The Football & Space Dream

Pleasurable dream. I came off as successful beyond what I expected (although others seemed to expect it) and was happy, respected, and admired. I was a hero. Isn’t that what we all want to be?

The first dream found me at a football game. I don’t know what level of playing, team names, or anything like that. A running back, I was on the sideline. It was early in the first quarter. My team was down by a touchdown. Okay, it’s early, that’s not bad, but what was demoralizing was that it didn’t look like we could do anything against their defense.

I watched the play from behind. A running draw, our big back was stuffed and lost yardage. But as I watched the play, I knew that it would be different if it me.

I told the coach. He and the others had already reached the same conclusion and sent me in. When I went in, I was doubtful. I was so much smaller. Anxiety swept me.

Then, the play was over. Back on the sidelines, I’d discovered that I’d scored on a fifty-plus yard run. What a great feeling of celebration. Then I found that it was late in the game; it was almost over. I’d scored three times. The other team hadn’t scored again. We were winning in a blow-out.

I read notes on that first scoring play, when I went in. Smaller, but fast, I was able to duck and spin past the initial rush. Then, according to a guard, “Seidel used him like a lawn mower, pushing me ahead of him down the field and mowing down anything in his way.”

Reading that felt great.

Now, it was off to work. I worked in a space operations center alongside engineers, admin people, radar trackers, etc. I was a high-level position. There was a crises. People were waiting for me to arrive. They believed I could resolve it.

I went right to work. Although my desk was at the front, by the status boards and maps, I worked the room from end to end and side to side, talking with everyone, taking notes, making and taking phone calls, and issuing decisions. The crises was resolved but we stayed busy. I consulted with the engineers over a few things. They were always eager to show me what they were doing.

Some were ending their shift and going for food. I was invited but declined. Others decided that a food run was in order. One scientist held up a script of paper. “Here’s my order,” he declared. “I thought that a food order was going to be taken, so I was ready.”

Taking his note, I read his order. He’d used a cryptic shorthand that made me laugh. I had to puzzle through it to make any sense of it.

A cake with white frosting was delivered. A piece was cut for me. I picked up a plate with the cake and prepared to eat. The dream ended.

Everybody should experience uplifting dreams like these.

 

Again

Remembering the past doesn’t do much good.

That’s what they tell me. The past is dead. Water under the bridge.

But we still spend a lot of time there, arguing about what happened in that particular moment (ah yes, I remember it well), trying to pick out the jigsaw pieces of memory that shows how we got here. (You’d think that weird shape would be easy to find, but the pieces are harder to place than you would have believed.)

Remembering the past can be entertaining. Like, remember how your football team used to win? Remember how skinny and good-looking you used to be? Thank god for photos, or no one would ever believe it, right?

Then sometimes, you pause, glancing up to see yourself coming in through a door in the future, then hold your breath as you look back to see who you were and squint at your self-image to know who you now are.

Then the present — which was the future and has now become the past — crowds in with needs about what you were going or where you were doing — oh, look how mixed up I am! — and then rights your direction until memory calls you away again.

A Baseball Dream

I began as a middle-aged man, probably in my thirties, in the dream. Somehow, I was asked to come to high school to play baseball.

Several points from reality should be noted: our high school didn’t have a baseball team. I didn’t play for our baseball team.

But in this dream, I said, “Sure,” and went off to play this game. A brief tryout, conducted by my high school football, track, and wrestling coaches, was conducted: “Can you pitch?” I threw some fastballs; they were satisfied.

It was a loose “old-timers vs. young players” game. I was part of the old-timers. Teams were formed: I’ll pick him, I’ll take him. I was selected and was riding the bench until I was asked to pitch in relief in the middle of the game. None of us knew how that would go, but I pitched well, striking out several. Then I batted, and hit a triple. Very cool. By the game’s end, I was considered an unexpected hero.

Back home (after a dream team leap), I was asked to play in a second game. I agreed. Time details were provided.

Now, I was worried. Anxiety levels jumped because, hey, there were expectations. Then I started overthinking things and confusing myself about what time I was supposed to be there.

All sorts of things next happened. I was getting dressed, but paused to pee. When I did, there was a commotion out in the house. Hearing it, I peed on the bathroom wall. It was like, oh, no, but then I threw on a robe to go see what was going on.

