The people you dream of


I had an interesting dream last night. In it were a couple of my friends from primary school, Lindsay and Lincoln.

L1 was always a lovely kid. He was sweet natured and generous. He was a good looking kid with a mop of Beatle-esque hair and a strong physical presence. I remember him as a gentle but robust soul who would do anything to help you out.

L2 was good looking too, blonde instead of brown-haired, but he was crazy as well. He was one of those willful, hard to control kids who marched to beat of his own private drum. I remember him once swallowing a goldfish, and another time a girl called Merryn complaining because he’d flopped out his old fella sitting there looking at her in class.

So in the dream – which is vague – we’re all somewhere down by the seaside when we’re dared to do something we’re not supposed to. There’s a bunch of us, not just L1 and L2, but other kids too and we’re all about 8-9. I seem to be taking the lead and the mission we’re on feels like an adventure, like something we’re supposed to do even if it’s not allowed, as if we need to do this as an expression of the individuals we’re becoming, like one of those things you do in all defiance of instruction because it feels the right thing to do.

So we progress. We travel along the coastline, which is beautiful, to a point where we’ve been expressly forbidden, though we’re still short of our destination. One of the boys is quivering. “My daddy told me not to come here,” he says. But then there’s a beckoning voice, a woman’s voice, alluring at any age, but particularly to an adventurous eight year old determined to prove himself. She’s teasing, recognising our doubts and our fears, and gently playing on them like a siren, “don’t you want too…”, daring us to overcome our reservations. And, at my insistence, we do.

That’s pretty much the dream, but throughout it felt a positive dream, like a movie in a way, like something we’re supposed to do that will make a big difference to the people we become. This is our coming of age moment, and I sense it. And for some reason, out of all the people I went to school with, L1 and L2 are there with me.

Out of curiosity I googled them this morning. I haven’t seen L1 since I was about 20. He was still a lovely kid then, still good looking, though he’d levelled out at about 5’8”, but built square with huge shoulders. I wasn’t sure searching for him, but I found someone with the same name who looks little like the L1 I knew but is in the same area we grew up in. This one is a priest too, or a minister, and though that may seem unusual I remember had become spiritual and was heavily involved in the church. He’d been nothing like that at 10. On the balance of probability, I think it’s probably him – there’s only a head-shot to go by, and the pic I saw was of an ascetic-looking man with close shaved hair. And – looking at the pic again – I realise he’s the spitting image of his dad.

I haven’t seen L2 since we were about 12. Not surprisingly he left school under a shadow. A lot can happen in that time. He was taller than most then, but there’s a lot of growing for all of us after that age, and it’s different for everyone. This L2 I found is a notable architect these days and is about the right age – and the only person I found with his name in Melbourne. He looks roughly like the L2 I knew, older, more lived in. I always figured that part of his problem was he was smarter – more aware – than most, and it’s no surprise if he has in fact made something decent of his life.

I hope so for both of them. Strange to remember them now. Sort of nice though, too.

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Little pricks


I had a dream last night a little dweeb called Caleb Bond had published a novel to great acclaim. Bond is a young conservative columnist who looks like he hasn’t started to shave yet. He’s a fanboy of the conservative elements of the government and will occasionally indulge in the sort of breathless, fanboy prose that makes you feel like taking a shower after reading it. The rest of the time he’s a derisive, superficial critic of all things truly liberal. He’s a smug little prick with smug little prick views and just the sort of smug little prick you want to punch in the face. He and I are not close.

So anyway, in my dream, he opens up as the author of a novel that may be close to being a masterpiece and my world comes crumbling down.

For a start, how can someone I’ve dismissed so emphatically be capable of actual art? How does a smug little prick with the self-awareness of a gnat create something so layered with meaning and texture? And as I read it myself I become aware that the little cunt is actually the real deal. And, what the fuck, he’s actually got something published while I, heroic liberal that I am, slave away going in circles.

There’s a lot going on here. I mean, have I been so reductive in the first place that I can’t contemplate that someone might be more than their unimpressive public profile? What does that say about me? I wonder, where does art come from? What is the wellspring of it when clearly – as history shows – not all of its practitioners have been great characters (though generally, unlike Bond, have some talent)? I question everything, but what bites deepest is that he has done the very thing I seem incapable of doing – producing a work of art. That burns, and in the dream, I wonder if maybe I am a fucking snowflake after all.

