Sunday, February 28, 2010

To Her Cheshire Smile

To skate away on... to some alien, distant shore.

I don't know what it is about dreams. They sneak up on you, torpedo you with anxiety and hopes, then drag you across the cluttered floor of your subconscious.

And why are the scariest dreams the ones that sound the most benign and mundane when you describe them?

The other night, I dreamed I was in a meeting about a project. I don't remember what the project was, but in the dream I was very excited about it.

And I came out of the meeting, which was in an old duplex house with curved doorways and dark grey adobe stones.

And I looked into the other unit of the duplex -- which was a mirror image of the one I'd come from -- only the walls were painted a deep, rich ocean blue. Then I saw her.

And she said she was surprised to see me. So I mumbled something about the meeting. Then she said "I didn't think I was allowed to talk to you." Which is weird because I thought I wasn't allowed to talk to her.

And it's been many, many years since I've seen her. But she got into my blood like a virus and I'm still not sure I have all the antibodies I need.

So we talked and the party she was at swirled around us. She was selfish and sad and her life was one long emergency. But I loved her then more than either of us could understand. And being back in her presence, even if just for a moment, even if just in a dream, was intoxicating. And very, very, very sad.

And as we talked, I realized she was in danger. If she went to Hungary she would die. And the thought froze me, terrified me. And I let myself think for a moment about what that would mean if she died... and whether that would make her finally vacate that chunk of real estate in my brain she's occupied (without signing a lease or even paying her share of the utilities) for so long.

I must have gotten quiet, because she suddenly grabbed my arm and looked me in the eyes. "Why did you come here?" she asked.

I wanted to say this.

But I'm not Bruce Springsteen. Hell, on my best days I'm barely Manfred Mann.

So I didn't tell her. But I did say "don't go to Hungary." Her smile turned confused, gradually fading. (Even when I'm wide awake, it lingers behind her, leaving the hint of her essence.)

And then, though it took every ounce of effort I had, I got up and I left.


Anonymous said...

So did she go to Hungary?

Connie said...


Holly A Hughes said...

Did you really think those songs in the dream? I never know if my dreams have a soundtrack. . .

Alex said...

My dreams usually have a soundtrack... although I often can't quite place the songs (and sometimes one of the stereo channels is mixed way down low).

Alex said...

And I should admit the Joni Mitchell song was in the dream... the Springsteen song was my waking addition.

jb said...

Very well observed.

Years later, I can remember a handful of phrases, benign on the page, that scared the hell out of me in dreams, and still unsettle me when I think about them.