I dream like mad dog and retain a lot of what I dream about. Part of my insomnia may be, in part, due to the fact that I no longer wish to dream. It started a few years after the nasty break up. Home girl would start to visit me in my sleep and we would have these great “dream dates” where we did nothing but go to a museum or get the popcorn ready before putting on a DVD or take a nice walk after a great meal. Ya know- the simple stuff that, for me, makes it all worth it. As opposed to the dreams of intricate roughhouse sex or me beating on some fool that talked to her wrong or grabbing her hand to fly her to the top of some mountain.
Nah, this was strictly pedestrian and that’s what started pissing me off about it. I wouldn’t figure out that it was a dream till the very end. Once, she took me to this park north of White Plains, a beautiful field at the base of a dam, to go roller blading. The day is warm, there are kids all around us having a ball and she is laughing her ass off at the prospect that we may bust our asses. I, on the other hand, am SURE that I will bust my ass since I suck at roller blading but, lo and behold, here I am able to break at will and then catch up to her. Signaling to me that this was a dream. After a few laps around the park, we sit under some shade and I ask, “You aren’t going to be around when I wake up, are you?” She smiled and pulled out some fruit to get my mind off the task, which was another dream “no-no” since the taste was a little too real and I could feel my mouth moving in the waking world. I asked again and she still wouldn’t say anything but kept smiling this siren’s smile. After a sigh of false resignation, I let myself feel the grass to the side and the warm breeze that was around me, asked what we were going to do when we got home and if she had any work tomorrow (maybe she could play hookie) as she started to answer, I interrupted and gave her this fucked up stare that I put on when I think I’ve busted someone in a lie. She didn’t smile back and let me know that she would not be around in a little bit and then she got somewhat pissed as the edges of the park got hazy and things started to fade to bright white. She lasted throughout but she was not happy with me, not at all.
Neil Gaiman, in his “Sandman” series, maintains that we do not retreat to our subconscious when we dream but rather travel, through mental projection, to an ethereal realm where our subconscious desires/fears are made tangible. The energy that we use to dream fuels this place and symbiotically allows us an outlet for the things that we can not or dare not experience in the material world. Kinda like the Matrix but it’s a war that neither side can or tries to win with “The Sandman” being the sovereign lord and a key universal figure who rules in a place that even gods must relinquish their power to enter.
Me, I’m kinda thinking that we do go somewhere or at least, I go somewhere when I dream and with the dream above I feel as if I visited somebody. Wishful thinking says that she traveled there willing too but I think I only encountered a small piece of her that may not even exist anymore but that does still exist in me. A part of her that was being seriously repressed at the time since I was at that stage where no one was allowed to mention her name.
After that dream, I was on the lookout for her and she appeared maybe a week or two later. We were going out to eat and she was chastising me for being a slow poke as she was slipping into a black mini skirt. I was ironing a shirt being semi-distracted by the way this dress had not had that same curve just a minute ago and then got a slight burn from the iron. That was the ticket to let me know that this was not her apartment and there would be no dinner later. Without saying anything to her, I willed myself out of the dream and woke up in my bed short of breath. I needed a strong dose of reality and walked to the fridge for a blast of air and a hearty swig of orange juice. The tart in my mouth lasted for a nice second as I sauntered to the couch and turned on ESPN (the only thing that I thought would be interesting at 2:11 am) and started to recount how the Knicks lost, again. I slipped back into dream and it seemed that dinner was pretty good but that the waiter was just a little too snotty for her. I told her that she always thought that when she didn’t get her way. This earned me a light punch to the arm but I told her to chill anyways since I didn’t like that shit while I was driving. She bit her lip and punched me harder but then grabbed onto me saying ‘sorry’ faster then it would take for me to be really mad at her. The time on the dashboard clock said 2:11 which made it kinda weird that there would be this much traffic this late at night and that was the new cue to come back to the waking world.
She wasn’t having it and persisted over the next few weeks but every time she showed up I would be ready and snapping out of my dreams was getting to be a skill. The next time we met was at a mall looking for some paintings for my apartment. There was no rush to this window shopping and she never hurried me a bit but after some talking and some laughs she was relaxed enough to grab on to my arm and I was curious as to why this stranger didn’t feel like a stranger. Her hair color shifted from light blonde to straight brunette and her unclear features starting forming in place and I realized that it was her. I retreated and she let out a little bit of a smirk as she figured a way to get past my defenses.
“You can’t really get mad at yourself for what you dream,” is what Eric would tell me and I would insist that I can. He bought me a dream catcher and it worked for a while or maybe my defenses got that good, I don’t know.
This all sounds way too silly to be true and probably borders on some kind of psychosis but it is what is. I have seen a lot in dreams. Been fed poetry lines and tasted wonderful strawberries, once almost lost my heartbeat in a dream (an entry for another day) and was able to say “Goodbye” to my moms as she drove me around Ecuador in a jeep that had a slight crack in the window of the rear driver side glass. I have lost friends in dreams, as in felt their deaths and have grieved for them. I do not see violence or violent death (as I am not that experienced with either) but have experienced some crazy sex (as I am somewhat experienced in that).
I just woke up from a dream where I was actually slamming in some kind of outdoor setting. I did pretty well too as it was between me and some other dude at the end. For my last piece, I had somewhat of a breakdown in the middle and got real visceral in my delivery but recovered enough to end the poem in a manner that mirrored the content (I am going to hold on to what I was reading with me, for now) and got some scores that seemed to be lower than what I was getting that afternoon. We flash forward to me sharing some laughs with a well wisher when my “opponent” comes up to me with entourage in hand. Homeboy was mad cool and generous in victory as he and his crew congratulated me on a good slam. All smiles and palms as we joked for a bit and he lets me on a little secret, “Man, I thought I was toast for the last round but then you pulled out some real different shit up there… But I gotta know… how come you didn’t do the Salsa poem… That woulda nailed it for you… you know, you always have to make your language come alive in rhythm” He walks away and I wonder why I didn’t fall on ol’ reliable but knew that it wasn’t an option. The place I was at was a place where it was more important to get raw on stage and do what took me to new places inside rather than worry about a slam win. It feels like I went somewhere forward in time, which can also happen in the ethereal and that it’s a place I hope I get to soon.
Her name is Jeanette, by the way. I can say her name no problem and she visited me a couple of months back but things were way different. We’ve never talked in the dreams only shared in the serenity of moments. Last time around, we stared at each other like chess warriors waiting to see who would make the next move and no one blinked. The last time I saw her in the real world was the month that I started going to Bar 13 and my new life started. We didn’t speak much but there was enough tension in the room to insure that we wouldn’t get very close, not close enough to talk, to see how life was, to ask why choices were made, to see if there were any regrets, or even just to enjoy the simplicity of a child’s birthday party.