Thankfully, it’s only a dream, and if that little suppository ever publishes anything worth reading I’ll join a monastery.

Where has this come from though? The Caleb Bond part of it is completely random. He’s a snide character, but so are most of his mates and I don’t waste much time worrying about any of them (though I’m curious how someone so young can hold such extreme conservative views- Keating used to call them ‘young fogies’).

What I really think is that this dream is a product – or reflection – of my own recent writing journey. It’s been bloody frustrating lately. Maybe Caleb Bond – a little prick – is the symbolic little prick to rouse me to greater effort?

I set myself to get to 50,000 words by the time I return to work on Monday. As of now, I’m a little over 45,000. I started off well this week, but then a combination of things sidetracked me – social events, hot weather, the cricket. Really though, what stopped me was that I’m at a creative loss just at the minute.

These episodes generally don’t worry me too much. I go back a little, I have a break, I take a look from different angles, and eventually, something will come to me. That’s been the case these last 15,000 words, but it’s not getting any easier, and even what I’ve done I’m not sure about.

I likened it the other day to driving on a winding mountain road at night with dim headlights. You’re not sure what’s coming up ahead, if you should turn left or right or keep going straight and you proceed tentatively, only to look back and wonder if you missed your turn and if you’re on the right road.

That’s where I’m at. I haven’t crashed yet, but I’m not sure where I am or where I’m heading.

The dreams that tell the tale


Had a series of dreams last night where I encountered women who looked at me with affection and sadness. I know none of these in real life, but in the dream it’s clear that at some time in the past I’d had a ‘thing’ with each of them, and for each of them when it ended they were left frustrated and unhappy. For me encountering them, I felt a mix of yearning and affection, sorrow and regret. I had loved these women, and in ways I did still, but it was only now I realised what I had lost.

I woke up with the dreams fresh in me. I lay there in the hour before 6am thinking about the dreams and then responding in my mind to one of the women in particular. She was the woman I had loved most, the woman who had loved me best too. She was there in front of me as I responded, having by now slipped back into a kind of waking dream.

“I loved you I told her, but there were so many things I wanted to do. So many places I wanted to go, things I wanted to try. I didn’t understand, except that I thought because I couldn’t promise 100% to you that I couldn’t commit. I was ever like that, with everyone, not knowing that things might end or time might pass. I was wrong, and now I know it. I’m sorry for what happened. I should have known better, and should never have let you go. I loved you, and will always love you”

As I’m telling her this she is looking at me with tears in her eyes. I am full of regret, and while I hope she will forgive me there is a part of me hoping she will give me another chance. Too late I have realised that she was the woman I truly loved, and the thought that I will be separated from her for the rest of my life is piteous.

There’s a lot of sense in dreams sometimes. They tell the story I’m afraid to admit to.

Signifying what?


It’s a lovely morning and as always I caught the train into work. I found a seat by the window, slipped my headphones on and looked out the window as the train filled up about me. U used to get off at Richmond to catch a connecting train through the loop, but lately I’ve stayed on the train to ride all the way in to Flinders Street. It makes a change, and that’s reason enough, but the exercise I get walking the extra distance to work is a bonus.

And so at Flinders Street I alighted the train and joined the crowd exiting the station. I took the underground tunnel from mid-platform that runs under the tracks and exits at Degraves Street. It’s a very well-worn route for me, reminiscent of other times, other jobs, other journeys. It’s been a while since I travelled that way, but was gratified to see the same busker in the tunnel as there was nearly 10 years ago. Things don’t change as much as you imagine them to.

I’m in a blue suit today with tan shoes and belt, and a pale blue shirt. The shoes are slip-on, but only because my lace-ups need a cobbler. I come out of the tunnel, up the stairs and into Degraves Street. The cafes there are busy with people having breakfast, some before work, but most probably tourists. I wend my way through the crowd and through another familiar arcade to Collins Street. The sun is shining, though they say it will rain later. I feel the part in Collins Street. I like wearing this suit, being this man.

I like being in the heart of the city this time of day too. It is a smidge past 8am. The cafes are doing a roaring trade, but otherwise the plethora of retail stores are still closed, or just beginning to open. It feels new, like a bud about to burst. Later there will be people everywhere and buskers playing and advertised specials, for this moment I can still hear the ring of my shoes upon the stone ground.

