I’ve had a dream, a dream that feels so real it has woke me up crying, but also so silly and nonsensical that it shouldn’t have me in such a knot.
There’s a man in my dream, a man who mysteriously disappeared years ago and whom everyone seems keen to find. I have clues about this man’s identity and whereabouts, and I have a partner helping me search him out. Like DB Cooper, there is intrigue surrounding the man in my dream.
I’m near an excavation pit, and I have charts and maps and diagrams; it’s like an excavation pit in World of Warcraft, though, all gnomes with pick-axes and objects half-buried in the dirt and shining at me.
The partner I’m with, the man helping me search out the mystery of the one who disappeared, is strangely quiet. He doesn’t talk, focuses on the maps and charts I have, and on conferring with me in low tones. We work like this, going about here and there with our clues and serious ideas about being wealthy and famous after our capture. Then my partner tells me he is the man, the mysteriously missing man. He’s had surgery to disguise himself but he looks like Robert Downey Jr. to me. He is fascinated by my dedication to find him and over the time we've worked together on this project he's fallen in love with me.
I feel betrayed in the dream, displeased to have been so duped and not at all taken with this man. I abandon my project and move on. Next I know, I’m interviewing a suitor. Another man interested in dating me, and the interview is taking place in a hotel bathroom. He is in the bath, warm and bubbly and very fat, and I am judging his ability to take a proper bath before I’ll agree to date him. He plays WoW, and I’m interested in him until I find out that he also plays Final Fantasy 63 (or whatever they are up to now) and Zelda. I make him leave my bath.
I carry on like this, interviewing potential boyfriends, and then I meet Mr. J. I adore him right away (really, it's impossible not to). I decide to take him home, and my mom likes him too.
Some time later, what feels like years in the dream, I get a phone call. My parents have died at their home, and I must come right away. By the time I arrive, which doesn’t feel like terribly long, they have been removed and buried. I am told an improbable account of my father consuming some poisonous substance and dying, and my mom dying a few hours later from the same substance. I believed that my mom didn’t accidentally die from the poison, that she consumed it after my father died because she didn’t want to live without him. In the dream I remembered feeling that way after Colin died, remembered the nearly overwhelming urge to pick up his gun and shoot myself, and I became angry at her for doing this.
I am in the bathroom at my mom’s house; it has become important to me to change it, to make it stop looking so much like something she would have chosen. She painted it this awful green and I desperately want it to be a different colour. The bathroom reminds me of her, of her eclectic style and her sense of comfortable spaces. The room smells of her –of her clothing and her face cream and her shampoo. I want to cry, but I am bravely holding it in.
Mr. J comes in with a roll of some substance my mom had wanted him to put on the ceiling. It’s white texturing, a big roll of it. You roll it out onto the ceiling and it gives the appearance of pebbling (I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense). He looks at it in his hands, looks around at the green paint, looks at me, and says, “this is really awful, let’s not do this at all.”
We laugh, because we think my mom was so weird. We’re not going to change the house the way she wanted, and that feels sort of wrong. We want to honour what she wanted done, but we both think her plans were hideous, so we won’t.
The laughter turns to crying, and I am filled with every regret I’ve ever had. And then her voice is there, and an image of her in front of me, blurry and faded like every ghost I've ever imagined. She is speaking to me, telling me that she'll help me and that I'll have to be prepared for her friends to come over. She tells me that her friends will expect me to be like her, to be loving and sentimental, and that it's okay if I'm not. She knows I won't be like that, won't want a lot of sympathy and hand-holding and crying. Her voice echoes in the bathroom, and Mr. J can hear it too. It feels normal that my mother, in death, has visited me and is whispering instructions at me.
She fades slowly, until I can't see her anymore. I want her to stay, to keep her with me and I feel a desperate urge to fetch a jar from the kitchen and scoop her soul into it. I can feel her hovering in the air around me, her presence filling me up and I’m reminded of what people sometimes say when a person dies. “They’re always with you” and, “She’ll never be gone as long as you keep memories close”. And I think that must be true, because I can feel her good-natured indignation at my plans to paint over her green bathroom walls.