Waking Up

xx031_WakingUp

A soft gray texture suffuses my inner vision. Conscious awareness asserts itself. It penetrates my slumber like a torch in a cave. But I am not so easily awakened. I resist with subconscious strength built up from a lifetime of stolid willfulness. I choose sleep and a fragment of dreaming returns.
I call up a scene in which an angelic creature… a golden-haired woman… is speaking to me with insistence. By her side, a darker, younger girl speaks in an accent that is strange to me. She is talking of ghosts. And she is smiling.

In and out of wakefulness now, I recall this scene from last night’s dream. I catch glimpses, seemingly at random, from the dreamscape. Images of tropical islands transforming into vast desert plains mix with scenes of flying high in midnight skies.

I pull up the covers and burrow deeper into the bed in an effort to hold on to these memories of dreaming and to fend off the urge to open my eyes. Morning sensations – the tangible pressure of light upon eyelids, bird sounds, a dog barking in the distance – force a sense of inevitability. The new day is coming. I can resist for only so long before I lose my fight against it.

Knowing the imminence of tomorrow, I am like a frantic householder, whose home is ablaze, picking up shards of a life that is ending. I desire to collect and preserve the memories of the night’s dreams because in these past few moments they have grown in significance and seem to be of monumental importance.

With eyes that will not stay closed, I scan my bedside table for my paper and pen. Each word I scrawl on the yellow pad seems to erase an entire phrase I am intending to write. In a flash, I see the futility of this effort and simply endeavor to commit the main dream scenes to memory.

*

Dawn is already awake. I can hear her moving about as I descend the stairs. Hugging her and seeing her smile, I feel situated again in my familiar world of time-and-space. A moment later, wrapped in a blue towel, Mia emerges from the shower. She walks into the kitchen with a hug and a good-morning smile of her own.

“I had these amazing dreams last night. I can hardly remember them though. I tried writing them down but it was quicker just to try to memorize the scenes in pictures.”

The ladies are curious. Dawn takes a sip of coffee and Mia sits down to stroke the dogs. They look expectant, interested.

“First, I just had this feeling of significance…like my dreams were really important…but I could hardly remember anything except the last scene. I was sitting on a soft white couch. There were two women. One was Spanish or South-American…with dark hair…she was talking about seeing ghosts. On the couch next to me was this really angelic-looking blond. And she was telling me to keep quiet and listen to something…which I couldn’t hear…at all.”

Dawn asks where the dream took place.

“It looked like my studio in San Francisco. But the dark-haired woman was someone I knew from New York. Actually, I remember a lot of places. It started out in some tropical jungle, really beautiful…full of butterflies. I felt like I could fly and ended up flying over this desert. Then there was this high mountain region full of caves. I had these…sort of…endless adventures in the caves. I remember coming out into daylight…and I saw my old Mustang driving away. There were a couple of people in it…couldn’t see who they were.”

Mia looks up. “That’s it?”

“Well, then it was the scene on the couch…that was at the end…right before I woke up. The main thing was this woman saying…insisting…I should basically shut up and start listening. That’s all I can remember.”

They’re both smiling now – looking at each other like they’re about to break into fits of laughing out loud.

“I can tell you guys like the ending.”

After sharing a nod with Mia, Dawn puts down her cup and says, “It sounds like it began in Florida. I’ve been dreaming of Florida lately, too.”

“Yeah, it started out really hot and I could feel the climate change each time the scene changed.”

Mia moves toward the stairs.

“I need to get ready for work, Art. It sounds cool. Nothing wrong with taking more time to really hear things.”

“Right. But I feel like most of the important parts I just can’t remember. It seems like a dream that you only half-recall can just as easily be misinterpreted as not. I guess I’ll just be going over it for a while to see if any more comes back to me.”

“I have to get ready too, Art. It’s like amnesia I guess. If you can’t remember something that happened to you, is it lost forever? Or do you just keep struggling to fill in the gaps until it makes some kind of sense?”

“I know, Dawn. I think I’m just going to stop trying to make sense of things and….”

“Listen?”

“Listen.”

We say the word in unison. For her it is a question. For me it is… done.

*

Image: “Waking Up,” artwork and digital photo collage, Tullio DeSantis, 2009.

 

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