March 1, 2012
"I dreamed I was trying to convince the owner of an old hotel to let me run the restaurant. The environment was mysterious, the building like the set of a movie, Victorian Gothic, if there is such a thing. Weird things happened in there. Like the elevator was a Victorian sofa that levitated you to the balcony. It was very important that I convince the owner and his young wife (daughter?) to allow me to run the kitchen. I had to prove that I knew everything the best chef in the world would know--everything about food and local ingredients. I had to know how to decant a very peculiar wine from a bulbous vessel with a straight, narrow neck into a wine glass. You had to pour the wine just so, or its discrete elements wouldn't bind into drinkable wine.
You could have cut the tension with a Baroque fish knife.
I went into the countryside to forage for food, to show the owner of the hotel that I knew my business. Maybe I had a family along with me, but I'm not sure. There was a family presence, but it was hazy, and definitely not the focus of the journey. I waded through estuaries and plucked crabs and lobsters from nooks and crannies with a long pair of chef's tongs. I had to show the hotel owner that I knew the magic, that he could trust me with the great gift of running the kitchen. The wife (daughter?) was on my side, maybe; she whispered in his ear a lot and smiled at me. There was a carnival outside the hotel.
But as I was strolling hip deep in the water, plucking crabs and lobsters, I was also thinking about this other opportunity, to work on a farm in France. I wanted with all my heart to prove to the hotel owner that I could run that restaurant, but the whole time I was also thinking about working on this farm in the south of France, and I actually showed the farm to the wife (daughter?) by projecting the beautiful and glowy pastoral landcape on a cloud of pale smoke I could produce with my mind. I wanted them to to recognize that I could do the food magic they wanted me to do, but I also had this other thing to choose from. This completely other thing that wasn't about running a kitchen. It didn't matter, in the end, what I did for a living; it mattered that whatever I did used the magic inside me."
I'm probably forgetting something. I have a particularly annoying habit of forgetting a dream once I've told it, but I forget even more if I don't tell it, so I'm glad I did. It sounds like a great dream, everything all hazy and magical and mysterious and passionate, my hunger for the options before me so real, and the inside of the hotel like a movie set: David Lynch, Peter Greenaway, Guillermo del Toro, but also architectural and Victorian, dust, wood, lace, velvet brocade, butter, wine, glass and mirrors. I woke filled with yearning, to be able to describe each image and each emotional in fine detail, but the dream like smoke on my lips, already vanishing with each word spoken. I have a recorder on my phone; perhaps next time I'll have the app ready to record and I'll play it back later, so as not to lose any of it.
And yet. And yet, somehow I feel that if I heard the actual words I had spoken, it would kill whatever lingers in my imagination. It would clear out those maddeningly beautiful cobwebs that insist there is more back there in the recesses of my mind. There's more to this dream than just the words I was able to spit out in my hazy morning confusion. There's the agony of longing, the dust motes in the peculiar light of the hotel lobby, the wheels of the hotel owner's chair (yes, an invalid, what does that mean?), a certain spice on the tongue, myself in a man's body, that shadow family hovering around my senses like cigar smoke, but invisible, only a savory, woody tang in the air.
I woke without knowing if I'd gotten the job. I remember being relieved that it wasn't real, and yet also pining for the replete feeling of having gorged on my own imagination. There's something knocking in my subconscious, tapping tables and channeling the spirits. That elusive carnival atmosphere outside in the street beyond the hotel, unseen or perhaps fully experienced in dream, but vanished at the moment of waking.
I'm constitutionally unable to have a dream without trying to figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me. It's possible, I'm pondering running away to join the circus. Or perhaps this is about finding and realizing my dreams, or about self-actualization. As a blueprint for reality, it's extremely unhelpful, unless there's a school for wizard-chef-farmers out there that you know about and I dont, and you can send me a link to the online application. I don't know who the man in the wheelchair could be, or the woman (wife? daughter?) or why I was a man, or why my family was merely a vague, ghostly thing in my left ear, or if the carnival was part of another dream, or if I've just eaten way too much seafood in the last week, and like Scrooge's bit of mustard, it's giving me weird dreams.
I can usually figure these things out. I can usually read my dreams very well. "I was on a frightening journey, and I couldn't find my way home." Rarely do I wake up so flummoxed with detail, and so sure that I'm missing more than half the dream. Rarely do I have such a sensory supertaster's dream.
I had to prove I knew the magic. That I was worthy, and wise.
It seemed so, so important, half asleep, half awake.