It’s good to walk to work like that. It feels an appropriate entry to the day, and especially to work. The walk gets the blood pumping and idle thoughts transition to vague intentions.

On Elizabeth street the trams trundle down the road as I walk through a near empty mall and past the old GPO building (now it’s a H&M store). Soon I’m approaching work. I’m mellow, but feel something coiled in me. There always is.

This is the man suited up and with a game face slowly forming. Earlier I was more naked in my self.

As I did a couple of months ago I dreamed about the Irish girl again last night. The first time was a surprise, the second times feels meaningful. I dream all the time, but what is different about these dreams (and select others) is that I wake with fond affection. That’s what surprises me, and what I try to interpret. Is the Irish girl symbolic of something, as I believed last time, or is it her?

There’s not much to say about the dream except that in it I like her a lot. We are friendly, but there is nothing between us. I want to get closer to her, and perhaps she is willing, but I find it hard to bridge the gap. I’m shy and uncertain in the dream, almost bashful. I’m not the man in the blue suit. It’s a familiar feeling to me, though not felt for a very long time. I think most people have felt it at some time. It may be awkward, but its’s a good feeling. It’s good because it contains hope and gentle yearning and welcome humility, and it’s good because it signifies something real.

That’s what I wake with then, the residue of that feeling, and I wonder: what does it signify now?

How odd is it that I dream of the same woman twice now in very similar ways when I have not seen her for years and rarely – if ever – found myself thinking of her in my waking hours? I wish I knew these things.

The dream, I think, worked out okay, and immediately after waking, when I was getting myself ready for work and putting that blue suit on I wondered if I should contact her? Was that what it was telling me? Would that be appropriate, or creepy? And what would I say?

I worry that there is meaning to this that I don’t act on will lose. I’ve lost things before, and sometimes because I’ve been too much blue suit. Wht the fuck does it mean?

Convolutions


I had a peculiar experience of déjà vu this morning that for a moment had me ponder if I was experiencing Groundhog Day.

I’m walking to the station from home to catch the morning train. As I do every morning I turn into a small right of way that runs alongside the railway tracks. Then, exactly as yesterday, I had to pause as the very same vehicle as before backed from the garage into the street. Thirty metres on up the road I encounter once more the same woman as yesterday in the very same place out walking her same two dogs. The only difference today was that she carried two coffees.

Same time, same place, same actual incidents two days running when on all the previous occasions I’ve walked to work I’ve never encountered one of them, let alone both. Just a fluke I guess.

Earlier I had strange and disruptive dreams. There were many interesting fragments, but there was one that continued to resonate with me after I woke. I was with an attractive, intelligent woman, my sort of woman I knew even in the dream. I was drawn to her and she liked me, but I was in a sorry state. There was the sense that I want to do more with this woman, but the time was not right. And I felt I was not giving a good account of myself because I had my mind on other things. I felt regret, even dismay, but let it go.

Waking I scanned my memory wondering who the woman could be. Sometimes your dreams create characters and faces from thin air, but this person was real, I was sure.

In a few minutes I remembered. She was an Irish girl I employed a few years back as a masseuse. She was a few years older than the other girls, and attractive, bright, intelligent woman with whom I hit it off immediately. I remember one evening in the shop sharing a bottle of wine and sharing our stories. I liked her, but had never thought her as physically attractive as she appeared in the dream – though, I felt, the dream was a truer reflection.

Why have I dreamed of her now then? In recent weeks she has popped up in my Facebook feed as someone I might know. Every time she appears there my eyes are drawn to her. She is back in Ireland now and far away, and turn the page and she is out of my mind.

It’s not about her, I think. She is a symbol. And the tale of the dream so apt. For years I have set these things aside regretfully. At times I have felt ‘not myself’. I’m past that now, and I’m keen to move on in general. I’m unsure how though, and there remains a part of me who questions the wisdom of it when I am still deep in the woods.

The convolutions of the mind are a strange and fantastic thing. If only I understood them more then I would be a wise man.

 

A face in the crowd


I’ve had active dreams latterly. Many of the dreams have been brooding, but not all. I had an enjoyable dream last week full of the most enjoyable (and periodically, acrobatic) sex. I wish I could describe it here but I’m mindful of the kiddies. Notably I realised I couldn’t live without the woman in my dreams (a stranger) because I couldn’t live without such scintillating sex. And she felt the same.

