Secret Pop

Jul 8, 2004

I was riding a giraffe across Africa.

That was a dream I had. The giraffe bit. It's one of many, many dreams I've had in recent nights of staccato sleeping. I find myself fading in and out of strange near-realities. Sometimes confused and dizzying. Sometimes sweaty and fitful. Sometimes just slow and syrupy. Molasses-like. The dream you come up out of where your tongue feels so heavy you can't bear to speak and yet there's so much to say.

I have heard countless dream theories. Every character in your dream is you. This represents that. You're afraid of dying. But this is an area in which I am faithless. I don't know what things mean. And I think you're inclined to believe the interpretation that best suits your idea of yourself. Like when you go to a psychic and she asks you if there's someone in your life whose name begins with "K," and you go, "Yes!" and that somehow constitutes divination. And then she wants you to pay her a hundred dollars and to not eat any meat for the next week. Whatever. At the same time, I know it has to be part of something. Even if it's something primordial or something unimportant. I think whole lives are lived in dreams. Like that "Inner Light" episode of STTNG. I love that idea. Maybe that's how I can wrassle me some second chances. I sure needs 'em.

The faces that show up in my dreams follow no logic. Sometimes it's the boy I never see anymore. Or the one I have just seen. Or the one I should never see again. Sometimes it's my mother. Sometimes it's only someone pretending to be my mother. Sometimes it's the movie star or the bass player or the genius. Sometimes it's the character in the movie I never saw or the one in the book I never read. Sometimes it's a trace of an idea that can never be realized. Dreams are written in sand. And it's windy out.

I regret that I didn't take more pictures when I was younger. Even if I hated the way I looked. I'm sorry I didn't capture more of that time. I took up photography in high school and college and that led to a lot of images. But these days, I take pictures of my friends and the places we go and the things we eat and drink when we're there, and it isn't important, but it's beautiful. And one day when my memory requires jogging, it will all be there for me. The diaries I have kept over the years do the same thing for me. Only with pictures, you can keep the feelings secret. You can show a houseguest the album with all the photos from that amusement park day and he need never know that you were sad that day. You can show the raised glass photos and he needn't ever suspect that everything went wrong when the drinks went down. And maybe there's the added beautiful possibility that you might change the way you remember those things. And, without the guilty, damning words to lock you in to the sentiments, you might look at the photos one day and see an event that had nothing painful in it at all. That has been happening for me more and more.

So I look at the photo albums and I notice the gaps of the years when no pictures were taken. And I feel sad, because it makes it look as if there was no one I loved that year. No one who loved me. No puppies that made me gurgle and coo. No parents to get misty over. No crushing crushes. No fun times. No bad times. No times at all. It's just a void. Stasis. An ice age. I wish I had thought to save more of it. I have more bits and pieces than would be needed to fashion even the most prolific exhibit of my life and times. And yet, it's nearly blank. The canvas is so vast that all that is on it barely colors the corner. And when you stand far enough back that you can see all the edges, you are convinced that the canvas has nothing on it at all. This is what makes me want to travel in outer space. I think traveling in space is like painting with a larger brush. Maybe some of it will actually show up.

But there is no galaxy for me at the moment. There is only a bit of Los Angeles and the concern that there are too many blank pages in my various diaries. When all this is gone, will it be like I was never here? In the years where there were no pictures, I begin to wonder if I was ever there. So it stands to reason.

I am treasuring memories. Running my fingertips lovingly over photographs on matte paper. I am shying away from the recollections I know will hurt me. I am turning the light out on slideshows that shouldn't be watched. I want to sleep, but I know I won't. I tried to yesterday. Ever so determinedly. But it didn't work. I reached out in dream stupor. I saw the clock more times than anyone ever does. I felt the breeze and the buzzing in the night air and I pulled the sheets up to my chin and slid around under them. And waited. And eventually, sleep came. But it was like the party guest that has somewhere else to be. That guest is rude. And you will know not to invite him to your next affair. The nerve.

My landlord is willing to let me have a dog. So, I'm officially looking. It's the best thing ever.

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