June 1, 2019

arms flung wide

I was in a public place with my sister.  No, not the one I've met only once, and not the self-righteous fundamentalist zealot who condemned me for harming The Kid by removing her essential influence from his life.  This was the sister who was in my life the most, the one who alternated physical and verbal abuse with attempts to be sisterly, a poisonous recipe for deep reinforcement that leaves a child a confused and complicit victim.  The least likely sister you'd see beside me in a public place.

It doesn't matter why we were outside under a sheltered porch in the midst of a milling crowd of people, in a city, perhaps on a Saturday.  These things seldom matter in dreams.

It does matter that I was tolerating her presence as an equal because I had a purpose for being in that place that did not involve her.  I was fully adult and fully capable of bluntly stating I was off, and turning and walking away.  It does matter that she was powerless in that moment and had no say.

That isn't why the dream is haunting me.

I walked away because I realized I had to find my car.  The crowd parted for me as I sought it, trying to remember on which Victorian-yet-modern street I had parked.  I had just looked at my watch and realized that P.J. had told me our friends were visiting from 4:00 to 5:30, and that it was 5:15 and a fifteen-minute drive home.  I found the car.  I sped.  I dreaded what I would find.  I dreaded what I might not find.

They were outside bidding their farewells when I arrived, holding a blue cooler and an umbrella and some wrapped-up leftovers.  I leaped from the driver's seat of the car and ran to them both, flinging my arms around their necks and bursting into tears, great sobs of relief-yet-sorrow.  They were surprised at the strength of my feelings, so intense that I thought my chest would burst, and that I would show all that love and desperation openly, but they both hugged me close anyway because they knew why.

And then they climbed into their car and drove away.

And I awoke with tears flowing.

I don't believe that dreams are a gateway to any predictive mechanism, whether supernatural or leading to some astute cluster of brain cells responsible for intuition and pattern recognition.

I do believe dreams are a bullet train that can plow straight through defense mechanisms and arrive at stark confrontation with how we really feel, what we really think, what we know that we don't want to know.

We saw these friends a week ago, a visit years overdue.  I threw hugs around their necks and acted appropriately in the social moment.  But it would seem that deep in my brain, in a place only a dream could reach, there was also heart-wrenching fear that it could be the last time we saw them, that we were late and catching the tail end of their lives, that we had been neglectful and poor stewards of the treasure of their friendship.

Death.  Time.  Space.  Attrition.  How many people do we lose?  Why do we live our lives in fear of spreading ourselves too thin?  Why do we apply logic and measuring spoons and ought-to and should-only to our own beating hearts?  Do we do it to drown out the greater, stronger fears we refuse to feel?

That is why the dream is haunting me.

I still want to cry.  I still want to fling my arms around their necks and let my heart pound with love.  I still can't stuff back into its subconscious hiding place the awareness that no heart beats forever.

1 comment:

  1. Now that I'm crying, thanks for putting into words what I've been feeling for some time now. Maybe it's just the fact that as I age, I see people I love continuing to grow old, or worse, fade away into oblivion. Things are changing and I have no control. I, too, feel that time is short but I don't know what to do about any of it! Damn existentialism. Okay, gotta go, now; but I will return! Mona