a dream, 11/17/2018

content note: accidental death 

I had a dream about the large extended family of a woman who had died young. On the anniversary of her death, I was watching the family explain what had happened, in the place where it had happened. 

The young woman was nineteen years old, and had just been married. The newlyweds moved into a modest but charming house with a big yard. The yard had quite a few trees, some fruit-bearing, some not, and so they set to work assessing them. The young man decided to chop down a tree to clear the space for a garden, and the young woman had climbed up a very tall fruit tree to check its health and the quality of its fruit. They were a bit like mangoes, but larger and more green. 

As I listened, the young man stood at the stump of the tree, pretending to chop at it with the axe he held in his hands. He explained that he had never cut down a strong old tree before, and it had proved much more difficult than he anticipated. As he kept chopping, he heard a terrible sound. A thud. His new wife had fallen from the tall tree, struck the ground, and died. 

I listened from the branches of the tree, which still stood, and looked toward him, where he stood at the stump where the other tree had been. The whole family was there, grandparents and siblings and honorary cousins, and the young women were in the tree. 

But when it came to the part in the story when she fell to her death, the young women of her family stepped out of the branches with billowing sheets of white fabric, parachutes, gliding softly through the air in graceful arabesques until they touched the dirt. 

Some of their movements were less like gentle falls and more like flight, their hands guiding the fabric in the air in a dance that was brief but slow and meditative, mournful but also with some touch of joy in the action. It was as if by recreating this tragic event in safety they could defang it somehow, defuse its power. 

Watching their skill I realized, this was not the first anniversary of this event. I looked at the young man and I realized he was not the widower – perhaps that was his grandfather, or his great-great-uncle, and it had been decided that this year he would play the part. Each year they told the story of the woman who had died, and each year they would keep her alive, floating softly to the ground on homemade wings. 

I dreamt there was a building, recently leased, perhaps after the death of an elderly someone, still filled with furnishings but being rearranged, prepared for new occupants. And so a sigil was removed from a door. And so at this something awoke, something arose from its waiting. Three figures slowly appeared under long swathes of red cloth, rising up from the floor like a magic trick. Without being able to see their faces I knew they were women, very old, so old, but they were the size of children. They were gliding across the floor toward me, I skirted around them to leave the room but they followed. They were whispering about what I had done, some sin I had committed. That wrong, of course, occurred long before I was born, committed not by me but by some other, but here I was to play the part, the sacrifice in some reenactment of justice imagined. It was pointless to deny it; we were all guilty, all. I said the words I was meant to. The three women turned into three small snakes with long fangs. I tried to tangle them in the long red robes, but they would bite me through the cloth. My hands stung, I feared poison, I feared worse. But then somehow, the snakes were becoming pencils, their fangs becoming graphite points, long and sharp. I snapped them into pieces, kept the pieces apart so they would not grow back together. I wrapped them in the red cloth. 

and in the early morning of Valentine’s Day, asleep in my childhood bedroom, I dreamt of kissing a man that I, by contract and construct, love at a distance, sitting across tables in silence. Wrestling each other to the ground off some old scenic couch, strangers and friends buzzing through the warehouse around us, and you told me how much you were trying. You told me that you are weird, and that loving you is hard, and you stuck your fingers in your blond hair that way that you do, and you told me that you’d been trying so hard, learning to let people close to you despite the labyrinth in your heart, despite the spidersilk and bulletproof and kiss-and-go. I kissed you on the floor in a leg lock, and your complete lack of reticence hit me like a truck in a sexy way. You told me you were still learning, but that you were making progress, and you got up to take a piss. I sat on the couch again, and someone I did not recognize came up and sat near me, and I had no words to explain how I felt, except the mild desire to punch something, but in a good, cute way. 

anxiety dreams.

Amanda and I have just moved into a new place, the top floor of a huge beautiful old building, it’s in a weird part of town but I’ve never had so much space and that’s thrilling. We finish moving in at 10pm on a Friday night, and are waffling as to whether that’s too late to invite everyone over for a housewarming. I’m being especially indecisive, and seeing that behavior in myself irritates me.

You answer my text from earlier in the day and say: hey, sid, it’s been fun, you’re rad and we’ve had a great run of it, but icymi I’m moving to New York in the morning.

I ask why, attempting to sound calm, and you respond: there’s this girl there who makes me feel like I’m on fire

I ask if I can see you tonight before you go, and run out of the house to meet you in a bar I’ve never been to before. At first I can’t find you, and run into Andres, who wants to roll my cigarettes even though he doesn’t smoke. I find you, and we are about to head outside for cigarettes and talking, and as I get my things I think about what I could possibly say:

I am completely and utterly in love with you, and the only demand I want to make of you is that you be here with me, that you not suddenly disappear, that your presence in my life continues to bring me joy and confirm that you too really and truly give a shit. 

