We’ve all had wild dreams. I have them with regularity. Often they take me back in time to childhood or early adult life. I don’t know why and doubt that anyone else does. I don’t believe in those dream decoder books you can buy at the bookstore. You know, the ones that claim if you are flying on a familiar Persian carpet that you want to have sex with your grandmother. Or that root vegetables symbolically mean you are keeping secrets below the surface. I’m not a “one size fits all” kind of guy. What’s that? You already knew that little tidbit about me? Yes, “eccentric” is the right word, though some prefer “weird”. I prefer the term “form fitting” where form means adaptability and fitting means appropriate. “Now that’s just right… like expandex.”
I can still recall a few snippets of a wild dream from a couple of nights ago. Somehow I was on a school bus that was being driven backwards by a high profile childhood neighbor who had in real life committed suicide many years ago. A Star athlete who didn’t do so well off the court. Sadly, he was not the only outstanding athlete I knew named Mike who killed himself. In this dream, however, he was steering an otherwise empty school bus backwards on a local bike trail against oncoming traffic. I was alarmed and yelling “Look out!” at the increasing number of clustered bike riders as we approached some sort of covered bridge structure. I clearly remember the crunching after running over someone or some bike, as Mike ran out of the bus and shot through the covered bridge, swarming with dismounted cyclists. I followed his lead, but he disappeared ahead of me as I crawled across old greasy gears along the inside of the structure’s right wall. The out of control bus had somehow become dangerous machine gears that threatened to grind my hands and feet into mere nubbins. Naturally an army of hobbit sized people below me wandered beneath this bridge which began to feel like a border check point between a free and a slave state, a toll booth for trolls. My dream face was stuck looking backwards, always backwards. Where did Mike go?
What did that mean? Where did it come from? Well, from the past and the unconscious caverns of my psyche. This young man briefly attended my college 41 years ago on a basketball scholarship. That was the last time I saw him. He was a freshman, I think, when I was a junior. He was dissatisfied with his non starting status on the team. It must be deflating to one’s self esteem to move from the summit to the nadir of the nether lands in one fell swoop. I would not know since the only summit I have inhabited is my coffee circle of distinguished mediocrity on Thursday mornings. Still, even falling off a curb into traffic can be a deadly exercise.
Something must have clicked, though, as invisible hands knitted memory fragments to another one. There was Mike playing short stop, long and lean, number 7. Younger but better than most boys my age, two years his senior. A natural athlete, he played in our recreational basketball league too, the purple shirted Vikings at Mark Twain Intermediate School’s gym. I recall that our baseball coach was also our basketball coach, a single, heavy set guy named Jim who drove a green Chevy Impala. The difference between the two teams was the availability of playing time. The same five stars on our baseball team starred on the basketball team, no surprise. The humbling part of that news was that there were not four other spots to hide less able boys like me and my b.f.f. Richard. There is no right field in basketball. No catcher spot for the fat kid. Only the bench.
Lee, Steve, Mike, Butch, and someone else whose name escapes me were our proud starters. How can I be sure? Memory can be fooled, but I’m pretty sure of those four guys. Heck, I watched them with envy for 18 games. I think I wanted so much to be in the glory zone at age 11 or 12, where a man-child can prove his manliness to other man-children. Those images burned into my memory like a laser powered tattoo.
And then other dreams of confused bus rides and endless walks from home to school or back again drift by. Many was the time I missed my school bus ride and stood at the intersection of The Parkway and South Kings Highway hitchhiking toward my high school, four miles away. Sometimes my school counselor would pick me up. Sometimes a soldier on his way to Fort Belvoir. What percolates into my sleep mind is the waiting, the uncertainty of getting to my destination. Insecurity swirls in such dreams, even when a sultry girl touches my lips with her moistly kissed finger. “Shhhhhhhh.” She says so much without a word while listening to her cell phone. ‘I just came in to use your bathroom’, I pantomime. Oh baby, this could be… an everlasting love; this could be, just what I’m thinking of. This could be… time to pee. Wake up.
Wandering back to my warm bed, I hope to hit play again and pick right up where I left off, but it’s a long time just trying to get my unbroken dream horses back into their corrals. I count backwards from 99, hoping to fade out into dreamland by 44. Not so. Start again. 99, 98, 97…. Hours go by and still no admission to dream land, just stuck at the border crossing without papers, watching the trolls march by.