Monday, March 24, 2014

No. 73 – Dreams

Performer: The Allman Brothers Band
Songwriter: Gregg Allman
Original Release: The Allman Brothers Band
Year: 1969
Definitive Version: An Evening With The Allman Brothers Band, First Set, 1992. I love this version for the almost completely unhinged slide-guitar solo by Warren Haynes.

In the tradition of The Allman Brothers, I decided today rather than follow a defined path to just riff off a theme and follow the theme where it leads to its logical conclusion. If that means turning a four-minute song into a 19-minute magnum opus, so be it.

I don’t have crazy Salvador Dali-esque dreams where the laws of the universe are violated. My dreams are mostly of normal situations but where the conditions are just enough askew for me to not realize I’m dreaming until I wake up … most of the time.

But a couple of times I recognized that I was dreaming and changed the dream midstream. One time, I was walking in the woods with another man about three feet in front of me, and I thought: This dream is boring. What would happen if this guy suddenly tried to kill me? No sooner than I thought that then he whipped out a big sickle and began chasing me around. Fortunately, this was during a period when I could run forever at top speed in my dreams and not as though my feet were churning up mud.

I had another one of those more recently. I recognized that I was dreaming and immediately decided, well, if I’m dreaming, why not make it a sex dream by bringing Salma Hayek into it? (It’s a dream, so I might as well go with the best.) I wasn’t so fortunate then, because as soon as I conjured her, I woke up. Damn.

I have violated laws about dreams, or at least what people have said about dreams. For example, I know I dream in color, which supposedly you can’t do. I know this, because I’ve had several dreams where I wake up realizing that the dream involved something where the color of an item was important to note, like on a piece of clothing or a briefcase.

I also died in my dreams. Obviously, because you’re reading this, I didn’t die in real life. And I’m not talking about the car-going-over-the-cliff scenario where you know you’re about to die but you wake up in time. I’ve had that happen numerous times, too. No, I mean, I actually died in the dream.

It was a few years ago, but in my dream I was coming home from a solo vacation, only home was in a more overgrown city than Chicago, and I was going by gondola and then foot. It was late at night, and I had a sense that the road I was walking on, with my bookbag and a suitcase, was in a potentially dangerous part of town. It was dark and few people seemed to be out.

As I walked along the side of the river, I saw some teenagers riding bikes around under a distant street lamp and wanted to distance myself from them, but another teen on a bike came riding up behind me. As soon as I realized what was about to happen, I heard the crack of a gunshot and the bullet rip into my brain.

It didn’t hurt as much as I thought, but I remember thinking, “I knew it! Oh no! Who’s going to find me? I guess I won’t know. I love you, Laurie. I lov …” and everything went black for about 10 seconds.

When I awoke, I was at home. Laurie was next to me still asleep. My heart was pounding in my throat. I rose up and leaned over her to make sure she was breathing, which she was, and then flopped back down in bed emitting one of the biggest sighs of relief that it was only a dream. That one really seemed real.

That’s the thing about dreams that get inside you like a tick: It takes a few seconds to realize that it was just a dream. I’ve had dreams that got me into trouble, and only later did I realize why.

One time, after I was awakened in the middle of the night, Debbie asked me who I was with in my dream. Huh? Yeah, who were you kissing in your dream? Wha … I wasn’t kissing anyone. No one else …

And then I realized what it was. In the dream I was having, I ran into the dog I had when I was a kid, Sugar Cookie. I saw her out walking in the woods and was  delighted to see her after all these years. “Here Sugar,” I called to here, making that kissing sound that you do when you sometimes call a dog.

I wasn’t kissing anyone, it turned out. I was calling for my long-dead dog. “You heard that?” I asked, surprised that my dream manifested itself physically to that extent. To this day, I’m not sure Debbie ever bought it, but why would I lie? If I had been dreaming I was sexing up, say, Salma Hayek, I’d have told her. After all, it was only a dream.

I’ve conjured up dead relatives in my dreams, too, and I don’t mean in the sense that they’re characters in my dream, but that they’re in my dream … and I know that they’re dead. The first one was about six or seven years ago. I dreamed that I took Laurie to Torch Lake for the first time.

For the most part, everything looked normal, but when we arrived the sun was setting over a flat-calm lake, and the sky was a beautiful pink, blue and purple. I felt peaceful. Laura and my aunt Amy walked in front of the car as we parked by Dad and Laura’s house, and they had sort of a strange smile on their face, as though they were saying, you got her just in time. We got out of the car, and the weather was perfect—no temperature, in that you felt neither warm nor cold.

Laurie asked what we should do first. Natural as could be, I turned to see my Meemaw who had been dead for more than decade at that point. I smiled at Laurie, and I said, “You’re going to meet my grandmother.” And Laurie rushed over to give her a big hug. I remember waking up feeling as good as I ever felt after a night’s sleep.

Later, I had a practical experience with a dead person in a dream. When Mom died, in the basement of her condominium was a box of ornate china. I seemed to recall, very vaguely, that it had been displayed in a cabinet at my grandfather’s house in Marion, Ohio. Each piece was carefully wrapped in newspaper, from the Marion Star soon after my grandfather died in 1976. That meant that it hadn’t been looked at in some 35 years until I cracked open that box, even though it had been moved thrice in the interim.

Jin and Scott weren’t interested, but I figured it had to be a family heirloom of some sort, so I took it to keep for Leah until she was older, but what was it? Unlike everything that Mom had in her china buffet, she made no note of what this china was, because it was hidden away in a box down in the basement.When I got home, I took a picture of a couple pieces and sent it to Jack and Sally, asking them whether they knew the origins of the china. Unsurprisingly, neither one had any idea after all this time.

A few weeks later, the mystery was solved in my sleep. I dreamed that Jin, Scott and I were at Mom’s place, although it looked nothing like where she lived. Mom had died, and we were going through “the last of her stuff” in what appeared to be a utility room. It was mostly junk.

Suddenly, Mom was there, sitting in a recliner and telling us what things still were around the house that we should get. It all seemed completely normal, but I knew an opportunity when it presented itself. I turned and said as a matter of fact that I was glad she was there, because she could clear something up. “That china from Grampy and Nanny’s house that was in the box in the basement: Who’s china was that?” Mom looked at me and calmly said, “That was your grandmother’s,” meaning her mother, Nanny.

So that’s exactly what I’ll tell Leah when I turn over that china to her years from now.

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