I wake up before I hit the door, my Saturday morning hangover creeping over me, rubbing regret against my temples. I want to get back to sleep to know what happens.

I want to know what look happens to your face when I tell you exactly all the dumb romantic shit you make me feel, how I want to sell everything I own and live in a van with you, how I want to get drunk with you forever, how all the emotions I have about you make me want to have weirder and weirder sex, how you make me want to write a hundred books and learn how to give a tattoo in someone’s living room. 

I do not get to say these things, or see your reaction. I go back to sleep and am rushing to get to a performance venue, where I am underprepared for an elaborate routine. I am running late and take a cab, but as we approach the venue (a gigantic school), he starts asking me questions and speeds past our destination. He locks the doors, he is going to kidnap and rape me, but I somehow get my door unlocked and open while we fly down a busy street. I jump out, onto the dirty grass on the side of the road. He swerves to try and hit me, repeatedly, but eventually gives up. I get his license plate–some strange vanity plate that’s a pun on Jordan Almonds–and as night falls I walk back to the school, calling 911. 

The man on the line at 911 doesn’t believe me, or doesn’t care, and refuses to send any police officers to me, or medical staff to see if I’m okay after my jump from a fast-moving vehicle. I give up, and navigate through a massive crowd of children leaving the school and adults entering it, and finally get backstage.

It’s extremely dark, and Cassandra and Josh are waiting there for me. I realize I have forgotten all my props, in addition to not quite knowing the plan, which involves fake, black-light-glowing milk coming from my breasts in some kind of Madonna (Ciccone) and Child type deal in the midst of an elaborate dance number. I am freaked out and devastated and bleeding, but I start looking around for what we have to work with to make this show go on.

Every year, I have anxiety dreams.

Their content varies hugely. This year it was a glowering David Bowie disappointed in me for messing something up in our collaborative gallery show, and a panicked realization that it was Halloween, children were knocking on my door, and I had no candy and no costumes. In years past it has been zombie apocalypses, fights with my mother, horrific murder sprees, failed schoolwork. 

The waking varies too.

Previous years: Alone, in a panic, bolt upright in the 5am dark. In the afternoon sweat beside a poor decision. Stumbling my way to some school or work or meeting, only realizing hours later what the date was. 

This year, I found myself woken before my alarm, curled up around in a body full of warm blood and kindness, our skin covered in sunlight and cum and our foolish tattoos. I felt that silky kind of comfort, content to shift quietly from one position to another, finding different ways of fitting mostly-sleeping skins together until the day called us up out of bed. So why the stressful dreams? If I felt more relaxed than I had in … weeks, really, why was I a textbook case of nerves throughout the little movies in my head? 

And like I do every year, I eventually remembered the date. 

And so I imagine it will always be until I no longer know what time is: the early morning of September 11th gives me bad dreams. And yet I can at least hope that each year’s waking is as sweet. 

I dream we are on a train, hurtling through the night on the upper deck. I lost the ability to discern dream from desire, one method of fabrication from another. 

You look back at me over your uniformed shoulder, stern, and I know we are headed toward punishment. The infraction matters less than its swift address. We follow the rules, except when we don’t. I crawl down the aisle, past grey cushioned seats. I carry the leash in my mouth. 

We are on a sunlit sidewalk in a foreign country, Belgium, maybe, and I follow just a step behind you. Every few blocks you reach your hand back and slide it under my skirt, just one second’s touch, less, just the slightest press against my cunt to check again that yes, I am not wearing anything underneath, and yes, this belongs to you. 

We are in a large white bed on the shore of a lake, and your hand is on my throat. You kiss my cheeks and my temples and my gasping mouth. 

We are sitting in a familiar bar. We are in the bathroom of a familiar bar. We are in the alley along the back of a familiar bar. I am up against the wall and you are up against me, and the air is full of summertime night, sliding along our pushed-aside clothes. You make me beg. 

Dream (I don’t usually go for blonds). 2/9/14. 

We are sitting on my bed and talking, although it’s a bed and a room and an apartment that looks nothing like mine, and somehow I’m not sure if it’s in Chicago or somewhere in the Northeast. We had been sitting there a long time not speaking, and then we had been sitting there a long time speaking. The room was dim and it was late. We thought it was maybe 11:00; we looked and it was two in the morning. You said something about getting a cab, holding your phone sort of vaguely in one hand, the other in your hair, letting it spike up between your fingers all blond and kinetic. You sprawl out across the bed.

