You all know I’ve been trying to stop the madness with my credit cards so I decided to employ the “stick them in the freezer” method so it’s a little harder to get to them. It works pretty well. Of course, it was completely accidental that my Amex is suspended face down in this iceberg so I can still read it should I need to. Ya know, in case of a QVC emergency. So, we’re going on vacation to the Grand Canyon with my mom and my sister, and this morning I get panicky and decide I should really take my MasterCard just in case. Just in case what? I get separated from my mommy in Las Vegas? Now I’m running around taking care of last minute stuff so I throw the plastic container that holds the block of ice that cradles my credit cards into the microwave and press auto defrost. Seven minutes later the block of ice is not defrosted so I throw it in the sink and run hot water on it. I pry my MasterCard out of the ice and it is destroyed. All cracked and buckling. Holy #%#^*! What am I gonna do? I’m screwed! The trip is ruined!! I’m starting to panic. Ok, deep breaths. I’m fine. My husband has his credit card if we need it. My mom certainly has hers if there is a slot machine disaster, and the whole point of this to begin with was if we don’t have the money, we don’t need it. This does not stop me from stopping at the ATM and seeing if the card still works, however. It doesn’t. A strange peace comes over me. I won’t be taking out large sums of money to play video poker or buy t-shirts that say “my friends went to the Grand Canyon and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”. I will, on the other hand, get to see some beautiful %#^#. And I get to spend a week with my husband, and my mom, and my sister, and if I’m supposed to win big at the slot machine, I’ll have to do it with the change from under my sofa cushions. Priceless.
As I settle into my seat on the train this morning the bats flapping around in my belfry are working up a good head of steam. I wonder why the guy sitting in front of me always drinks a beer out of a paper bag on the train at 6:45 in the morning, or why I woke up with the theme from “Gilligan’s Island” in my head. I wonder if the new top I’m wearing today looks like I only paid $2.99 for it. I feel a little chill in the air and I think about last winter and what this winter might be like, my thoughts finally settling on, of all places, the week of my dad’s funeral. A huge snowstorm was predicted that week, and because we were going to be sitting shiva, the whole family brought enough baggage for several days, prepared to stay. My mom, my brother and sister-in-law and my nieces, my sister, my husband and I were all there, and the day after the funeral the snow came and we were stuck. My mom had slipped on a patch of ice a couple of weeks before, fracturing her pelvis and was still hobbling around with a walker. There was a lot of #%^* going on. But curiously, this long weekend remains both one of the saddest and one of the nicest memories. It is so rare that we don’t have one foot out the door; we have things to do, places to go. We want to visit longer, but we have to be somewhere, we want to miss the traffic, we have to get up early. For a few days as we made funeral arrangements, buried a husband, father, grandfather, we were together. We ate, we schmoozed, we spent time with family and friends who braved the weather, we ate again. We shoveled snow, we ate some more. We cried, we laughed, we told stories, we ate. I loved that weekend. That sounds bad, right? How is it possible that I sometimes wish we could go back to that long weekend full of sorrow. But not just sorrow. Love and memories and food and laughter. We laughed a lot, sometimes with tears in our eyes. All together. With the heaviest of hearts often comes the lightest peace, and we carry our losses on our backs, like wings.
I’m going to veer a little off track here and talk about dreams. Specifically , recurring dreams. More specifically the recurring dreams I have, one of which I’ve been having since I was a kid. I assume we all have them and I would love to know where others go in their sleep, but I’m fascinated by the themes that keep popping up. There’s the “Restaurant dream”, where I’m working in a restaurant so enormous that there’s actually a mall inside the restaurant and it takes hours to get from one end to another. I’m always in the weeds and I can never figure out how to use the computer. That part is a variation on the “telephone dream”. Since I was little I’ve had this dream where I keep trying to dial the phone but can’t get through. Back then it was a rotary phone. Now it’s a smartphone that has so many games and pictures popping up that I can’t get to the phone part. Last night it combined itself with the “trying to get to Hollywood Blvd. so I can catch the bus home” dream. I’m on some main tree-lined street , the Santa Monica Freeway is somewhere to my left and I have to figure out how to get to the bus to get home. Often in this dream will appear elements of the “I graduated from Pitt years ago, but I’m still going to school for free” dream. This dream splinters into one of several recurring sub-dreams, either the “it’s halfway through the semester and I have no idea what my schedule is” or “I’m trying to find my dorm room” or the “I’m leaving campus and trying to find Hollywood Blvd. so I can catch the bus home…” And all of these can incorporate the “trying to walk” dream in which I feel like I’m practically crawling trying to walk, like I’m walking through invisible quicksand, not to be confused with the “I’m driving an old Chevy which has no pick up and almost no brakes” dream, which is the “trying to walk” dream with wheels. What is the point of all of this, you ask? Damned if I know. Are dreams our mind trying to work out a problem we have when we are awake? Maybe. But the interesting thing in my case, is that all of these dreams have an element of past lives, College, living in LA, driving my dad’s Impala, working in restaurants. I never dream about money, which occupies so much of my waking thoughts these days. I only rarely dream about my current work situation, or my current husband. If my subconscious is working to come up with solutions for today, why is it a squatter in the abandoned buildings of yesterday? I have choices. I can squat in yesterday, and daydream about the future, or I can see the past lives for what they are, a guide to understanding today and embracing tomorrow. And that’s a daydream come true.