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A bunch of dreams, and then some more dreams. Dreams within dreams. Is life itself a dream? Why are these all called Dreamscapes, anyway? Who are we and where do we come from?

Dreams i (21/26)

August 5, 1997

Choose a different dreamscape

Players: Dex Lightmore + his group of wealthy friends, who I am accompanying. Perhaps Tommy, Ethan definitely, Addison(?), the kid w/the odd head whom Addison once described as ‘malleable’, who later turned up at the sangria bar in Paris muttering about “where’s the equipment?” and teasing/taunting/torturing my heroin-addicted friend. Who played that game where you put your fingers as an ‘O’ on your chest or I guess below your belt or somewhere and if the other guy looks at it, you win. Except if the other guy puts his finger IN the ‘O’ without looking, then he wins. Unless you catch his finger in the ‘O’, in which case you win. Fluttering your hand and his trapped finger, up and away. Or something like that. Anyway, there was also a short, dark-haired, bitter cynical witchy girl looking somewhat like Addie Sheedy before her transformation in The Breakfast Club. Others for sure: a whole group of his typical cynical rich friends. There’s one part on a beach in foul weather goofing around by a large semi-constructed or semi-decaying structure that clearly suffers from heavy surf and rain damage.

But mainly begins upstairs in an apartment/classroom. It’s like we’re a team maybe, and the malleable guy has this sweatshirt on w/a pressed image of cows, maybe some cartoon image (Far Side maybe?) that might represent our team which may or may not be called “Skid Marks”. The topic of the shirt arises. It develops that he manufactured it the night before, using some special machine and an image he found on the internet searching under “James Dean.” I’m amazed that he has the equipment and wherewithal to do such a thing. I ask a question to ascertain whether this is the case, and he reacts violently, saying something about having too much something (time maybe?) I say, “…and too many toys…” He gets very pissed off, lashes back with some abusive comment. I let it settle for a minute, then try to explain myself, “I wasn’t judging you.” 

He responds: “You don’t think I’m funny?” Clearly catching me in a paradox because either I judge him, or I probably further insult him. Anyway, he’s turned it into a joke, and I follow that lead saying, “No,” but with a straight face, a poker face.

Now, however, a rift has developed, and many people are mad at me, accusing me of something. There’s another room. Ethan is mock crying as someone accuses or informs him that they ARE different (speaking of the present group). They have a lot of money. Ethan is pretending to cry, hugging himself, rocking back and forth, but is really quite pleased w/this assessment and the truth of it, I think.

Back downstairs, in our own place, I explain this whole previous scene to Jules. One of “them” who is also one of us arrives: a young girl: Jennifer Lou (?) arrives to tell me that they’re all pissed (as if I didn’t know this) but that I was right in my actions + words. Back out in a communal area, they all have gathered. I’m quiet. Jules might be trying to diplomatize the scene. The bitter dark-haired girl says, “Would it be too much to ask our hosts for some coffee?” Says it in such a way that it’s an order. Jules at first jumps up to comply, because it is our apartment (or nearly so) and she’s been raised to offer guests coffee and she feels bad that she didn’t. But she also immediately senses the malevolence and manipulation of the intent of the assertion and she stops, unwilling to be party to this girl’s game. But the girl is right. Jules physically turns back and forth, indecisive, perhaps even emitting small sounds of frustration. Behind her, I can see bitter-girl giggling w/another, enjoying the show and affirmation of her belief that Jules is pure middle class values and housewife propriety. I don’t know whose side I’m on. In my mind, I know Jules should have swallowed pride, gotten the damned coffee and served it like nothing was out of place. At the same time, I can fully appreciate her reluctance to do so and rising dislike of bitter girl. At the same time, I also see that she’s only making it worse, because what’s she really going to do, in the end: sit back down without serving coffee? Confront the bitter girl? I say, “Oh, oh, she’s done it now. You’re going to blow a fuse.” (Referring to how Jules is caught between these two opposing poles of action). Jules painfully decides on a whole other tack, produces a photo of our wedding w/lots of clearly happy young people caught in a candid antic, posing much like that group of young kids on the back of the Yellow Pages, the “can you spot the drug dealer?” shot. For some reason this unexpected gambit works! Many hands reach for the photo to see the group of clear, unclouded-by-cynicism group of, like, Jule’s Williams’ friends who are always so straightforward and nice. Dex is in the photo also, sideways, his head tilted like another kid’s bowtie. 

Before any of this, however, when Jen first came down, we discussed the dynamic of the group. I said, “They never say anything.” Referring to the artfully maintained surface of ribbing and repartee. She agreed + and I could tell she thought that we, on the other hand (and comparatively) do “say” things, that we were saying things right now at that very moment. It was profound.

So, then, finally, I head outside to where we part. On my way down, I think of how distant + separated from that group I have become, how only yesterday I might have actually called Malleable Guy to see what he was up to, to hang out. Outside, there’s more confusion + bad vibes. Jules whispers that I’ve really done it, that she’ll tell me the details later when we’re alone. I look over at the others and I tell Jules, “It doesn’t matter, I’ll never see these people again.” Because this has been the last day of something (school?), and we’re heading in different directions anyway. Dex is still by me. He has managed to keep himself completely out of the friction, agnostic, retaining his usual sincere attitude of goofy humor, talking about the photograph. 

Earlier, one of the other guys leafed through this photobook, commenting on the technical + artistic merits of some burl-wood carving done + photographed by my dad or/and mom. I was quite pleased by his admiration although I was careful not to betray this. He said, “Hey so-and-so, come give this an 8.” They explained to me that this was a term coined by W.H. Auden. Auden, apparently once said: “Some things should be left until last, or even 8th.” A mysterious directive, maybe from his deathbed. They use it now in a cryptic corollary.

Anyway, a useless flaccid dream, now that I’ve killed it onto paper, but oh-so-vital in my mind as I slept. So real and unstoppable in its advance. Relentless.

And there I was, look!: layering contact paper into clean drawers (yes, wiped with Pledge) in which to put my clothes. Me! Layering contact paper. What have I become? And there’s not enough space, either. We need more drawers, more shelf space. What I wouldn’t do, for instance, for a drawer beneath my desk. Just one. One small, measly drawer. Is that too much to ask?

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