My Mom and her boyfriend and their friends had returned from a trip. She and he were their current ages.

They’d arrived home early and unexpected. After briefly greeting me, they went into a chaotic conversation about flights, schedules, and tickets. You’d think that they were planning the trip instead of just finishing it. By the way, Mom asked, did you call your Dad? He was supposed to have surgery. I hadn’t heard anything about that.

Amidst this, I scrambled to dress. They’d given me a uniform. I put that on but now I couldn’t find my glove, bat, and ball. The first two were located with help from my Mom’s boyfriend, but then I couldn’t locate the ball. At last, a cat was spotted batting it around and chasing it.

I retrieved the ball, a mold-covered lime orb that had no resemblance to a baseball or softball. What the hell, that wasn’t important, I decided, and I was running late. Scramble, scramble.

I headed for the field. Along the way, I met my wife. She was going to the game. But first, we were being assembled in a classroom. Some of my friends from this period in my life were there. Weird. The teacher (an old high school English teacher of mine who didn’t remember me) was going around, passing out reading material that we were to read aloud. Each of us were given excerpts from different classic pieces of literature.

Then, though, I protested that I had to go. Telling them that I’d see them at the game, I rushed away. Now I’m in this huge U.S. Air Force facility, passing displays about AF history, technology, and traditions. I’m with some of my military peers. We agree, boy, has this stuff changed.

As I pass through the AF facility, I’m trying to understand where we are. It seems like an air base, mall, museum, and flying ship at the same time. I have a deep, sneaking suspicion that those impressions were all true, that we were somewhere high in the atmosphere.

There wasn’t time to consider it more than that, because, oh! Time! Baseball game. I wasn’t sure what time I was supposed to be there, but now I believed that I was definitely late. Rushing to the field where we were supposed to play, I discover that no one else from my team has already, not even the coach. Holy shit, where is everyone? What’s happening? Am I in the wrong time, place, and date?

Some young players show up. My tensions eases. The coach still hasn’t shown. What the hell, we’re supposed to play soon.

He finally shows, and apologizes for being late, but there was a family thing. I talk to him, and end up counseling him on how difficult families can be. Then he tells me that I’m going to be the starting pitcher. Can I handle that?

Sure, I can, I answer, but I’m enormously doubtful. I remind myself that I was successful before. But that was different, it was unexpected, and now, given the chance, I was overthinking it all, and that would probably skew my performance. I needed to relax and not worry, I told myself.

As I take the mound to warm up, the dream ends.

Floofpectation

Floofpectation (floofinition) – a housepet’s strong belief that something will happen; an attempt, through behavior or sounds, to make something happen.

In use: “He had a sandwich. The animals crowded around with floofpectations. In exasperation, he said, “This is banana and peanut butter guys. You won’t like it.” But with floofpectations remaining high, the cats started purring and meowing and the dog emitted a little, “Woof”. Sighing, he held the sandwich out for their inspection.”

A Searching Dream

It’s been several months since I’ve had a military dream. Being retired military, I always think of these dreams as representative of my desires for structure, order, and accountability. The dreams usually lack these things, which might be evidence about my state of thoughts when I’m awake.

This dream found me again as an U.S. Air Force master sergeant returned to active duty. As in my final years, I was working for the commander, a brigadier general. In this case, though, nobody was expecting me. Announcing my arrival, I was given a large packet of mail that’d arrived for me in anticipation of my arrival. Other than that, nobody noticed me at all.

The command section was noisy with overcrowded activities. Threading my way through, I asked others where I was supposed to sit. Nobody could answer. As I kept looking, I came into a small room and up against a wall. (You have to love the mind’s sense of humor, right?)

Throwing the mail down in angry disgust, I complained, loud and long, about not having a place to sit and work. Then I told a senior admin person passing by to tell the commander that I was there, and needed a place to work. After walking off, I meandered a bit because I thought I was due a promotion. Where was my promotion. I saw others being promoted, but not me. That irked me. I was certain I was due a promotion, because that was one reason that I’d returned.

