The Dream, Climbing Back To Creativity
Yesterday I arrived at my destination just as dark fell upon a tiny beach village on the U.S. side of the Canadian border at British Columbia. I had driven north on a grey day (or a gray day or a grey dey- I was already contemplating poetry and prose- and listening to writer podcasts).
It didn’t begin to rain until I was almost there. I clasped the stirring wheel tighter and shut off the podcast, staring intently ahead. I couldn’t be foolish enough to let my guard down and turn this writer retreat into a disaster before it had even begun.
Slush began to form on the bridges, and sure enough, at the exit where I turned off, an ambulance was departing the scene of an accident (“wrecks”, they called them in the South, where they’re not so polite about the possible accidental cause of such an event). A police car’s blue light was lighting up the dusk, a white station wagon pointed face first into a gulley, its side peeled open by a little red something or other that lay wounded up ahead. See? You have to be careful when the weather turns.
I remembered that I had forgotten to bring coffee and blueberries so the light of a market lured me off track. The smartphone lady told me to return to the route. Recalculating. Suddenly I was surrounded by frosted donuts and sprinkled cookies and six-thousand calorie muffins and Talenti gelato (sea salt caramel). I waded onward to fruits and vegetables. Blueberries. Coffee. Fresh-ground Columbian breakfast blend. Tunnel vision to the checkout.
Checkout lady: Making smoothies?
Me: Um. Yes. As a matter of fact, yes.
Checkout lady: I thought those were too many blueberries for muffins.
Me: Mm. Right.
4:20 PM. I pulled up to the premises and parked. Poor lighting. Can’t see the office. No sign of life. Dug my arrival info out of my bag.
“Check-in time: 4 PM. In order that your unit be properly prepared for your arrival, we regret that early check-ins are not available.”
Called the phone number on the sheet.
“Thank you for calling Holidayland. If you are reaching this message, we are closed for the weekend. Our hours are 9 to 4, Monday through Friday. If it is an emergency- and ONLY IF IT IS AN EMERGENCY- call 000-0000. If it is not an emergency, leave a message.”
I put up my hood and got out of the vehicle. Pouring rain and wind blowing horizontal. Behind the fence I saw white pages taped to the inside glass of a door.
“If you have arrived after 4 PM and have not made arrangements for late arrival, call 000-0000.”
Rosemary answered the phone, and yes, she had been expecting my call. Key in a dropbox at unit 208. Everything’s ready. Warmth, fireplace, 3 bedrooms if you need them. (I don’t.)
I carried my groceries inside the spotless, cozy, home away from home. Freshly scented, vacuum cleaner tracks on the carpet. Put suitcase on a bed in Bedroom 2. Unpacked the basics and got sorted away, as I always do.
This time was different.
I was blocked. I was making an attempt to get back on the writer track, on my Nth edit of the manuscript, trying to find the key that was going to turn my memoir into something meaningful. If not, I told A.C., I would mark it fiction, add erotica, and upload to Amazon. Well I told him that with a wink but I wasn’t very convinced. He agreed. “Yes!”
So there I lay (lied? laid? Verb tense, my weakness), on a colonial sofa with some very cozy pillows behind me, checking my email and twitter notifications. I was a little bit frightened that it wasn’t going to work this time. (It had always worked before. Isolation, quiet and aloneness- as opposed to loneliness- always work for me.)
By eight o’clock, I was drifting off. Put on my playful puppy-printed flannel pajamas. (Why are flannel pajamas always playful prints? Why are there no sexy flannel pajamas? People in Canada get horny too, you know.) Went to bed. Of course I brushed my teeth and flossed and all that hygiene stuff that I wouldn’t want you to think I skipped over.
The next time I awakened, it was 12:30 and I was sweating. I peeled off the puppy pajamas and tossed them on the floor where they belonged.
Deep breath. Asleep again. The next time I awakened I realized that I had been dreaming the most amazing Technicolor dream. I didn’t dare open my eyes or I would lose the dream forever because that’s how I always lose my dreams.
I am normally a vivid and regular dreamer of dreams. Every night, great adventures. However, the past few months have been dream-free— maybe from too many awakenings or tossing and turning, but I missed my dreams. I felt uninspired.
