I don’t believe I’ve dreamt about Beth, my ex-girlfriend in San Francisco, since our relationship wore thin and fell into tatters throughout last summer. Even when we were together, I only occasionally met her during my night travels. Early this morning though, I chanced across her after alighting on the shores of a dream.
We are at brunch, she slouching back in a chair wearing a loose, white top and matching flared pants, her hands in her pockets, and talking with my friend Remy, a fashionable industrial designer. We aren’t sitting next to each other and I’m speaking to someone else. Later on, in the helicopter, as our bodies disappear and our feet touch, she says, “Remy invited me out for breakfast next week.” Jealousy.
Then we’re in the driveway of the house I grew up in, in Illinois. There are two cars parked, one behind the other, on the righthand side of the driveway. In front of the lefthand side there’s an empty space, and then a mattress. Beth whispers in my ear, “I want this to be really special.”
She has made a set of pillows for the bed. Two are brown with green felt grass sewn along the top edge. The other two are green with felt flowers along the top. They do look very sweet, I must admit. At that moment the left side of the house above the garage folds open like the door of a small jet, and stairs descend into the empty space in the driveway. My dad climbs down from the room above the garage that doubles as his office.
He looks fresher than I’ve ever seen him, wearing a white canvas beach hat, brim folded down, DJ-style, an olive-brown shirt, brown trousers with a white tie and white trainers. He tries to sneak off to God knows where, but my mom appears from between the parked cars and marches him back upstairs. They don’t see us.
Beth asks, “Can you put on some music?” I fumble around in the garage for some records but come up empty handed. Back in bed I’m noticing that, lying in the middle of the driveway, I feel neither amorous or sexy. It just feels odd to me, laying there together in the twilight.
When darkness falls, however, I unbutton the side of Beth’s overalls and give them a tug exposing her soft stomach, her gentle curves, and deep navel. I let my palm take in the full pleasure of her downy skin, the shape of her waist, and the warm hollow of her back.
She feels good to me like hundreds of times in the still-familiar past. Holding her close in her spangles and silver jewelry, I ask, “Have you slept with anyone else since we broke up?” She pauses for a moment as if considering technicalities. “Mmmm, no.” But there the cord holding that singular tension was cut.
I spent a long time afterwards, in the river of sleep, looking back at our shared past, seeing only still photos, and hard-edged blocks that wouldn’t change.
Over the last couple of weeks there’s been a tension drawing itself tighter around my chest—I’m not sure from where it stems—but it constricts with a steady, even pressure such that I forget to breathe. I suspect that this tension is fueled either by the future, money, or work. I’m not sure which.
Either that or its fueled by this journal and where it’s going. I’m not sure I want to keep sending it through the big machine. Perhaps these words need to travel more slowly. Perhaps it would be better not to leave the traces of my life on so many servers. Perhaps I just don’t want my parents reading about how I almost had sex with my ex-girlfriend in our old driveway. It could be any of those I suppose.
To clarify that last paragraph, at the time I was sending my journal posts to friends and family via email, and I think starting to feel a little self conscious. Twenty-three years on, I’m feeling less so.
But also, What does it mean? That I somehow felt self conscious of my relationship with Beth? And what does it say about my perception of my parents’ relationship at the time, or my apparent desire for fidelity, even after the end of the relationship? And the hard-edged blocks? Did they represent elements of my logical/rational mind that my subconscious wanted to show me were perhaps too rigid?
Or was the dream just showing me that I still desired Beth and had some fears and blocks in the way? Maybe that was it.