San Juan Bautista, California, 2016Feb03
I dreamed that Frances and I were at one of those 1970’s-style hippie parties such as Suzanne, little Gabriel and I occasionally went to in the Oregon countryside around Portland. But this time the location was more like the area around Mendocino, California, with perhaps a couple dozen people – acquaintances and otherwise, kids and grown-ups, having a laid-back time at a little farm that resembled a clearing in the Caspar woods. A hand-built house and out-buildings, tall fences to keep the deer out of the gardens, a quarter-mile dirt driveway off the main road. Not everyone was interesting, but we were all getting along, in the sunshine and the shade, with organic food, diverse conversation, and live music by folks with guitars and voices and of course our violin and cello.
Eventually the sun began to set, twilight crept upon the scene, and the decision was made for some of us to pick up and go to another friend’s place, not too far away. Frances would go as part of the group she was talking with, and I would drive “Emma,” our good old camper-van, to get there on my own. The directions were no mystery; the places and people were familiar.
So I cranked up the engine and drove slowly through the woods with the window open, across a meadow, alongside a stream, enjoying the un-hurried bounce of the old suspension as it accommodated the bumps and dips, feeling happy and enveloped in a sea of little animal sounds – frogs, birds, insects – as the warm night approached.
It was getting very dark and the road was slightly widening, which suggested there might be other vehicles to consider, yet I didn’t turn on the headlights. Maybe they didn’t work or maybe I didn’t want their stabbing intrusion on the natural ambience. The surrounding trees were tall and dense enough that even if there had been a moon it would not have made for easy seeing. But there was no moon, and the star-light was barely enough to see by. I drove more and more slowly, down-shifted to first gear, and crept ahead by intermittent glimpses and an active imagination, until I could just make out a widening to the right that offered some safe passing room in case a car should come along from either direction. I stopped there and got out.
Now I was shuffling slowly on foot, enjoying the warm breeze and the night sounds and the quiet crunch of my shoes, step by cautious step. I didn’t know which way to go, but somehow it didn’t matter very much. Was I looking for a turn-off to the dirt driveway that would take me to my destination? Was I hoping someone else would come along? Perhaps the folks that Frances was coming with? Would I be able to retrace my steps and find Emma if I needed to? Why was it so dark? Usually I can see something even on the darkest night, at least the stars, if they are out and I look straight up. Especially this far away from any city light pollution. Something was wrong.
Suddenly I realized I was carefully feeling my way along to avoid stumbling … with my eyes closed! Of course on a very dark night it might not make any difference. But maybe I should give my sight a chance, maybe there was some guiding light out there that I was missing. So I popped my eyes open.
Dazzling light all around, colors, sounds of happy, busy people, kids playing. It looked like I was in the middle of a little country party, not very different from the one I had left an hour or two before. The sun was out, the sky was blue, I had arrived. I looked to the right, and there was a cute little shingled house with Frances standing, smiling in the doorway.
The metaphor was not lost on me, as the Beatles sang, “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” I woke up and told this dream to my sweet wife in the predawn bedroom dark. She articulated the metaphor before I did, and we laughed, before falling back to sleep.