This dream might be significant.
I kept my eyes closed and began to carefully recount the details, retracing my steps in the dream to recall as much as possible.
I had been attending some kind of weekend self-improvement course for women. The content is nebulous, but “Paris” was a factor, so it could have been about Survival or Art or even Beauty. No, not Beauty. There were four or five other women in my group and suddenly it was time to leave. I had four bags, all cross-body types. I lifted my laptop strap first, then, layered the next onto the opposite shoulder. It was made of brown velour. In the dream I fondled the fabric, remembering that I once had a brown velour dress in college, the one that I wore to the Janis Joplin concert for homecoming. Then I added the two other bags. Their weight was an encumbrance. I had the impression that they were filled with art supplies. I looked like Pancho Villa with all the straps across my front.
At the exit of the event, I was asked to reach into a box and draw a name. A winner was going to receive a trip to Paris. I did so and called out the name of a young woman who popped up smiling, long dirty-blond hair, not dirty-blue jeans. (Who decided that “dirty-blond” was a color for hair? Do people even say that anymore? Rude.)
My group of four or five found each other and set out for home on foot. It was a bright blue and green day and we wandered far and wide, oblivious to the miles, like pilgrims. Or the characters in The Handmaid’s Tale. Onward, finding our way.
Soon we came upon a roadblock on a hillside. Tall piles of dirt filled the road. I climbed up and looked around to the other side. A house was being demolished. Its contents sat piled up precariously on the side of the road. Asian antiques. Ducks, brass, ivory, calligraphy, cranes and more. All quivering on this delicate pile. I stopped and rebalanced a duck sculpture that looked like it might knock the whole pyramid down. We admired the antiques as we passed. Blue china. Plates and cups in porcelain. Vases. More tentative stacks, all assembled on the hillside. Fragile Beauty.
Workmen continued to add to the stacks, walking back and forth from the scene of the house demolition as we passed. When we got to the top of the hill, we looked back and saw that they had finished.
Suddenly, music vibrated against the hillside and its echo caused all of the Asian antiques to fall down into a broken mess. The workmen were cursing one of their midst who had found an old Donovan tape and couldn’t resist playing it. I don’t remember the song but Donovan brings to mind art and colors. “Colours,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Wear Your Hair Like Heaven,” “Try and Catch the Wind,” “Season of the Witch”. These were songs that meant something to me years ago. I hadn’t thought of Donovan in as long.
We turned around and now the scene changed to one of Art being created all around us.
An outdoor passage, the width of the Sistine Chapel, was filled with young men and old men—all men— creating Art in brilliant media. There were no canvases or brushes. The earth was the canvas and it was sparkling White and made of something magical and malleable.
I leaned back to look up and saw single colors being celebrated. No rich realistic Michelangelo mastery. Just wedges of pure color in abstraction. Royal blue was being spread into a graphic shape. Yellow pigment was being swirled into a sculptural scene marbleized with white as translucent as the Pieta. I was aware that there was much wet paint and I was admonished to step carefully. We were climbing and there were no stairs. The artwork composed the steps and risers, and each riser was taller than average. I had to strain to lift myself from one section to the next, as if I were suddenly Lilliputian.
I was marveling at how each artwork was more beautiful than the next. Crowds of others making their way and seeing my travel companions ebbing and flowing with the crowd. Nearer, farther. Together again.
The world was Art.
A fast moving rush of water suddenly appeared in the midst of all this art, pouring from a huge opening in the wall. It was like the rivers I’ve floated in the caves of Central America, sharing the same waterways that were once part of the sacred Mayan underworld. I suddenly had the impression that the water was healing but that I had to stay on the “right” side of this flowing water.
Then I was awake, amazed that I had dreamed of all this Creativity and Art.
I remembered that Royal Blue and Yellow—the primary colors in the Dream—are colors that I never use. Maybe I’m supposed to dare to go places in my writing that I haven’t dared to go before today.
The Beautiful Asian Antiques that were being saved from the demolished house and later collapsed? Maybe I’m supposed to save the best bits of my writing and be careful to use them properly and not be distracted by other influences.
Time to write.