Saturday, September 08, 2012

CALIFORNIA DREAMING

The heatwave broke with shrieking storms, and as the rains abated, the dreams arrived.

I was inside a sports stadium with an old work friend who now lives in North Dakota. The stadium's walls started to move with determination — something, or some things, on the other side were pushing, pushing, trying to get inside. My friend and I put our shoulders to the walls and tried to hold them in place, but the walls kept moving.

I heard a woman's voice on the other side. She sounded familiar, but I couldn't place the voice, at first. She was talking about happiness, and how nothing we could do could stop the happiness from intruding.

I stopped pushing back. There was no more strength in me, no more desire to fight back. The walls tumbled in and there was no one on the other side, just the woman's voice, now recognizable, now saying a single, staccato, coherent sentence: "Daughter engaged, she kind of likes him best."

Awake now, in the middle of the night. But only for a moment, long enough to jot down what I'd just experienced. Once sleep came again, another dream — this one with the daughter, who showed me her ring. It was a pull tab from a soda can. We were in California, land of my birth.

"Have you ever been here before?" she asked, and we both laughed at the inside joke.

"Are you happy for me?" she asked. I nodded and I meant it.

"Do you really believe that?" she asked, and again I nodded.

"That's not what I wanted to hear," she said, fiddling with the pull-tab ring. "I thought you'd never get over me." And then she was gone before I could deliver my answer: Who said I was over you?

I opened my eyes. The sun was shining. The air was cool, almost cold.

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