I had what I call a dreamer’s dream Friday night.
When I woke up I felt younger and lighter. I woke up with twitchy toes and messy hair. I woke up craving apple pie and hot chocolate with small marshmallows.
I tried to dream it again last night. I closed my eyes and breathed as deep as the ocean. I remembered giant falling leaves and twisting roads, green hills and amber sunsets. I remembered the way the wind felt, the smell of strangers’ kitchens. I remembered plaid curtains and blue tiled countertops. I willed these things back into my head thinking I could create a sequel last night.
But dreams don’t work that way, which is what makes them so seductive and intoxicating.
You can’t buy your dreams on iTunes. You can’t press repeat, or burn ’em on a disc and listen to ’em on your way to work. They happen and then they’re gone.
Like a fire in my head, they spark and sizzle and pop and crackle.
Usually, I wake up feeling like a film reel is burning in my brain. Pictures and people start vanishing. Scenes start unfurling and disintegrating. Feelings I felt so intensely in the dream linger like an ember and then flicker out.
Regarding this, I say, appreciate your subconscious. It’s a fascinating galaxy. For some of us it’s the only place where we lose control. I’m addicted to dreaming, in particular lucid dreams, of which I have many.
Like a sinner who becomes a born-again Christian, I was an insomniac before I became a lucid dreamer.
I’m not sure if Friday night’s dream was lucid. I don’t recall directing it or realizing (as I often do) that I was dreaming. I only recall the wild ride, the hills and the kitchens.
I was on a bicycle.
I was riding with a a group of unidentifiable girlfriends. I feel like two of them were my sisters and one was my best friend, but I’m not sure. I know they were all women I was comfortable with and that we were all on bicycles. The bicycles were connected. Picture a freakishly long tandem bicycle. A bicycle for eight.
We were riding in what appeared to be Upstate New York. The leaves were changing. We were in the country. The sun was an hour away from setting, casting everything in a warm red glow. The wind was at our backs. The terrain was rolling and looked insurmountable, but we rode it effortlessly as if uphills were downhills.
We were all laughing.
The road was twisty and topsy-turvy, endless in its curves and lined with the tallest trees you’ve ever seen.
Maybe we were in Oregon.
As we continued on, storybook houses began to crop up on hilltops.
The houses were perfect triangles with red brick chimneys billowing smoke that smelled like pine logs. They had cobblestone driveways and well-tended gardens. They had bird feeders and painted mailboxes.
Some houses were white with blue shutters and others were blue with white shutters.
Upon approaching each house, the front door would swing open and we’d ride straight into the house, right into the kitchen.
The kitchens would smell like cakes and cookies and pies. Plump women in aprons would feed us as we pedaled past as if there were no obstacles at all, as if the road cut a path clear through the kitchen and out through the back door.
We never got off our bicycles and we never stopped moving. And as quickly as we entered the house, we just as quickly departed, our wheels hitting the pavement outside, sending us into a valley and up another hill, where we would enter another house, the front door flying open on its hinge.
Each house would smell better than the last.
Sometimes we’d come across children dancing, or a couple sitting at a table talking, or a woman bent over a sewing machine or a man adjusting his tie in the reflection of his microwave. Sometimes the house would be empty.
We were welcomed like old friends in each house we entered, as if the homeowners had been waiting for us. We were spoon fed sweet potato yams and wrapped in knitted scarves. If there was music on, we boogied on our bikes. If we interrupted a game of Trivial Pursuit, we played and always won.
Yet we never stayed for very long. After we’d taken in all we could take in, the back door would swing open, our bikes would jolt forward and we’d heartily wave goodbye.
Even though it was pointless, we never stopped pedaling. There was no tension on our bike chains. We were powered by some otherworldly force, as if we we were airborne, like Elliot riding with E.T. in our basket, flying by the light of the moon.
I wish I could tell you when we stopped moving, but I don’t think we ever did.
I don’t think our bikes had brakes.
PS. Photo by Howard Ignatius.