Yet another dream of nestling in the
bole of a tree, armed and wary. But this
one felt a little more peaceful than most, the wariness more of a routine than
As a little girl, so small that I had
to reach up for doorknobs, I used to go with my family sometimes to Palomar
Mountain. A motherly oak tree near the
observatory had its bole so close to its roots that even I could climb into
it. And there I would sit for hours at a
time, tuning in to the tree, listening in ways that don't need ears, while my
family marveled that anything could keep me so still. She taught me much, that tree, that I can
never put into words, no matter how I hone the craft of language.
Why armed? Why do my dreams of nestling in trees so
often show me armed? Perhaps because
everything in this society menaces the ability to tune in to trees and all the
natural order, that I need these reminders to protect that part of me, that
it's worth risking everything to keep.
I wrote the scene braided from Kiril's,
Reno's, and Lufti's thoughts. And scenes
in Toulin, too, as well as the dying rebel's scenes, although I tapped into a
dream of a much more serene journey into evening woods.
I dreamed of the bitter woman's mostly-empty
hospitality bureau, down to the old, expired stamp, and of contemptuously
leaving a pocket-knife in it–and then spiraling down into woozy, edgy sickness
that led to waking up. On waking it
seemed to obviously fit with some telepathic overlay of Lufti's ride, so I had
no problem figuring out where to put it in the story.
I seem to recall having seen that empty
drawer with the old stamp in waking life, too, I think in Grandma's house, but
it's hard to imagine any drawer in her home or mine not stuffed with
things. Having barely survived the Great
Depression, Grandma was something of a hoarder, and taught me similar habits
that I'm struggling to break. I think
the drawer had just been cleaned out.
Yet the waking and the dreaming
memories don't match in emotion. Grandma
was as generous as the Bitter Woman was stingy—having nearly starved to death,
herself, she could not bear the thought of anyone doing without (unlike a
friend's father, who responded to the same trauma by having his own separate refrigerator
from the rest of the family's and once savagely beat his son for "stealing" a
banana from his personal cache.) The
waking-life drawer felt like a fresh start, but the one in the dream, in a
furnishing clearly intended for hospitality, felt mean.
Grandma's hoarding was never mean. She never threw anything away, but she gave
away much. She kept it all just in case
anybody might need it. You had to be
careful what you said about anything in her house, or she'd give it to you.
Could the lack of generosity be
mine? Am I sometimes empty of all but
feelings stamped out of date? Whatever
my anger over the past, I must never forget the generosity that accompanied
everything, that it was never all bad, that Grandma and my family tried their
best to be good people, and truly did love.
Their hospitality was never empty!
The main thing I remember about the
dream of Kiril and Luft's reunion is threatening to smother him if he talked,
my heart pounding in fear to hear myself say it, hoping to never have to follow
through. I had to, in those, days,
silence that which in me could be madness or vision, tell it to only speak with
permission, at the right time and place, lest I smother it altogether—and at
the same time feeling the desperate hope that I might never have to actually do
that. And in fact I never did. Really, that differentiates madness from
vision: conscious guidance.
Again, the main thing I dreamed of
Zofia's scene, at the end, was the hospitality-bureau with the homemade
handkerchiefs in it. This showed the
right way to deal with the past: worn out for its original intent, I should
repurpose it, artfully and patiently, so that it might become a comfort for
others, to wipe away tears or sweat. And
what does this mean? That I can draw
comfort from the things that I have survived because I learned, in the process,
skills that can help others get through.