Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Dream of Love

The most difficult dream I had was what I have determined was a vision of love. But there was no ravishing greeting, no long rest in each others' company in a faraway place. The dream of love started in a long bedroom hallway.

There were pictures from the floor to a tapered ceiling a few feet over my own, the scant lines of white between them the only evidence of walls and ceilings beneath. I stopped at one and stared into the eyes of my great grandmother, Grandmommie Girvin, in an old metal pressed frame.

It was my first funeral and I remembered it vividly. The somber words, the massive turnout of the bereaved. My aunts and uncles, not just from my mother's side, but from my father's gigantic family, too.

But I moved on and came across the picture of my cat Garfield (named by my littlest sister), who I remembered jumping up into my arms when I got home, his well-groomed long hair a soft coat of Siamese-pattern points. had the face of a domestic cat, gruff and brawny, and he was like a blanket on cold winter's nights.

I moved on to a picture of my mother, from a year I did not remember well at all. But I remembered peach trees and orange trees, and I remember disappointing her by bringing home a traded-for car she thought i stole from Fed Mart. Her disappointment, mislaid as it was, was my first, six-year-old, heartbreak.

I was suddenly moving again and looking at old pals, former lovers and relatives I knew were all doing just fine, and whose pictures were flat. They hadn't uploaded yet, I thought.

And then I saw a picture of my friend Neil Roberts, from San Diego Naval Company 145. He had been my Recruit Leading Petty Officer, or RLPO or "Ral-Po," in boot camp, and a close ally in the boot camp politics, as I was the Athletic Petty Officer. These constituted important "command staff" boot camp positions that were somewhat political. He was killed in Afghanistan in heavy combat.

Pixie, my first cat, bumped his head under my palm and I told him how glad I was to see him, or her, or whatever, as I was only a small child when Pixie was alive and did know what gender, then, was all about. But greet Pixie I did.

When Grandma Pruett sauntered by and poked me, motioning with her typical Grandma grin, full of her former mischief and happy energy, I got the message, "Move on, keep going... there's something special ahead." But no words, just that smile.

And then finally I opened the door and the room beyond was nothing but pictures of Marcie and I, Marcie and Seamus, Seamus and I and all of us, pictures impossible because no one could have taken them, but see them and know them I did, each for it memorial.

Then I turned and looked on a full-length portrait of her in her blue dress. Her right hand was out in it, as if to dance, to be led. I reached to touch the glass and found myself dancing with her and smelling her again, feeling her under my hands as we spun in the soft light of the picture frame.

"You always stop and talk to everyone," she said. "But I am not worried about it anymore. You take your time, baby."

We danced and we spoke for what seemed hours, never once mentioning her death. Finally, I kissed her as the music died out and our steps clacked on the floor beneath us. She smiled and we retired to bed, wide awake.

I awoke far too soon and the sound of the paper carrier walking away from the neighbor's steps made me feel very sad.