Next, I was off on an assignment that took me off base and into the real world. I was driving a truck and towing a trailer. Two others (strangers who were junior NCOs), were with me. We were seeking supplies.

I came to a crowded and chaotic camp full of Army soldiers. I asked a few where I was to get my supplies. They had no idea. Where could I go to find the information? No idea.

Exasperated, I drove around, up dusty trails and around compounds of tents and marshaling areas until I found where I needed to go. I was expected and the trailer was filled with quick efficiency.

Ready to leave, one of the troops accompanying me began acting strange. He seemed to become fascinated with weapons that others were using. I ordered him once to come with me. Responding in a daze, he said, “In a minute,” and walked away.

This intrigued me. I followed him. He seemed to be wandering. I asked him, “Are you looking for something?”

He nodded.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll know it when I see it.”

I told him, “We don’t have time for this. We need to go.” Yet, I wanted to indulge him in his search because it seemed so important to him.

That’s how the dream ended, with me following him through a dusty area as he searched for something that he didn’t know.

 

The Church Tam Dream

* I always thought a tam is a hat. The use in this context is from the dream.

A friend of mine (L) was beside me. He’s exactly how he now is, about twenty-five years older than me, a retired, silver-haired engineer coping with COPD.

We were on a wide, well-paved asphalt street lined with trees. I said, “Where’s Church Street?”

He said, “Here. You’re on it. This is Church Tam.”

“Church Tam?” The term confused me.

L said, “That’s why we were confused. You’re asking how to find the place where you are.”

I was still thinking about that when he moved off with a shoulder shift, nod, and wave that signified good-bye. At that point, I saw a white Church off to one side. It was set well-back on a sloping green lawn. Large and simple, it looked like many of the unassuming, clean-lined churches I’ve seen throughout my lifetime.

I was more interested in another set of buildings that were further back and off to one side. Built of cinnamon-orange bricks and of a straightforward, square design, the two buildings were in tandem, with a smaller one in front of the taller one. Whether I knew it or heard it, I knew that the building in the back hadn’t been opened in many years and that it held secrets and historic information. Wanting to explore it, I followed a sidewalk to the front door.

Large, paneled windows were visible on each. As I walked up to the front door, I saw movement behind the windows. A tall man was looking out at me as he moved toward the front door. Half-turning, he waved to others behind him. Two children trotted after him, followed by a woman.

Opening the door, he stepped out. Tall, slender and white, his hair and beard were a dark gray. He was dressed in a plaid shirt and blue jeans.

The children came up as he said, “Welcome. We’ve been expecting you.” As he finished that, a woman in an apron came out, wiping her hands as she joined the other three.

I didn’t say anything but looked at the group and building. I was wondering how to get into the big building to learn its secrets. The man said, “Come on in. We have room for you and food.”

“Thank you,” I said. He and I shook hands. The children were shy but seemed to know me. The woman smiled and then went into the house.

We followed her in. She was going down a polished, dark wood hall, but the man and I stopped in a large front room sparsely furnished with a fireplace, thick wooden coffee table, and several leather armchairs. He repeated his welcome. I protested that I couldn’t stay with him and that I thought he was mistaken about expecting me because I’d just decided to come here on an impulse. He laughed at that, telling me, “No, we’ve been expecting you.” Telling me that he’d been right back, he went down the hall.

I was left alone. Looking around, I saw pale-green double doors set in a stone wall. Sconces were on either side. Like cathedral doors, they were pointed at the top of the arc where they met. They were painted, but it looked like a century had passed since it was last painted. The doors were hinged, with a large keyhole in the middle.

Giggling, the children shuffled up, but stayed back. They talked in tandem, telling me that people couldn’t go into the other place because it had a lot of secret and important treasures and things in it, and that they’d never been allowed in it.

“I know,” I said. “That’s why I’m here. I want to go in.”

“You can’t,” the children said. “Nobody can. Nobody’s allowed to go in there.”

I said, “Someone must go in there. Does anyone have the key?”

“Yes,” one child and then the other said with thoughtful looks. “My Dad,” the boy said. “He has the key.”

“Maybe if I ask him nice, he’ll let me in,” I said.

As I was saying this, the man approached. In one hand was a large ring of keys. On his other palm was a single key. “Here you go,” he said. “I think this is what you’re looking for.”

