Iâ€™m racing up a steep hill on the tail of a pickup truck, stuck to their bumper without really meaning to beâ€”having trouble locating the brakes, and then even once I do, still we seem to accelerateâ€”weâ€™re going faster and faster up the hill, flying over moguls in the road.
Iâ€™m climbing back up a hill I walked down earlierâ€”crawling up the steep slope doggedlyâ€”and itâ€™s really, really steep and, I realize in dismay, long, and Iâ€™m nowhere near the topâ€”and I feel like I have no energy whatsoever and despair of making itâ€”but I also know I canâ€™t just stop and sit there, I need to get up and over and through it.
thereâ€™s a tidy little house, almost like a dollâ€™s house, perched at the top of a hill in the middle of nowhereâ€”a spiffy gay couple lives there, and Iâ€™m admiring the pianos, and the self-described missus asks me if I play, and I say, no, I used to try, and I loved to tinker around with itâ€”and as I say it, I realize the truth of it.
I discover gaps in the side of the big stone and wood fireplace where flames have escaped and are beginning to spreadâ€”thereâ€™s a hanging cloth thatâ€™s bound to go up if I leave the fire to its own devices, so I reach out with my bare hand and smack the fiery patches to put them outâ€”but theyâ€™re so hot I switch to stomping on them with my shoeâ€”and then I run to get my bother and father to helpâ€”I show them the problem area, and my brother far too casually says heâ€™ll take care of caulking it up.
the bike boy rides past my house, all bundled up in cold weather clothes, and calls out to me by nameâ€”and my stomach flips to know heâ€™s taken the trouble to find out what it is.
Iâ€™m livingâ€”more like squattingâ€”in a big old house with my stuff all piled around and old sawdust and debris all over the floor when a group of friends comes inâ€”I try to keep them out, embarrassed by the state of things, but I canâ€™t be outright rudeâ€”and bit by bit they start sorting things out for meâ€”maybe it begins by my asking for their help in hanging a large framed pictureâ€”and then they all get into the project and set to work transforming my space. a couple of times I begin to disagree with their placement of things but then see their logic, which makes far more sense than Iâ€™d realized at first and surrender to the process. the very best, most delicious part is my tall friend from college who has returned from travels prepared to love me for real and heading up this transformation crewâ€”he sets to work up on the bedroom, hanging vermilion and gold and vivid red tapestries around and over the bed until it resembles a jewel-toned cocoon in a bright room with large, wide-open windows, sunlight streaming inâ€”and I discover another little room I didnâ€™t know existed up some steps: a square, mission-style turret space with windows all around, glowing wood floors and window frames, and I think, here is my study, itâ€™s perfectâ€”it had been the daughterâ€™s room, my sisterâ€™s friendâ€™s, and some of her things are still thereâ€”the deal is that Iâ€™ll look after them until she can come pick them upâ€”and I can easily work around the stuff for the great pleasure of using this space where I feel I belong.
Iâ€™m part of a group lesson in how to lower our shouldersâ€”the charming woman at the front of the room says, ladies, you could even shimmy a little bit and, who knows, maybe youâ€™ll get yourself a date, and smiles and demonstrates most delicately, and the group breaks into delighted laughter.
Iâ€™m driving with laura, and she starts to give me a hard time about how darn slow I am, how because Iâ€™ve taken a wrong turn Iâ€™ve basically wasted her valuable time that could be better spent elsewhereâ€”and I start to stew and finally say to her, well, whatâ€™s the big hurry anyway? getting more and more steamedâ€”but she wonâ€™t back down, she feels entirely justified in her positionâ€”and then suddenly weâ€™re at a border crossing in Israel where the authorities are shutting down the road and telling the traffic from both directions to turn backâ€”and a spoiled housewife in a camper is complaining loudly and asking just what sheâ€™s supposed to do nowâ€”and we all feel for the poor guys in uniforms who are dealing very patiently and professionally with a much bigger problem than this silly womanâ€™s spoiled vacation plans.
Iâ€™m visiting a brother-sister pair of friends who are moving away and giving me their pair of pet rabbitsâ€”big fat bunniesâ€”and I accidentally let one escape and am scared to catch it, afraid it will bite me, but the little girl just sighs and scoops it up and I realize theyâ€™re quite tame.
I go with friends to some kind of dinner event in a masonsâ€™ lodge or church, and when we arrive, thereâ€™s room at the table for all but me, and itâ€™s assumed Iâ€™ll just sit at the next table overâ€”but I thumb my teeth at them and keep on walking, go and search out a hiding place in the basement where I wonâ€™t be found or bothered until the whole thingâ€™s overâ€”itâ€™s clear that Iâ€™m trying to punish them by removing myself but also effectively spiting myself. I go into a bathroom in the dark downstairs hoping for seclusion, but there are two old ladies in the stalls, chatting across to one another while they pee, so I have to be very quietâ€”I see an alcove of tiny chairs all stacked up and put away and go in there and sit down and lay my head down over them, but Iâ€™m not hidden enoughâ€”so I get up and crawl under a table with stacks of blankets piled up underneath and wriggle in toward the back, trying to tangle myself up and quiet my breathingâ€”but the minister comes in and busies himself with paperwork right on top of my hiding placeâ€”I lie there wishing he would just go away and afraid heâ€™ll find meâ€”and then thereâ€™s a shift in the air, a hanging silence, and it seems like he may have seen some part of me sticking outâ€”and I wake up.
