Thursday, September 13, 2007

Chimera

I am a very vivid dreamer. So much so that I remember dreams I had when I was 6 and 7 years old. I remember the shirt I was wearing, the shade of green emanating from the horse I was riding, the music streaming in the background (Michael Jackson’s Thriller, if anyone is curious,) the circular door of the club house… My dreams are detail oriented, and all of the details have to line up in some way or another, or I won’t be able to convince myself to stay asleep. For instance, if my dream is taking place in 1889 in a town resembling the set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman then there would be no paved roads, the air would smell of boiling laundry, cholera, and raw sewage (the Old West according to Emily’s psyche,) the players would all be dressed in period clothing, unless of course the point of the dream is to focus on someone’s individuality, then it would not be out of place for said person to don a Grateful Dead T-shirt and bell bottoms.

Most of the time, my dream life is a whimsical extension of my conscious self and the connection is seamless. Sometimes, my dreams are beneficial. I have come up with my most creative birthday party decorations in my slumber. I write in my sleep, so that when I wake up all I have to do is transpose the words onto paper. In fact, that is how I came up with my Jena poem.

Occasionally, (and occasionally is too often,) I have bad dreams. My unconscious mind attempts to deal with the incubuses that my conscious mind works at ignoring all day long. Usually, the horror of the dream is so terrible that I don’t want to look at it in the day light. I just want it to evaporate. This happened the other night.

My husband was out of town and I have to bring myself to the brink of exhaustion in order to sleep when he is away. I had been watching too much CNN on September 11, too many stories about the terrorists, their disregard for human life, the American families left reeling in the wake of the violence, and all of this through the looking glass for families in Iraq as they traverse their separate hell. When my eyes were heavy and stung with sleep, I turned the tv off and went to bed.

Note: I have wrestled with whether or not to write this down. I hate the idea of giving voice to my terror. But I have come to the conclusion that it may be cathartic for me to cleanse these images from the bowels of mind. If your dreams are as impressionable as mine, please stop reading. Go watch something completely benign, like You’ve Got Mail. Catch me on the next post.

Somewhere in the middle of the night, I found myself running barefoot through the streets of Baghdad, and to my horror, I was shuffling my beautiful daughters along with me. We were hidden underneath veils, looking for an apartment building where the ambassador was said to be smuggling US citizens out of the country to safety. The shards of sheet metal and glass on the streets cut my daughters’ feet and the blood stained dirt, I knew was like bread crumbs, leading “them,” (our nameless, faceless pursuers) to us.

We reached the building and found it empty, except for a few Iraqi children, seeking shelter. I scolded my daughter when she said, she’d be taking one of the little boys with us, and we left him there on the floor of the bombed out building. We finally found a gathering of people in an alley divided by a chain link fence. There was a truck and a hot air balloon siphoning people from the area. I begged them to let us go, to take my children. The woman assured me there would be another truck, but this one was full. After only a few moments, a man began writing names, graffiti style, on the wall; people who would be allowed on the next truck. He misspelled my middle daughter’s name, and then he wrote my oldest daughter’s name. I shouted and jumped in the air. They were getting out. And then I wondered why he hadn’t written my baby’s name and why she wasn’t in my arms. (My husband was out of town, remember.) In the next moment, the man writing on the wall, somersaulted down the alley and out of sight. Women grabbed their children and disappeared, quickly into doorways or fell on top of them in the street. A bomb had exploded. The trucks and hot air balloons sped away or were in fiery pieces on the ground. The soundtrack of diesel engines and gunfire and terrified people fell silent. Across the street, lay a familiar sight, earth shatteringly still: blonde curls, dimpled elbow, marshamallowy thighs. It was my baby.

I sat up, tears streaming down my face. Angry. Unable to breathe. Scared shitless.

Unable to shake it, this dream has set heavy on my chest since. I keep reminding myself that it was only a dream and doesn’t have any corporeal consequences.

And then, this morning in the kitchen, it occurred to me it is a very real nightmare for some. Mothers whose children wear US military uniforms. Iraqi mothers who put their children to bed in a war zone. Families who have received that most dreaded phone call with news from the front lines.

I don’t have an ending for this post. Mostly, I still sit here, tears streaming down my face. Angry. Unable to breathe…

Sunday, September 9, 2007

An Embarrassment of Riches

Tonight is one of those nights when a chilled glass of Colorado wine and Feist is the perfect pairing.

It’s been one of those weeks, (hectic, almost unbearable) the details of which are not interesting to anyone but me, and if I’m honest, they’re not even interesting to me.

I have a tendency to become harried in the face of a daunting to-do list. And by harried, I mean a panicky Howler Monkey with Tourette Syndrome, throwing things and yelling at others to read my mind or get out of my way.

I volunteer for a local non profit and we had our Annual Charity Golf Tournament this weekend where we hit up businesses in the area to sponsor holes or donate items for a drawing or send golfers to come and spend their money. I love the non profit I volunteer for. I truly believe in their cause, which is to help protect children from sexual assault, bully assault, and stranger abduction. What I don’t really believe in is the way we, and non profits in general, raise money. We spend so much money reserving a private golf course, catering meals, enticing golfers, pampering the rich, hoping that they will spend/donate more money than we are spending on them, so that we will have some left over to use for the program and the kids. I know, I know, “You have to spend money to make money.” Whatever. I just don’t like it. And, yes. We made money this weekend. I just hope it’s more than thirty-seven cents when all of the accounts are settled.

In one of my Panicked Howler Monkey moments, I decided to take a spin in one of the golf carts under the guise of “Checking on the Golfers.” I was of little help. I delivered water bottles to a couple of parched putters, but mostly I pissed off the serious golfers as they paused their game and waited for my cart to bobble across the fairway to ask how they were doing and if they needed anything. One gentleman just shooed me away with his hand. Cranky golfers.

I came across a section of the course where there were no tournament goers, no golf club members; just me and the native grasses butting up against the “rough,” and in the distance, the early morning Hot Air Balloons were taking flight. I felt very remote. And in that moment I remembered to be grateful. It was difficult. I didn’t immediately know of anything to be grateful for. I was sitting on a lush golf course, nestled up against the Rocky Mountains, watching the colorful balloons fade into the bright blue sky, the wind whispering against my neck, the Canada geese crooning their love for the earth overhead…and all I could think of was my litany of undone tasks.

I shut my eyes so that I could see a little better, and started from the beginning…
“I am grateful that I woke up, that this gorgeous morning isn’t unfolding beyond my door, beyond my consciousness. I am grateful for this moment where I am just Emily. I am grateful for the opportunity to be Mother and Wife. I am grateful for my girls, even if they weren’t mine, I’d be thankful just to be around them and the way they make life beautiful….

Several minutes later, I was still listing my bountiful benedictions with no end in sight when the green roof of a golf cart came over a hill a few dozen yards away. It was the Marshall, coming to tell me I had parked my cart directly on top of the delicate, recuperating lawn of hole 10 and could I please move.

I smiled, pretty sure he, himself is a cranky golfer in his free time. And as I carefully drove away, I was thankful for him, too, saving the grass that the geese love.

Grace Abundant.