San Francisco, CA
June 11, 2013
Tomorrow’s the day.
At 5:30 am I’ll get up in San Francisco and drink enough coffee to make me amenable to being awake, and then I’ll take a bus to a plane to a plane to a shuttle to a shuttle to a plane to a barquentine. It will be two days later and I’ll be North of most of the world.
I have a lot of feelings today: above all, excitement… beneath that a few small worries… will there be enough coffee? Will my digestion get screwed up? Will I be sore from sitting too long? But those small worries are small.
Beneath those concerns is a vast, dark current of hope and sadness. The sadness is strange. The sadness is a voice that says, this could have been your whole life but it’s only three weeks… and the sadness says… is it worse to set off on a journey you know will wake you up, only to have to return to lethargy and sameness? The voice also says… there is so much you haven’t done and will never do.
I wonder about these voices and their insistence on preparing me for disappointment: the disappointments of a short lifespan, of the necessity to waste time, of all the lost stories that spoke and died in me, but never made it any further than an intention.
I had a dream last night: I was walking on a tour through a neighborhood I didn’t recognize. I walked with a group of people I didn’t know up the sidewalk on the right-hand side of a steep street which ran between two high cliffs. The guide was pointing out the dwellings built into the cliffsides. They were tall, with the facades of the narrow, stately Victorians I am used to here in San Francisco, but they were somehow carved out of massive trees that were wedged partway into the rock. I have drawn a terrible sketch with my terrible drawing abilities to show what I mean:
It was twilight when we were walking, and there was a hush over the group. I asked if we could go inside these houses, but the guide said “No one goes inside those dwellings. No one lives there.”
As he said this, I saw the curtains being drawn back from a window in one of the houses in an upper storey, and I knew someone was looking down from the window at me, but it was dark inside so I couldn’t see them. It was getting darker outside, and I found that the tour group had moved on without me, and I was just standing on the broken sidewalk, looking up at the houses.
A door opened in the house closest to me, and a shape came down the sidewalk. I couldn’t really “see” the shape, though it felt like a person, and I knew it was, for lack of a better word, a ghost. This being moved toward me… and I remember that some communication passed between us. We spoke, but we didn’t speak. It’s the way you know things in dreams… you speak, but not necessarily the way you do in the waking world.
And then the being swept back up the sidewalk, back up toward the house. As it passed back inside, it broke apart like a transparent fog, the particles of it seeming more like simply an existing part of the landscape that had momentarily rearranged, and were now flying back apart into the grass, the rocks, the darkness again.
And I suddenly felt, like you feel a thunderstorm approaching, or like you feel the hum of bees where you’re near a bush full of flowers… I felt that all those forsaken houses…. they were full of beings like the one who had stepped out and momentarily formed in order to speak with me. Not only that, but the houses were full of histories, full of hidden passages, full of doors leading to even more interesting places, and that I was not afraid to go in, though it would still take some courage to do so.
I like to not interpret dreams, and just let them work how they work best- like paintings and photographs and symphonies- images with emotional, non-verbal content. But in this case, I’d like to say that it’s not unusual for me to dream about talking to the dead. And these dreams are always transformative, in the sense that my inner world is now getting ready to travel with my body to places unknown.
It seems like a great way to set off for an adventure that I truly hope will give me a chance to get my internal world and my external world back into a kind of synchrony. I once said that a writer who is not writing is like a haunted house… and that is what I have been feeling like lately. Perhaps now I go by that ghost’s example, and re-shape the part of me that creates and communicates out of those little shimmering bits of my surroundings…