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Dream: Last Day of August 2017

September 3, 2017


August 31, 2017

Today is the last day of August, 2017. If I look at the weather on my phone, it is hot and humid in Southern California. Below the numbers, there are short videos of rescues from hurricane Harvey, headlines promising stories of grisly finds, which I scroll past rapidly. Last night after dinner I had a small glass of wine which left me strongly buzzed, perhaps because all I ate was a rice cake with peanut butter and applesauce—too hot to cook and not hungry. On my computer email, different images, flooding and drownings in India, but Facebook screams of people and animals in Texas, harangues about how to send money without getting scammed. Passionate pleas for the Red Cross, equally passionate pleas that their bureaucracy doesn’t leave enough for victims. I didn’t read last night as I usually do, but awoke early, strongly troubled, feeling that my heart was beating too rapidly. My phone app said otherwise, pulse only 66, about the same as usual. Well, maybe it was irregular. I don’t have an app for that, yet. In the still dark morning, something is not right in my chest and dream images bob up like chunks of ice in a swift winter river.

The first dream image is sand and still water and a wood framed building which appears to be where I am now leaving employment. I don’t speak to the shade people around me as I gather the detritus of my former job and pile a few items on an old folding table. The only thing in the collection that appears to be important is a stack of paper, some pages dog-eared and wrinkled. I open an already packed cardboard box on the floor. In it is one of the old globe carafes that fit in the coffee machines in most old offices. Mixed with picture frames and pencils, unpadded, it is at an angle but not enough to spill its contents, about three fourths of a pot of dark brown coffee. I wonder if my car will be stuck in the sand. I turn and the papers on the table are gone. Perhaps thrown out by someone trying to help?

I hear the lines from Dylan’s song, “and admit that the waters around you have grown.” repeated over and over with the thought, Are you getting it yet? Huh? Huh? Are you getting it yet?

What am I not getting? Isn’t it obvious that the flooding in Texas is a warning? Too obvious. I assign meaning to everything. Hackneyed metaphors: The televangelist who doesn’t open the mega church until social media’s wails reach through the thick walls of his multimillion dollar home, the emphasis on rescues in Texas with only a casual glance at thousands dying in India.

My attention shifts to myself and I am indignant. We are talking massive casualties here and I am agonizing over my memoir? Needs an arc they say. Needs to be more chronological. Hell, I’m not chronological. My memory is spotty, random. But pressure is building. It needs to be in good hands before I go on the bucket list trip. Is it because the thought of a bucket list invariably leads in its logic to the conclusion of me?

Another image of the dream emerges. I remember going to a Catholic Church with my grandmother and watching her take communion. Bread is body. Wine is blood. Eat the bread, drink the wine, ensure the continuation. I see my hands tearing my manuscript into small squares and placing them on tongues. This document is my memory. This document is my soul. Eat and remember me. I was once young. I once had adventures. I once served death. My father, my mother, friends, husbands. Illness on illness. Death on death. I held sweet children and grandchildren. I felt ocean sand and pebbles in my sandals. I smelled fresh pine and earth in the woods.

The artist leaves paintings, the composer, songs. Each creates a space where they exist within their creations, to survive in time. But how many more paintings and songs are lost than remain? If there is rebirth, I do not retain memory of a former life to rest in. With no belief, my mind conjures a heaven of cotton candy, fluffy and too sweet. Thought repeats, No, this is it. This is all. This now. Consciousness will not know itself in base pairs on a chromosome or see an apple tree and remember that soft scent, nose pressed against fruit, that crunch, that slighty sour sweetness.

I will my arms around thousands of books, a samovar, an Inuit carving, Kachinas, talismans, amulets, remains of my life and my parents and their parents. Things to be scattered, divided, valued, not valued, saved with love, released with shame, ignored. I struggle on with my stories. I hold that dream image. I place a fragment of my life on an imagined moistened tongue. This is my body, this is my blood, this is who I was.

  1. ” I place a fragment of my life on an imagined moistened tongue. This is my body, this is my blood, this is who I was.” Powerful ending lines, Barb. I love the feeling of self-acceptance they represent.

  2. Thank you. I was going to edit and then said, “What the hell! This is how it emerged from my dream.”

  3. Laura Costner permalink

    Agree that is a powerful ending. As a formerly practicing Catholic it really resonates. Let set aside time to talk about your memoir. Sounds like it’s time to ‘get it done.’

  4. Absolutely beautiful. The writing and the writer 🙂

  5. Different Style – nice. It’s not that I don’t care about India, just that it keeps happening like that all over the World

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