Saturday, 18 October 2008


I don’t usually remember my dreams. But this morning I did. It wasn’t a dream exactly, more like something on this side of a nightmare. I was in a metropolis area that I did not recognize. It was a warm season because I was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, with the flimsiest sandals on my feet, the sort of paper scuffies they give you to pad around in, after a pedicure. Somehow they managed to stay on my feet, in one piece, as I travelled through this city, primarily on foot.

Throughout this perambulation a huge wave of disorientation surrounded me. I suddenly felt anxious to return home. But I couldn’t remember where “home” was. So there I was, wandering the streets, asking people, could they name various buildings, hotels, streets because I was lost, and if I heard a familiar name I might recognize it and then could they give me directions to get there? My anxiety increased with each rejection. Who was this crazed, scruffy woman? I awoke and immediately checked my feet.

Aha, I thought. That must the sensation that an Alzheimer victim feels on a regular or intermittent basis. How truly horrible. And yet, forget the Alzheimer’s tag. The more I analyzed this little immediate dream of mine, the more I realized that, in large part, I have walked in and around and through my entire life, never having been entirely sure where “home” is.

Even as a child, I never felt that I was an integrated part of my family. It was as if I simply resided with this group of individuals (two sisters, and a nice set of parents, as parents go) but for the most part drifted, in a semi-autistic world, above (or sometimes below) their conversations and gatherings. Gradually, I shifted from girl, to wife, to mother, to career, back to mother, then wife again, (adrift with someone who vaguely resembled the young, gorgeous man I once knew) and now to grandmother.

I visit my children’s homes as a foreigner to their lives. They invite me to share food and wine and their children, especially their children, when I am called upon to be a grandparent-practitioner in their cherished absence.

Looking at my grown children, they seem nothing like I imagined they would become. On the other hand, did I ever really entertain such images? More likely I was immersed in their immediate selves, as if that was the way they would always be. Forever laughing or arguing and forever my children. I remember the huge pangs of emptiness when they left home for university and, ultimately, their full-time adult lives. I think what I missed the most was their music. It filled the house with energy, arriving to my ear before and after their voices and the vibrations of their being.

So now, like so many women in their sixties and beyond, I seek to make a life for myself, apart from children, grandchildren and, yes, spouse. The mind is its own place, said William Blake, and clearly I am still searching for that place. I am aware of all the positive motifs of journey, evolution, change. My dream, however, did not elicit excitement and energy. Rather it was wrought with anxiety and confusion. Why is that? Perhaps I haven’t asked enough people for guidance through the morass of my life. Or maybe I just didn’t ask the right people? Is it too late? I wonder.

Perhaps tonight’s dream will provide some answers. Mostly, I wonder what I will be wearing on my feet.

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