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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

a chilling dream

I woke at about 4:35 this morning from this dream:

of making my way home from somewhere, much like the old Dollarton Highway where it approached the Seymour River. I seem to be with some male companions at a restaurant, a casual kind of place such as travelers go to in poorer countries. There's a lot of camaraderie and maybe some are getting drunk, but it's time to go. It's getting late.

I leave, maybe with someone, and there is a quieter, outdoor spot like a truck yard near where that old gas station was (intersection of Dollarton and Seymour River Place). Maybe my companion wants to stop here for one more drink, to keep the evening going. I don't really want to keep the evening going, but agree to stop.

There's plenty of space on the bark-mulch ground under a kind of tent or geodesic dome frame, but few tables. A young couple is unstrapping their baby boy from a high chair. He is fussing, or maybe shouting in high spirits, and they are indulgent. They let him go, and he goes running for some kind of a motorized bicycle. He climbs on and it shoots away. I'm alarmed; babies shouldn't ride motorized vehicles. The noise alone is annoying. Sure enough, he crashes into something, and people go running to see, but he seems happy, and not hurt.

I sit at one of the picnic tables, and here (I think) I find Tracy [a girl I went to school with]. She too is ready to go home after a night of partying. She remembers me and we get to talking.

"What's the earliest time you can remember?" I ask, hoping indirectly to find out whether she remembers me from grade one.

"My first year," she says, seriously.

"Ah, so you remember grade one," I say.

I'm thinking back to when I invited her to my house in grade one, and she was shocked when I took a piss in front of her, in the crawlspace under the house. She laughed and pointed. I would like to rekindle some of that intimacy with her, because Tracy is still attractive. But I'm frustrated and chagrined by my own timidity and indirectness here; why can't I just bring the subject up? What am I afraid of?

Yes, of course she remembers grade one, but the topic peters out there. Tracy is working a calculator of some kind, figuring out her expenses. She is quick and diligent, serious. We talk about accounting or tracking expenses--she seems to have training in this now. I'm hoping that we can go back home together, take the same route and spend some time together.

We do go, and it is as though we're making our way over the bridge toward Main Street. But it's inside a building, a school or college in the vacation period, maybe ready to get opening again. I find it confusing and unfamiliar. We get separated.

As I try to find my way, I come to a thick primer-colored door at the end of a little corridor. It's a big heavy steel door and it has no handle, latch, or lock on my side: just a smooth door with no way of opening it. It has just closed too--wouldn't you just know it. I saw and heard the tail-end of its closing as I got here.

What to do? Go back? I feel a sense of chagrin, but also of hesitation. Now I'm alone, and the door's high-security featurelessness expresses its unfriendliness: like some fire exit at a mall or stadium.

But the door, of its own accord, pops open a bit, as though with a mind of its own, as though to say, "Go ahead--if you dare." I grab it and pull so I can go through.

On the other side is a short, dingy concrete corridor with flaking paint--ugly and unwelcoming. It goes a short distance, then makes a hairpin turn to the right. I immediately realize that this is a dangerous, even evil place--an encounter with a terrifying destiny, a test. That's why I'm suddenly alone now.

It's not clear whether I continue to walk or whether I'm now carried forward, around the corner. I can see a yellow light, and in terror I see the shadow of the figure I'm about to meet: a man. I can see he has glasses and a mustache. The shadow is much larger than life, but I can't tell whether it's his own size or an effect of the light. As terror overwhelms me I wake up.

When I woke from this chills swarmed over my body in the dark. My mind turned toward dark, pessimistic thoughts about my life. The image came to my mind of being aboard a river raft, headed helplessly toward a falls.

Well. We're all headed toward a falls, aren't we?

When I got up I typed this dream into my journal. I haven't made any interpretive notes, but I find that my mind is newly stirred with troubling thoughts that had settled down over the past few months.

I don't care what anybody says, dreams are a profound mystery. We take them for granted, and so do not see the great challenge they pose to our view of the world. In this respect the ancients were much more perceptive and aware than we are. In fact, as I study the ancient world more and more, I'm coming to appreciate the ancients. We can look back on them and see their arrogance and blindness. But if they could look at us, they would see ours.


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