Monday, January 12, 2009

Dream Sequence

Not-quite apropos of nothing, a couple jobs in my (as they used to call it) checkered past, were in the employ of a man who went on to be a story editor, then an Emmy nominee for writing an episode of MOONLIGHTING, shot in black-and-white, called "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice." One of our shared agencies served several entertainment unions from an office on Hollywood Boulevard, in the very building where Raymond Chandler had set his private investigator, Philip Marlowe, in practice. So we are already waltzing along the edges of dreams, riding factual elevators with the screaming mad woman and wheeling my baby boy along the streets in his stroller, down at eye level with the gleaners, discovering he can say, "Hi," and thus beginning many a conversation with thrifty salvagers of abandoned cigarette butts.

There are dreams from which I awake with such an acute sense of loss when I discover the visions of the preceding moments were, alas, not real, that I weep. There are dreams which inform me, visitations without the seance circle, that someone who has been gone for years is happy to report all is well. Some dreams employ a play on words, things which sound the same but are spelled differently and I manage to catch the little joke. The dreams, unlike that one from MOONLIGHTING, are always filled with color, pattern, texture and dialogue. Since I have spent much of my life writing (but only in my head) all the words I wanted other people to say, there is an easy pleasure to the sleeping dramas in which the only thing that is required of me is showing up; everything else has been taken care of.

In the past years, close to 40, the casting has held some surprises, usually when the mind ropes in some famous faces and poses them in my frequently architecturally-rich stories. Often the dreams hold no clear meaning; at times I think they are a way the mind shows off, putting on little plays as Bobby McClay and I did when we were in the first or second grade. We also believed we could dig a hole to China and build a rocket that would actually fly. Mostly we jumped off his back porch, catching hold of the poles which held up the roof, and swinging around; we ate apricots when they ripened and once had a rock-throwing fight between our yards. I was the one who broke a window.

Christmas calls me to watch MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, primarily to hear Judy Garland sing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" to Margaret O'Brien whose character resides in that enviable child space where waking and sleeping dreams are really not separate. Her buried dolls, her comic/tragic songs, the snow people, her Halloween prank and its cover-up, are recognizable as the blurry territory of wish and imagination. At what I can only call my advanced age, I still hold title to some real estate there. Too many years were spent in daydreams (escapism would be the more accurate term) and it is not difficult to return, the greatest difference being that now I don't have to go there; I don't need a place to hide. But sometimes there is joy in allowing my brain its dervish dance, a brief visit to an altered state where I can call up the dream visitors I choose, have those self-scripted conversations and find a sort of resolution or a few glowing moments with those who have left these shores, or me, to take paths where I am not invited to follow.

1 comment:

Patti said...

My dreams are so real, so vivid and often so emotional that I, too, awake in a real state!
Love this post, a beautiful piece of writing!