Sunday, December 24, 2023



As I have said before, most of my dreams now are recurring, and lucid.  The dominant themes are incompetence and futility.  On a deep level I must see these as markers for my life.

This dream was different.  My wife and I were young marrieds.  She was Chinese.  We had just come home from our local movie theatre, on foot, and were ascending the stairs to our third-floor apartment.  It so happened that our neighbor, her good friend, was descending.  She didn't say anything to me when we met on the stairs, but she embraced my wife, and the ensuing rather intense conversation between them made it clear to me after a bit that Cheryl knew, as I did not, that my wife would leave me that very evening.

Once behind closed doors, my reaction was to cling to her as to a life ring in a desperate sea.  I backed her up to our bed, then pushed her carefully down onto it on her back, then rolled us both 90 degrees.

Her main complaint, it turned out, was that I had ice in my veins.  She brought up an incident that took place about two years earlier.  We were driving home from the Berkshires, late at night.  I did not see a big piece of metal in the road.  I hit it, and the left front wheel of our car came off entirely!  I managed nevertheless to direct the car onto the right-hand shoulder.

While we were waiting for help to arrive, I hummed a little tune.  I did not know it then, but my implacability in the moment, and from time to time thereafter, she saw as a deep vice.  In reality, humming the tune was a bit of an inauthentic act reflecting two things -- my satisfaction that I had not panicked, which perhaps had saved us from disaster, and a concern that she not freak out, for her own sake but also to make things go more smoothly when the cops arrived.

Still clinging, I did not try to defend myself from the baseless charge. I knew it wouldn't do any good. But my copious tears spoke for themselves.  It was as if my myriad sources of grief had all come together in a single pool.

The dream though.  It leapt forward from that point another 20 years!  In all of that time, I did not even take any baby steps towards finding another ostensible life partner.  Rather, and strangely, I turned to God!  Because my God was abstract, and a figment, I could be sure that He would not let me down.  I had designed Him as The One Who Would Not Let Me Down.

I kept my newfound religiosity even from my closest friends.  I bought a rosary that was expensive as these things go.  It had been blessed by Thomas Merton.  I hid it in a little drawer at my bedside, together with a book that the holy monk had written.  I became like one of those bereft little old ladies who find solace in attendance each day at the 6AM Mass.

On social media she looked content, cheerful even, and her two daughters looked bright and happy.  Her husband looked like he was carrying a burden, the burden that comes with having a wayward child and knowing that she would never, ever be "all right."

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