The dream ended.

***

I had this dream four days ago as part of a dream bomb that lasted several days. Its impact was more sharply felt than the rest.

In My Neck…

In my neck of existence, back when I was a child, snowstorms meant listening to the AM radio to see if school was canceled. Snowstorms meant bundling up to go outside to play in this substance, to sled, build, explore, and experience. The storms meant returning home to hot tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich with a dill pickle, or a cup of hot cocoa.

Snowstorms changed our neighborhood sounds, forcing out the usual ruckus in favor of cars’ soft sibilant hissing, or a spinning whine as tires looked for a bite in the slick mess. Rhythmic chains, clicking studs, and the snowplows’ grinding blades broke the stillness, enhancing the ambiance.

The house was hot and the outside was frigid. Sunshine seemed hidden by infinite layers. Trees were starkly outlined, but cars and houses were buried.

Snowstorms made the day special as routines bent and fractured under the snow’s weight. Now I anticipate the snowstorm for days, hoping it’ll return some of childhood’s joys when the snow closes us in, but the storms rarely stand up to hopes.

At least, in my neck of experience.

The Knives and Rain Dream

I was back in the military once again, but this wasn’t like any military experience of my life.

As a senior NCO, I was standing off to the commander’s right, facing the troops. They were at attention. One troop, Ryan, a former co-worker (but not in the military), stood in front of the rest. At the commander’s order, Ryan pulled a knife from his clothing. About the length of a machete, he threw it at a target above my head and behind me. I was shocked by his cavalier approach and thought, this won’t go well.

The knife bounced back off the target, striking Ryan on the right side of his front. He went down.

As I expected, I thought. I ran to Ryan, took a knee, and said, “Call nine one one.” I looked over at the commander. He held up one finger. I nodded, indicating that one knife had struck Ryan. As this took place, I realized that Ryan had thrown two knives. As I said, “One knife,” Ryan said, “No, two.”

I looked on his other side. Both knives had bounced back, striking and injuring him. An ambulance arrived. I left him in the professionals’ care.

The commander left. The troops parked their cars and assembled to take tests. They were at desks, but the desks were outside, yet arranged like they were in rooms.

I wasn’t testing, but overseeing the process. I discovered that one of the test-takers had parked in my parking space. I didn’t care, and was more amused by it, but the guy thought I was bothered. He went to move his car, telling the rest as he did that he was doing it because I was upset even as I tried telling them, I’m not bothered. When he moved his car, they went to another area of desks to take their tests. Shaking my head with amusement, I left.

I awoke up in my dream. I was in an apartment with my wife. I was worried about others outside, and open windows. Rain was falling, and the wind was blowing. Growing concerned about rain coming in, I went around, checking on the doors and windows, closing some of them. Waking my wife, I asked her, “What’s wrong with you? Why did you leave those windows like that?” Befuddled with sleep, she turned away.

I checked on our pets. They were all fine. Nobody had broken in. I realized that we’d been sleeping with the lights on.

The dream ended.

Fall Slipstream

It’s a gorgeous fall day, smoke-free, with a cloudless blue sky. Our sun is bright, but the wind presents a chilly edge as it toys with leaves, tearing them from trees and sprinkling them over the streets, sidewalks, and yards. News, worry, and politics are aside. Memories of days like these are pulled from my youth in Pittsburgh.

It’s the weekend. At last! Freed for a day from the teachers’ drones, studying, quizzes, and tests, we’re out in the streets, chatting about girls, music, sports and television, bullshitting each other, John mocking Rick, complaining about school, wandering around, hanging around, playing football in the street. 

Halloween is coming up. What are you going to wear?

Thanksgiving is next month. Thanksgiving, that amazing feast – stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy – and pies! Pumpkin! Apple! Or maybe cherry. With whipped cream. Family will be over. It will be warm, noisy, and crowded. But, wow, the food.

And then there’s Christmas. What do you want for Christmas?

The simplicity makes me sigh. That was our future. But we would tell each other –

I can’t wait until I’m older. 

I can’t wait until I have my license.

I can’t wait until I have my own money.

I can’t wait until I’m done with school.

I can’t wait until I’m out of here.

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