Opening Pages this morning to record some meeting minutes, I noticed a document called “a dream in time”. Something I wrote and promptly forgot about, and maybe just as well. Influenced by Outlander, a time traveling book that did not impress me, well other than the intriguing topic of time travel, I was inspired to write this little piece. And today I am inspired to share it with you, for better or worse. As one of the friends I lost when I started speaking out about my political views used to say “I don’t write fiction.” Here’s to you, Jersey Girl.
Written July 14, 2014
Another day on the road, another evening with a glass of wine and a bit of a headache. I’m starting to think these 200 mile days will run me into the ground. But no savior has appeared, will appear; I am my own savior. Hoist on my own petard! Life’s funny. I put down the wine and close the porch door behind me. Time to go to bed with the latest Philippa Gregory and fall asleep to dream of Tudor England. I wish.
Eyes heavy, I say out loud to myself “Just finish this chapter”, but it’s a losing battle. Glasses off, animals gathered around me like a furry wreath, I turn out the light and fluff up the pillow. Sleep comes quickly. But wait-all of a sudden I am very much awake-I am standing in my childhood bedroom! Some silly teenager with crazy hair sits at a makeup mirror, removing mascara and staring at herself. “Holy shit”, I exclaim aloud, but the girl doesn’t move. Can she hear me? I rub my eyes furiously. Is this a dream, I wonder? I pinch myself hard on the arm. Ouch!
That silly girl is me! Well this is one hell of dream. Time travel? I stare at the girl, trying to remember myself at that age. All I remember is longing and pain, and looking at her it jumps out at me again. Focused on nothing but the latest crush, smoking enough pot to numb the hidden misery of the secret I hold close but that still oozes out of me with every word and action.
I watch her climb into bed with headphones, those big padded things we used to wear, and fall asleep listening to the radio. What’s the book on the bedside table? Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. One of my favorites. (I smile as I remember the fine art of reading while walking; another escape valve of course.) But no homework tonight, or most nights. School is just a place she, I, go to every day to mark time, hang out with friends and chase after crushes, and get high. It’s a bore, and no savior in sight. I am my own savior, but my feet won’t move. I am stuck to the spot.
I fight the urge to go to her, to shake her awake, to bring her to her senses. I want to say “Look at your life! You are sleepwalking through the pain-it is time to take control. Wake up! Wake up! When they pass you the joint in the morning, just let it go by. Feel something, feel all of it, and then find something to do. Reach deep inside and trust yourself. You are power, you are beauty, you are light.”
Dare I say these things to her? Will she hear me? Will it change her life? My life?
I wake with a start, knocking my glasses off the bedside table. As my eyes adjust to the bit of light from the streetlamp sneaking around the shade, I pick up the glasses off the floor and glance at the book at my bedside. But it’s not Philippa Gregory. It’s Robert Heinlein-Stranger in a Strange Land.