Visitations: Non-Christmas Carol Versions

I’m no Scrooge, but my subconscious is worried about me anyway.

My dreams are either weird, or so real they wake me up sweating, laughing or crying.

I recently had two dreams that stuck with me – the first, a weird, “what the hell was that?” –  the second, a visitation.

First: I was downtown, late, on a dark, deserted street under the el (elevated train tracks, for you non-Chicagoans.) This was not a place anyone should be, late at night. Angelic Daughter was with me. I have no idea why we were there. The Bulgarian came out of a red door in an old office building, onto the sidewalk, then into the street. He was talking to a woman while he helped her pack her car. I overheard him say he and his wife were expecting a baby.

In the dream, he looked at me, and recognized me, but didn’t acknowledge me. I smiled, because I knew he was afraid I’d butt into his conversation, and wanted me to leave him alone, which I thought was funny.  Angelic Daughter was standing closer to him, and said hello, calling him by name, and he responded to her kindly before disappearing back into the building.

I have no idea if the Bulgarian is married, or if he is, or is to be, a father. He was very private around me (can you blame him?) But I had thought occasionally how great it would be if he had kids. He was kind and patient. I thought he’d make a great Dad; and if he had sons, they’d be adorable, burly little black-haired mini-Bulgarians, running around the unnecessarily childproofed basement the Bulgarian finished for Mike and me.

Damn, he looked good in that dream. Like the picture above.  But except for the black hair, he doesn’t look anything like that diver. No beard. He said he had tattoos, but I never saw them.  He was not as lean.

After he disappeared, I was suddenly in some dark, scary, back alley parking lot.  Leaves smouldered near a wood fence. I tried to pat them out with my hands, but couldn’t, so I tried to call the fire department, but didn’t have an address.  I panicked because I left Angelic Daughter alone while I went to look for the building number.

Freudian, much? Lost? Terrified, leaving Angelic Daughter (for a new job?) Parking lot – Stuck?

I have shaken off my ridiculous crush on the Bulgarian, but it made me feel less alone. Without it, my subconscious thinks I’m down a dark alley, in a dangerous parking lot, putting Angelic Daughter at risk. And something’s burning. Yikes.

Second dream: a visitation and a smackdown. I deserved it.

When I started my wonderful new job, the company introduced new hires in a weekly meeting, asking us where we were from, what our role was, and for a “fun fact.” My “fun fact” was that I attended the same high school and had the same English teacher as Dave Eggers. You know, Dave Eggers? McSweeney’s? A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? The Circle?

Crickets.

I’m several years older than Dave Eggers. But apparently he’s old enough for my young coworkers not to be familiar with him.

So, I did a bad thing.  I pulled out my Chris Farley connection. My young colleagues lit up when I said I had performed with Farley. Which is true. I was on an improv team with him, nearly thirty years ago. When he showed up.

I don’t like name dropping.

Neither does Farls, it seems.

I dreamt Farley was helicoptered in to perform in some black-box theater as a ringer for the next show.  He walked through the space toward me and spoke to a woman standing next to me. Then he looked straight at me, as if he didn’t recognize me. Or as if he did, and wasn’t pleased.

I got the message. Stop dropping my name. You didn’t really know me.

Which is true. He lit the sky I happened to be under for a few months, and then was off, to light up other skies over other people. Then he was gone. A meteor, a bright flame. Flamed out.

Sorry, Farls. This is the last time I’ll drop your name. But the dream was so real, and so funny.  You looked sculpted and fit (real Chippendale’s dancer!)

I’m sure that’s what Farley looks like in eternity, if he wants to.

May your dreams be filled with loving visitations, or little smackdowns, if you need them. Or a handsome Bulgarian who has found his own love and happiness, I hope.

Still hoping for some love and happiness to return again in my life, I remain,

Your stressed out, grateful for the new job but worried about Angelic Daughter, gaining weight and not worrying about it enough,

Ridiculouswoman

Diver Image by rodolfo_waterloo from Pixabay

I Wanna Dance with Somebody: or, No Crying at the Company Party, Please

I’ll sit this one out. Somebody who loves me isn’t here.

