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Monday, March 11, 2013

What dreams may come must mean something

As long as I can remember, even back to my toddling days, I have had this strange ability to have an instant and somewhat clear recall of dreams from those mystic snapshots of time. Especially those which recur in one fashion or another such as flying in planes and zeppelins and other craft and sometimes spreading my arms and zooming over landscapes on my own. Sometimes crashing horribly.

Dreams of giant, menacing creatures – one I still remember named “Big Jim” – who occasionally played cameo roles in my preadolescence. Rare misadventures where I am unexplainably walking around in my underwear and trying to hide like Adam camouflaging himself in Eden. Cecil B. DeMille Technicolor productions of biblical proportions of every ilk and kind, leaving me gasping, laughing, screaming, questioning, doubting, believing, crying and in utter awe after awakening.

I had an epic dream and it was a vivid travelogue. Some folks sail in slumber to Tahiti, claw their way to Mount Everest's summit or voyage to undiscovered and unimagined worlds. Last night I traveled throughout much of Hoosierland.

IT ALL BEGAN with anxiety at an innocuous hotel in downtown Indy. I was trying to find my current jalopy, compounded only with the angst of not even having its keys. I wandered through parking garages and worried knowing fully aware I had to make a road trip. All but ready to give up, I sauntered into a last garage and a seedy fat guy with a beard greasier than a White Castle “slider” listened to my sorrowful story.

Think if you check upstairs you’re gonna find it, my man. Key is in the ignition!  If I remember clearly, he let me exit without paying.

Then I was zooming and clanking down the back roads through the Hoosier hamlets of Ellettsville, Spencer, Freedom, Worthington, and farther south. Basketball goals nailed to barn doors, hand-painted signs professing Jesus’ return, roadside memorial crosses, and summer melons sold at the next stop. Vincennes. Push on, another 50 clicks to Evansville. Drive safe, not that far, I thought as I gripped the wheel.

And there I was in the gravel driveway of my boyhood home, lumbering up to the back door with a battered travel bag. And what a diverse crowd to greet me: my good Dad, gone these past 23 years but wearing his green Cummins Diesel mechanic uniform and looking much younger than I do now; my Mama making another pot of coffee; older brother George writing something on a portable typewriter; sister Kris banging out a tune on a battered black piano; a handful of distant school chums; my daughters (circa 1984 or so); and an old prom date named Tracy, returning from her native Canada and looking much for the wear.

We sat in the family room eating fried chicken and world-famous Wolf’s Barbecue (a local delicacy) until the late hours. Lots of laughter as time went on and the coffee pot always was full. As all of the characters drifted away my Dad walked up to me and stuffed some money into my pocket.  Son, you gotta go now. You have much to do on your way back home. You know what I mean? he added, his front gold tooth gleaming with Mama standing at his side with her hand on his shoulder.  

I guess I did understand in some way.

Then he nudged me toward a scooter – the kind folks drive when they have lost their licenses. This one was beat to hell and Mecca seven ways to Sheol. Dad helped me strap a load of stuff to the vehicle’s tail end and I began to putter up U.S. 41 North.

Just south of Terre Haute there was a roadblock and people screaming about a vehicle wreck in a nearby rain-filled ditch. I hopped off the scooter and offered to help.  A woman with a muddy face urged me to head immediately to a nearby apartment complex and a specific address. Drive a car ‘cause that scooter you’re on ain’t gonna get you there!

I followed her directions, steering the Mercury Sable which I now drive today. It was a huge place, residents selling baubles and bobs and what-knots in front of their homes at the sprawling, worn-down complex. I found the address and knocked on the door. An older fellow kindly opened the door and listened to me explain the situation in the ditch and gently said he would take care of it. I walked around his tiny living room, looking at old family photos on the wall. That’s when a guy resembling a Griffin Dunne (who invited him?), in his younger days, came walking in.

Talked to my Daddy, I see, he said. I said I reckoned I did. 

He’s a minister and a good guy. Me, too. He was married a long, long time. Being married is blessed thing, in my opinion.

I mentioned that I was in line to take that trip up the aisle again and was going to do it at my home church. He seemed to know that and encouraged me to visit a place on the eastern outskirts of Terre Haute on my way back along Interstate 70.

And so I did -- into a parking lot at a bland building with no signage and an open entrance.  I stepped in. Dreams seldom give you choices.

I was surrounded by countless kids scampering here and there and happily playing games and chasing one another. Doors opening and shutting from all sides. Imagine a Chuck E. Cheese with some semblance of order and meaning. A brown man in a Hindu-type cap tugged at my elbow and welcomed me. I saw my own grandchildren at play and enjoying themselves among others.

See how they play? It is good, is it not, my friend? Please meet my father!  he said, cradling a wrinkly, grinning, gap-toothed infant with eyes only a wise soul may possess. See how these children play? Only one thing is important…

Then I woke up, shortly before the annoying blare of the alarm clock.

ONE GUY OF ANCIENT TIMES NAMED JOSEPH was blessed with the gift of interpreting dreams. Me? My birth certificate merely bears the first name Joe and I am left to feebly guess at what my nocturnal Netflix might mean.

I can’t interpret this sleepwalk for its totality or meaning. Throughout that journey, though, I never felt afraid of crashing or burning. Or trying to hide from the world cowering in my underwear. I had people past, present and unknown urging me to move forward.

Even if it means taking a detour through Terre Haute, Indiana, on a stripped-down scooter.

1 comment:

  1. Did you see where I left that portable typewriter? I would love to hear the sound of one word clapping.