Sunday, June 18, 2006

The edge of the world

I just woke up from a dream.

I was trying to tell a student about a town he should visit. It's like Savannah, except it's smaller and better. It's the northernmost point of the United States. There's a little town, and waterfront. The main streets of the town come to a point, where there're a few entertainment businesses and nightspots and restaurants on the water. One of the businesses is built up on pilings, so that you can walk down from the road, underneath the business and out again, to the cold beach, rich with wildlife, and look out toward the edge of the world.

I couldn't remember the name of the town. It was making me batty. I made him get up from the computer, and I sat down and googled. I googled images, I google-mapped, I googled... and Google failed me. Despite the lovely head-and-shoulders massage the student was giving me, the frustration of being unable to find this place finally got to me, and I woke up.

After waking, I lay in bed frowning, trying to remember the name of the town. I'm awake now, so why can't I remember it? I went over some of the points of the dream in my mind... and the word "Savannah" stopped me. Savannah? In the dream, Savannah was the bigger, better-known destination near the town I tried to locate. But Savannah is in Georgia. It's nowhere near the northernmost point of the country. And when I'd said this place was like Savannah, I'd meant Key West, of course, the southernmost point of the United States, with two streets that end at that point, at the water, where many people each day have their pictures taken.

Listening to Luther's puttering sounds (oh goodie, he went downstairs and turned the coffee pot on!), I slowly realized that the northernmost town with the name I can't remember... only exists in my dreams. But the frustration is very real because I have indeed been there before. Several times.

Do you revisit places in your dreams?

The northernmost point has appeared in my dreams often. There is something like a river that comes up along the northwestern shore, with wilderness along the other side. Sometimes, in my dreams, I come up this waterway in a canoe, a kayak, a steamboat, a motorboat. Sometimes it's almost tropical, with alligators. I am sure to land at the town, because here is where the water is becoming dangerous, although sometimes I see whales and seals. The river opens onto some kind of bay (I'd have the correct terms if I'd paid more attention in Geography class, I'm sure), and sometimes there is an island in the center of it, and sometimes there is just water and a giant whirlpool, so coming in to the town is risky as you skirt the influence at the edges. But it is the point beyond the island/whirlpool that my heart always goes to in the dream. The beyond. The unknown, untraveled, silent emptiness of the North, on the icy water.

It's magnetic. Cheesy, I know.

I don't remember when I have visited before, or what happened in the dreams. Sometimes I get there by car, over hilly islands like the Eastern provinces of Canada. I don't think I've recognized it as recurring, before, but I know it now.This hasn't been my only recurring dream space. The last one I remember was a glass house. I came down to it from a cliff, down hiking trails marked by the Bureau of Parks or whatever, in the gathering darkness of evening. Sometimes I was pursued by mountain lions. Sometimes I died. But usually I came to the house at last, not intentionally, finding a glass house in the middle of a meadow, and feeling drawn in. I'd go to the house and step inside. And there was a dead man, a skeleton, a ghost in a chair. And I knew, I think, that I was also dead.

What amazes me is the landscape of it all. What if I could pull out all these parts of my dream world and establish them together in a shifting landscape that I could actually navigate? When I was small, I learned how to force myself awake from a nightmare, by opening my dream eyes wider and wider until my real eyes responded. Given the superimposed real world on my dream, I could choose the real and go to it. If I could now map out my wider dream landscape, what more could I control, I wonder?

No comments: