You showed up in my dream last night, blonde and younger than you are now, younger than I ever knew you. It was a long, meandering dream. I was hanging art with two other people in a new place where you and I would live. You walked in the room, hugged me tight lifting me off my feet. I can’t remember the rest, except me asking you a question about why something . . . and you smiling down at me like the sun, direct and open, and saying things are the way they are because of this. I knew you meant this feeling between us that hangs on and on. The dream slowed down and we hovered in that feeling, remarkably tranquil, and I sensed a half awake/half dreaming truth, or a hope, that you are out there somewhere feeling this going on like I feel it. But I woke up questioning that, thinking it’s just me carrying this on in my imagination, and then a flood of humiliation (I certainly can’t trust my own dreams). You’re long gone, never thinking about this again, which of course I don’t really know. But why should that matter even if it is true? You have a permanent place in me. It’s a lovely room mostly, but I’m not grateful for it. I’ll enter it occasionally, but then I’ll be reminded that love, unspoken, thrilling, cool love has moved on and that feral little girl starts stomping around, pulling out my hair, so I leave. In actuality, it was beautiful to see you again up close in my dream after so long with that smile of yours that seems to know everything and not question everything the way I do. Why not just sit in that room with you, and me, and enjoy it?
I spent so much time literally sitting in my room fantasizing as a kid I’m sure there are neural pathways in my brain carved hard and deep that I travel now even when I don’t know I’m traveling them. Lately I ask my husband or daughter a question about some mundane, but necessary detail, they answer, and a few minutes later I can’t remember if I asked it or not so I go back and they smile kindly and say “yes dear”, “yes Mom, you just asked me that”. My mother died of Alzheimer’s so I worry, but I actually believe the problem is I reside between here and the murky interior world so often I’m not really listening.
Rocking and disappearing into imaginary places started when I was very young, about four. But it was around the age of 12 that I got serious. I began to construct my future life in the gold velvet rocking chair in my room above the garage in a new, flat, spare, sad, housing development in the Denver suburb of Littleton where my newly married mother and stepfather had moved our family. The record player was my way in . . . I put a record on, sat low in the chair, and rocked and listened, and floated off. The visual imagery that would come to me was so vivid and enthralling; I didn’t see the room I was in anymore. I was grown up. I was beautiful and I was free. I was living a large life. Mostly I was great singer because that’s how I could leave the room best, singing along.
I took that gold velvet rocking chair and the rocking ceremony and my flourishing interior life on to my first apartment and dull job right out of high school and to the next one and the next one through my late teens into my early twenties. The rocking and pretending subsided when I found the theater and my exterior life finally flourished – acting, a surprising way of actually being real.
I didn’t rock for a long, long time, but I did still disappear into my hard comforting neural pathways far into adulthood, usually as I fell off to sleep. But then, when middle age was upon me, I found the stories and future fantasies had morphed into fears and worst cast scenarios, so I started avoiding my interior life, avoiding being alone, avoiding riffing, avoiding imagining, I couldn’t be trusted. I would only scare myself and make the anxious feelings worse. It was a strange place to be, running from myself. It has taken many years to begin to untangle it all. I work hard to stay in the present, being here with whatever the truth is. I still catch myself, sometimes numerous times a day, steering blindly into the worry, and then I steer hard again the other way to come back.
The dream of you surprised me it was so much like young me finding the imaginary place that used to be such a comfort. Maybe I'll try stepping into our room more often, sit the feral little girl on my lap, and rock her. The interior life v. the exterior life, is one really better, or just more acceptable.