Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dreams of me …

Some mornings I wake with a thought as clear and brittle as if it had been etched in my soul by decades of remembering; from reading or reciting it, or passing it, a scratching on a rock on a well-trod path, something from the very habit of life. Then later, before the fog of sleep has cleared I’ll try to put it down, make sense of it by writing it out. But if I don’t move swiftly, if I wait and do anything at all that requires my mushy mind to work, it evaporates, and the thought that had been so clear, the one that had driven me from my bed and into the kitchen, is gone. There is however a residue, and often it is something familiar, not as sharp as the waking dream perhaps, but unmistakable nonetheless; a fear, a worry, an obsession, a hope, and it lingers like the scent of a wet dog on my skin. This morning the day has begun with something like a dream of dying, a thought that has been on my mind lately, loosing a friend not long ago and more. Last night I was holding HH in my lap while brushing his teeth, when all at once he nuzzled his head into my chest and held himself there for a beat or two, then drew a huge smile on his face and said, “Papa, sitting on your tummy is wonderful. When I was a little baby I used to have so much fun playing with you.”

After I had put him to bed I sat where I am sitting right now and wondered how much he could possibly recall about our time together “when he was a baby.” He is only four. And I also wondered how much he would recall when he was older, when I was long gone. One of the curses of being a father at fifty it that you wonder (at least I do) about how long you will be with your child, how much time there will be to build memories, whether you will be remembered at all for the things that really took place or if the talk of you will be some mix of mostly fiction, colored with a dusting of fact from snapshots and home movies. In my experience, remembering your dreams (or much of anything else for that matter) is an exercise in creative writing, from the germ of the actual dream I fill in the blanks of the parts I’ve forgotten by the time I’ve fired up the keyboard and thrown down my first cup of coffee. Something like that; half-fiction, half-fact, a dreamy stew of the imagination, is what I imagine will be his memory of me.

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