Last night the dream was different. The narrative is irrelevant, but the clear message bears repeating. It might sound negative but the point of it was that you are not as special as you think you are. We all embellish. We don’t see ourselves truly. Because we desire we presume to see ourselves in a certain light. The truth is we are all more mediocre than we think ourselves to be.

I remember in the dream thinking ‘but I want to be special’. Fine was the response, you may have gifts that can make you special but in the ruck and roil and general compromise of humankind they are all evened out. If you really want to be special you must do more than wish it. It is possible, but you must strive to make it so.

It was a thoughtful dream and afterwards I wondered where it came from. Dreams like this make me believe that they are a representation of things we are unwilling or unable to accept in our waking moments. There was a ring of truth to this, as if it was something I had realised somewhere deep in my mind but had never turned to face.

Thinking on it on the train to work this morning I was brought to mind of those remarkable photos of a great mass of people mingling together. They go in different directions, face different ways, but amid them there is the one face facing the camera our eyes are drawn to. Amid the crowd he is the one person we see.

That is how we see ourselves. That’s understandable, probably healthy. It’s worthwhile to remember the crowd to. Even this, my blog, this is my upturned face – but to most of the world this face is turned away, just another body in the tumult.

 

Dreams of bleak


I had a mixed weekend. On Friday I had JV over and we had pizza and a couple of bottles of red while we watched the footy. He’s a Swans supporter and it was a grand game until, after a stirring comeback, we contrived to lose a game that should have been unloseable. At that point I got a bit sweary. I’m not normally like that, but I did swear at the TV a few times. “Fuck you Luke Parker,” I said as the Swans player was interviewed post-match. “Fuck you Gary Rohan,” I said when the guy he sealed the match after the siren came on. Apologising to my mate I muted the Swans as they sang the song after the match.

Part of me was measured – it was a good performance and I’m confident that we’ll do some damage come the finals, and we were playing the in-form team on their own patch – but another part of me was gleefully feral.

To compound my general displeasure my phone shat itself as well. Vertical lines ran up and down the screen. I could hear messages being received, but couldn’t see or respond to them. I missed a brunch invitation Saturday because of it, and it was only after I fished out an old phone, charged it up and updated as necessary that I felt whole again.

The rest of the weekend was the usual, cooking and cleaning and writing and popping out for coffee with the Cheeses.

Last night I felt more weary than normal. I had a minor ear infection and maybe that took it out of me. I turned the light off earlier than normal and was soon to sleep.

I don’t know if it was the tribulations of the weekend but I found myself in the midst of vivid and quietly disturbing dreams. There was a bleak and depressing quality to them. As always I remember little but for a few frames. I am forlorn and lost. I wander the streets of my hometown with nothing to do and no money in my pocket. I come across a party of people I know at a bar, all dressed happy and in good spirits. They are family friends, people I have known for many years. Briefly I speak to them before moving on. Strangely, one of them is Paul Roos, the ex-footy player and coach.

A little later I come across them again, this time at a fancy restaurant. I am welcomed by Paul Roos. Without saying so he recognises that I am in dire straits. He is affable, encouraging me to join them, turning to the others there and with a quip enjoining their agreement. I know what they’re doing. They feel sorry for me. They know I have nothing. They are trying to get a good feed in me and for a few hours join them for agreeable company. They don’t admit to it but they pity me.

I resist. I always do. I don’t want charity. I don’t want any favours. I don’t want to be special in that way. Yet I know that I should. Paul Roos knows this. He knows how I am. Gently he encourages me to ignore my pride. No skin off their nose after all, and they like me – I may be down and out, but I’m still one of them. The dream ends with me wondering what to do.

The other dreams were all similar in nature. Taken as a whole they are disturbing.

Where does that come from? There was a moment on Sunday when I contemplated how the future might be – a sort of predictable purgatory, a world for me that never gets much worse than what it is now, but never any better. Year after year I eke out a basic existence without joy or indulgence. I scramble from week to week, month to month, year to year, just surviving. Then one day I die. It’s over, the water closes over me, I am forgotten.

That’s bleak too, and just about the worst possible thing I could envisage. Is this what led to the dreams?

For the record it will never be like that. I’d smash it all before going that way. In any case I’m confident that I can make things a lot better, I just get impatient sometimes for it to begin.