Somehow I have gone without moving from sitting up to laying down, my face close to yours. And then our lips are touching, this isn’t even kissing yet, just my lips and yours resting lightly against each other. I can feel how yours are chapped, the winter has only just ended, and you move back and forth ever so slightly. We stay this way a long minute, and then we kiss. There is stubble on your face but your mouth is so, so soft, and your spit tastes like honey and coffee and fresh tobacco and something else I can’t quite place or describe. It is so very good. Your body is all around me and it feels like we are slowly turning into silky water, lapping at each other. 

Then we are in a hallway in my actual Chicago apartment. You are asking me a question, and from a doorway I say yes, my answer is yes, for you everything and always is yes. 


there is a team of us, we are in a compound in the woods, a scientific research station. a group of us had just arrived, traveling a long way from some city, to join the researchers who had been there for some time. perhaps too long. 

stretches of plexiglass, the light through the trees. rows of potted plans inside, with small hand-written labels. we were all introduced, a strange tension running through the room, but he and I were laughing about something, excited to learn some strange new thing from these people who’d been working on growing living tissue that was somewhere between plant and animal. the how of it was murky. 

some argument occurred between the two teams, and then resolved, at which point the leader of the older team, a tall man with a long beard, shoved open one of the plexiglass doors, only for a moment. members of his team instantly panicked. “Vapors will get in!” they were yelling. Our group was confused; the door opened to the outdoor path around the building, where we had walked up on our approach. We had undergone no sterilizing precautions, and had no reason to think the air we had been breathing outside was hazardous. 

somehow, everything became very dangerous and moved very fast. they had been using alien tissue to grow creatures far more ambitious than we had known, and as they were exposed to something from outside, long stretches of vine, hefty spikes of aloe, blooming flowers, they started writhing, moving violently toward us. vines like powerful snakes, and bulbs like blades, driving at our bodies. there was only one snarl, and it attacked us. the thing, or things, pierced through his body like an arrow, low on his chest. I killed it, or he did, we somehow subdued the thing, pulled it into pieces with our hands. My initial thought, and probably his, was that he would die, that one small blade gone straight through. The look on his face. All the things I wanted to say were flowery, were beautiful sentiments that would not help him, so instead I called out instructions to the others, medical equipment, the removal of the beast, calling for outside help, did we have surgical equipment. I had my hands pressed against him to hold the blood in his body, and in that moment of panic, he looked at me and grinned. We stood there, bodies pressed together motionless in a flurry of activity, and grinned at each other like fools. How strange and exciting the world is, how lucky we are to see it and for someone else to get the joke. Then we both knew, with utter certainty, that he would be fine. 

Before I go to sleep, we are enjoying each other and saying goodbye. In my dream, we are enjoying each other and saying goodbye. I wake up, and we are enjoying each other and saying goodbye. I love you, and will always, always hold you in my heart, awake or dreaming. Bon courage, mon cher. 

dream: technical rehearsal (slow dance with white shoes)

I’m arriving late, everyone I know seems to be there, in elaborate costumes. We’re rehearsing for something. I walk through the space, looking for the corner that’s mine. I pass many friends and lovers in the first few steps, the men in dresses and the women in lingerie and wigs. I move to another room and settle on a stool to watch performances rehearsed. A very tall man in a monk’s robes performs with a video monitor, telling confusing jokes that come out funny in the end, when he strips of his robes to reveal glowing beads. 

You’re there, waiting to perform, and as you walk just past me I grab your arm. You grab mine back. We stay this way, muscles tensed and bodies close. A count of ten. You kiss me, long and slow and then again, as we move through the crowd to a tiny kitchen, built into the room, where some of the women are practicing their dances. A song is playing, one we both know. We slow dance, wearing matching white keds. We are very close, I can feel your hips and your cock and your ribs against me. I look at our feet. Our shoes are white but I’ve stepped in rust, or orange paint, and every time I step on your feet because I’m bad at dancing, I can see the mark left. I do not mind, because you do not mind. 

The sensation of slow dancing in a dirty white sneakers in a crowded kitchenette is making my heart bloom, my body fall apart. You kiss me again, and then I see a girl do a backbend right behind you, almost hitting you, and I laugh, and we let go. “I’m gonna go pee,” you say.

“I’m gonna go kill this boner with a notebook,” you say. “I’ll meet you back here later.” You are grinning at me in that way I like. I nod. We walk off in separate directions.

I head to the swimming pool in the basement to cool off, and get entangled in an argument about racial politics with some teenagers, and I wake up before you and I meet back up in the kitchen. 

I realize that in my dream you were clean-shaven, but when I saw you last you had a beard, and you look better with a beard, I think. I wanted so badly to take your photograph.