looking top hung to mid-thigh, giving him the impression of a praying mantis. Young with skin like smoky honey, long black hair and a narrow face, she was an inch taller than him. She probably weighed ninety pounds. After a second glance, he changed that to eighty pounds. He could probably enclose her waist with his two hands.

“You didn’t ask, but I’ll answer. We’re an escape from anything and anywhere.”

Don lowered his glass. “I’m not certain what that means.”

“Yes, you do. Accept it. You know.”

Enough, Don decided. “Well, I’ve taken up enough of your time.” He put the glass down on the table. “Thanks for the water. I’ll be on my way.”

She nodded. “This way.” She slipped past him toward an archway that he hadn’t noticed. Strands of green beads hung over the doorway. She parted the beads with a long hand with glossy white fingernails. “Your train awaits.”

“My train. You’re saying that there’s a train in there?” Don stepped forward to see as she answered, “Yes.”

Don poked his head through the beaded divide. There was a train. It wasn’t a toy, but a full-sized train. “Holy smokes. There is a train in here.” Entranced, he approached the train. Modern looking, it was silver with blue and red stripes. “I love trains. I’ve never been on one, though. I mean, a real one, like this.”

He stepped closer to it. He was on a platform. The train went for hundreds of yards in either distance. Beyond it, a pristine countryside greeted his tired vision.

“So, what’s going on?” He looked back for the woman. Didn’t see her, nor the green beads.

A uniformed conductor approached. “Hi, Don. I’m Geoffrey.” He put a hand out. “You okay? You look confused.”

Don shook Geoffrey’s hand. “I guess I am. I don’t know how I got here. I mean, I know what I did, but what I did doesn’t fit the context of what I see.”

“I see.” Geoffrey laughed. “Sorry. That was unintentional.”

Don tilted his head to one side. “So. Let me be straightforward. Have I died?”

“No. You wanted an escape. We’re offering it to you.”

“This is real.”

“Absolutely.”

“What’ll happen if I get on that train?”

“You’ll escape, which is what you want. You’ll escape this life and this world.”

“Where will I go?”

“That’s completely up to you.”

Don smiled. “That’s not really an answer. Yes, those are words, but they’re not an answer to what I’m asking.”

“It is. You know it is. Let yourself think about it.”

Don shook his head. “I don’t like airy-fairy new age stuff. I fight wildfires. I like solid information.”

Geoffrey shrugged. “You need to get onboard now, if you’re going.”

“What if I don’t? Can I just go back?”

“Of course.”

“Is this a one-way ticket? Can I ever come back if I get on that train?”

“Of course. That’s completely up to you.”

Don had more questions but decided, take the train ride. See where it goes and what happens. He’d never been on a train. He giggled. “Okay, what the hell. Sold.”

Following Geoffrey’s gesture, he approached an open door and climbed aboard the train. Empty, comfy looking tan leather seats awaited him. A whistle blew as he settled into a seat. Looking down, he realized that he was a young man again.

“Well, what the hell.” The train pulled forward. Body sighing as he settled back, he watched the passing countryside through the window and wondered where he’d go, and what would happen to the people and places that he’d left behind.

Then he closed his eyes and let the train lull him to sleep.

 

 

For Her

The house was always silent except for his quiet and her cats. He was aware of how much he sighed, and the cats…the cats were always darting underfoot, jumping up onto the furniture, counters, and tables, and peering around corners.

Flowers and plants were everywhere. He’d told everyone to send money to her causes in lieu of flowers and that shit, but…well, here they were. Here he was.

She was always trying to get him to eat healthy. The ‘frig was lousy with salmon and salad ingredients. Sighing (but what else?), he prepared the salmon per the instructions, sharing some with the cats, who were enthusiastic in their enjoyment, and made a salmon Caesar salad and poured a glass of wine for himself. Eating, he told himself, for her, chewing and swallowing the despised flavors, washing it down with wine.

For her.

Days Like This

We all have them. For some, it’s a wretched slice of existence that never seems to end.

I feel for them, the people in war zones, and the disaster zones, or the immigrants hunting for safety and better lives, places where they can live without days like this.

For me, a day like this was planning to attend a friend’s memorial, reading the details via emails, then scooting off to another friend’s memorial service, and then returning to read another email that another friend passed away, ending her private war on cancer.

Too many days like this for me, but at least the people I’ve lost had long, productive, and successful lives. Not like they’re living in some terrible situation, starving for death, hunting for food and water, dodging explosions and shootings, or hanging on for life on some listing ship.

Just for the pleasure of it, here’s a video for the woman of today, Nancy, a music teacher since the late 1940s, playing her saw. She died late last year, well, on Thanksgiving. She would have been ninety-three today.

 

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