I walk cross-country right into Exeter boarding school and, because itâ€™s so big, nearly get away with passing myself off as a student. I drift around the place, sitting down in a large auditorium lecture class, more attentive to the students and the prevailing culture than any academics going onâ€”affluent, smart, privileged kidsâ€”good-looking for the most part and deeply integrated into the institutional world. I go to the bookstore and am awestruck by how many fine and non-essential material wares they can sign away for. I walk down a sharply downward-angled hallway, a sort of staircase hybrid, architecturally distinct, and muddle my way through the maze of the place, trying not to let on what a trespasser I am. I cut across the beautiful autumn campus, sprawling dormitory buildings, wide hillsides, picturesque students walking to classâ€”maybe this happens when Iâ€™m cutting out away cross-country once again at the end of the dreamâ€”but before that I get pulled into the deanâ€™s officeâ€”maybe theyâ€™re getting suspicious, or maybe Iâ€™m just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I end up trying to pass myself off as a student, give them my name and stand there, heart pounding while they pull up a record for another sarah townsend whoâ€™s slated to teach compositionâ€”and it all seems too providential to pass up, so I say itâ€™s me, lie about my social security number, and then stand there with a sinking heart just waiting for the truth to be revealed and my charade to blossom into flames around me.
Iâ€™m visting laura, going through all her nearly-empty giant-sized jars of peanut butter, looking for something to eatâ€”a gaggle of friends comes over with party fun favors, some kind of pirate dressup play-set or like thatâ€”and then theyâ€™re climbing the walls with magnetic clamps theyâ€™ve brought alongâ€”in the process they disturb an enormous spider which spins on a thread down into the center of the room, and I scoot away and cry out for the boy to get itâ€”I can see, however, that heâ€™s not going to be fast enough and itâ€™s going to be up to me, and the dream ends with me looking around for a big enough container to trap it.
thereâ€™s the boy who seems to maybe like me backâ€”he calls me back to his room (weâ€™re working in his house, and Iâ€™ve been vigilantly professional) and asks me if I find him attractive, and I begin to crumble and quake insideâ€”the possibility, the terrorâ€”so much, I say, itâ€™s killing meâ€”and then Iâ€™m biting the clothesline that hangs before me. he says, I wondered if we might try something. he looks awkward and avoids meeting my eye. you can just say no if it seems weird or whatever to you. and I think, here it isâ€”the moment of truth. and I say, okay, trying to keep my voice steadyâ€”it could really go either wayâ€”and then I wake up, and itâ€™s lost, unreconciled. and Iâ€™ll never know what he was going to suggest.
Iâ€™m with thisbe, and sheâ€™s showing me something online which involves the guy she has a crush onâ€”and then suddenly there he is, on the screen, seeing us backâ€”and weâ€™re both embarrassed and thrilled, giddy and suddenly regressing to adolescenceâ€”and I gesture that thisbe loves himâ€”and sheâ€™s gesturing something equivalent about me, I notice, right after I question the kindness or wisdom of spilling these beansâ€”and Iâ€™m overwhelmed by how childish weâ€™re both being and fall away from the computer. nothing good or real seems bound to come from this.
Iâ€™m fighting with my sisterâ€”weâ€™re staying in a hotel, and sheâ€™s scolding me, telling me to buck up, and Iâ€™m furious and indignant, clinging somehow to my right to feel badâ€”I stomp off and shut myself in my hotel room and adjust the lights to a more soothing setting, prepare to hunker down. later Iâ€™m back out in the world, and I walk to my car and glance away for a moment and itâ€™s goneâ€”only an empty space where it had beenâ€”and Iâ€™m sure one of my friends in the wedding party must have come to get it for me, mistakenly looking after me, and Iâ€™m frustrated and dismayedâ€”Iâ€™d been intending to flee the state altogether, hit the road, and now thereâ€™s just an empty space where a moment before thereâ€™d been a vehicleâ€”I stand there not knowing what to do, and thisbe walks up, furious and distressed and demands, where were you?, Iâ€™ve been worried sickâ€”I feel bad but also like I donâ€™t deserve her indignationâ€”why do I need to answer to her? but bad for having upset herâ€”and her strong reaction alone seems to determine that Iâ€™ve done something wrong. Iâ€™m trying to get free but I canâ€™t shake the fact of being connected to and at least somewhat accountable to other people.
weâ€™re skiing/skating down over an enormous globe structure excavated out of the ice and covered with densely compacted snowâ€”weâ€™re the field research team, and Iâ€™m assisting the scientists. as we go down over the slope of the globe, our speed picks up across the icy surface, and I grow anxious that Ill go spinning off into spaceâ€”but weâ€™re looking for the way in, some kind of latch or keypad entry, and just as Iâ€™m nearing the most dangerous slope, there it is, I skate right into it, activating it â€”and instantly all the snow melts right away and the whole gigantic contraption stands revealed: an ancient city-sized structure of immense complexity and grace and beautyâ€” and alive, conscious, awakened somehowâ€”like a god thatâ€™s been sleeping. and weâ€™re relearning how to speak to it.