“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody…” Right, Whitney, wail on!

“I wanna feel the HEAT with somebo-day-ay-ay…” You go!

“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody…” Yes, I think we’ve established that.

“with somebody who LOVES me….”

Oh shit.

Suddenly on the brink of tears in the middle of the company holiday party, because of an old Whitney Houston song?

The company, my new employer, has shown astonishing generosity and kindness to me in my scant one month’s time there. The very minute I learned of the company holiday party, I made a  reservation and arranged for care for Angelic Daughter. Couldn’t decide on a dress to wear, so I brought two: a beaded, flapper-style sequined cocktail dress, that cost a month’s rent thirty years ago, and a tasteful black and white ball gown with three-quarter sleeves, a collar and pockets(!) The kind lady at the dry cleaner’s got it hemmed in just four days, but I didn’t have time to alter the bodice, which was made for someone at least four inches taller than I. So to keep it from gaping in the front, I held the dress down with one hand behind my back when I approached the dance floor to bob and swish around a little.

There was an inordinate amount of rap shuffled with a few oldies, including the inevitable, the unavoidable, the ubiquitous, the eternal “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Much of the dancing from the young people was, I suspect, done “ironically.” But everyone was beautifully dressed, and truly seemed to be having a great time.

I was happily sitting alone, watching the merriment. I must have gotten up to head to the bar for a refill when, on the return trip to the table, that Whitney Houston song came on. I joined in the dancing…right up until that problematic lyric.

“….with sombody who LUUUUUVS me-eeee-eee-eee..”

The somebody who loved me has been dead for over 3 years.

I didn’t expect to dance with anyone at this party, and wasn’t upset about that. So it was a shock how instantly tears formed when that lyric hit me – exposing the stark loneliness of not having someone who loved me there with me.

Not that he would have danced. Mike was the embodiment of the stereotypical “white man dancing:”  stiff, awkward, no fluidity in the hips.

I sat down as soon as I realized what was happening – I was in danger of lapsing into tears in the middle of a festive, happy occasion. I got control of myself and held it together. No smeared mascara (and I was wearing mascara, and a thin streak of eyeliner, for the first time in something like twenty -five years. Astonishingly, I didn’t make a smudgy mess of it when I put it on.)

I talked to Mike as I assessed myself in the mirror before leaving the hotel room to go down to the ballroom.

“Not bad, huh, loves?”

I imagined him smiling approval.

I’m learning to live with loneliness, and to accept that it isn’t really ever going to go away. I have many wonderful new things in my life – the rooms I worked so hard to redecorate, the new job, Angelic Daughter’s amazing ability to adapt and gain independence and maintain a positive attitude in the midst of these changes. But Mike’s absence walks with me every step of the way. I think of it as a wise companion. I don’t get overexcited about much of anything, anymore, because that calm shadow reminds me how silly it is to dwell on fleeting nonsense in the presence of eternity.

Alone, again, here at my laptop, my wonderful old Vaio that Mike requisitioned from me almost as soon as I brought it home, I allow the tears to come. I thought this fourth Christmas without him would be easier.  The tree is set up in a different room, the new pattern of outside lights extends the classic swag I always hang across the front porch.

But it’s not easier. Mike is still every bit as gone, and we’re still every bit as alone.

I’m planning a very quiet holiday,  just the two of us at home, indulging in two quiet days of togetherness and rest, sitting with Mike’s absence.  Tears that may come are part of the deal. Happiness, when it emerges, will wrap itself around the tears, and around the absence and the sorrow. It may muffle them,  but I know now it can never make them disappear.

Blowing my nose, wiping my eyes and seeing Mike clearly, “regarding the tree,” as we used to do together, I remain,

Your quieter, older, slower, calmer, sadder but more grateful for each moment of smiles and tears,

Ridiculouswoman