Haunted Houses and Dream Country Lost

A tempest tossed through the trees that morning. The light cast had a preternatural tint that occurs evanescent before storms. Evocative of something that can’t get a finger put upon. I never sit out front of the trailer, but on this morning I sat out on the step with a Yerba Mate. There is no companion like the comforting cup of earthy tea on a windswept morning where something breathes in the hair of the trees. It is fuel to my soul and it is these brief moments that I must feast upon with every sense.

Zombie attacks! I understood I was not myself. I was a man and I was seeing through his eyes. It lacked the terror, as if I understood this graphic grit to be the stuff of gleeful overdramatics. I feel I’m becoming lucid during the zombie dreams more and more. Zombies are far-fetched so I realize that it’s not real. These zombies were unquestionably powerful and a bit quicker and nothing occupied them but their typical bloodlust for brains. I enjoy the gratuitous violence of a zombie dream and the colors hold their own. Darker shades… browns, maroons, denims with slashes of dirty gold. Think of dried blood. Think of a film shot in a rich grained, high quality. You can see subtle points of light and shade in an interwoven texture. (Like when I see the twinkles and sparks in intricate pattern, reacting with my interface to reality.) No longer sure where the fight lies, who has “turned” – it’s all bad. Comic book ice cream.

I become heavy-hearted. The bombast of daydreams piling atop one another, left in a heap to shrivel under a cold diffuse light, left to shrivel to the dwindled time of the ticking clock. Oh, to attempt such feats in the waking day? To translate my dream world through graphic illustrations – my magic concealed in the closed covers of a comic book. These antiquated maps must be studied. A cartographer with pencil behind ear, scrolling, unrolling, drafting – drawing up the lay of the land in a world neither past, present or future. I never noticed a trapdoor there before! To start an unrehearsed passion with wood, with texture, with material. There must be time to rip out these eyeballs and sew in something new? Become lost in the design of a genius or a madman – a madwoman?

There is a college town I live near. It changes it’s hue when I travel dream country. The river bends differently from plain day and the sky is never light blue. Walk through the elongated frozen yogurt store punched with yellow walls and a gorgeous syrup lacquer over a cherry and blond floor, gloriously void of blinding letters and viperous words, out the back door to peruse down a boardwalk. Nothing is washed out here. (Though to make a comment so perpetual is a death sentence in dream country.) The storefronts are built over this twisting wooden promenade with the roaring black water not far below. No Coney Island. No Jersey shore. A boardwalk on a river – even better than the real thing. Only a mighty construct could stand immobile against these hydraulic forces. Underneath, with tunes of black and chords of gray the swift river stampedes with the power of riotous horses.

In dream country, there is a light that is always burning in the dead of night. In this place people seem to move with intention but not with the intention to survive. The numbered buildings qualify it as a city. The inhabitants, though far between, at once hold no significance and hint of a possible future encounter. That a future of possible consequence is left unaddressed and unimportant suits me to a tee. Where I live always under a forgiving night sky, I am concerned with discovering and always discovering. The quest is to find the hidden light.

Tonight, I hike upward toward the campus with my mother. In the harsh light of reality, we would be walking a concrete sidewalk lined with utility buildings and townhouses in various arrays of upkeep to the singular sprawling dormitory of brick at the state university I used to attend. The clock tower is meant to be stately but the buildings are multiplied brick boxes. In dream country, the uninspired dimensions are left behind. If houses exist to our left they are intrusive in no way. What does impress is hiking upward toward a remote campus with several uniform smaller, multi-storied buildings of grey weather-beaten wood. This is a destination and here no road moves through. Yes, a remote, dark and weathered campus is something to aspire to. This soul has evolved past Earthen collegiate pride. (I never had much to begin with.) I feel my attention pulled back toward a massive grid of old streets and houses, a grid to be lost in for days, to keep a heart alight for nights and nights and nights. There is a small glowing orb adrift in a sea of houses. I know I can find it if I begin to look. I start to explain to my mother, “But we won’t get back over that way to check that out.” Somehow I know, as an older soul knows, that our time is limited. My mother is set upon our mountain destination and in a good natured appeasement I pacify myself with the thought that we can very neatly loop back through that neighborhood after we visit the campus. It makes sense in the logical mind of a voyager. And immediately I wake up. The dream had come to an end even more swiftly than I somehow knew it would.

I can map it out. I should map it out. I will map it out. I will make a map of Dream Country. The alterations are inexhaustible, but fascinating. I somehow understand the orientations of Dream Country. I understand how their overlays position on the map of reality. Now, I must connect these twisting winding roads. I must seek a connection between these destinations. They must be documented. They must be of significance.

I will be painting Potsdam this coming weekend at a Plein Air Festival. Instead of painting the local landmarks and the typical atrocities of nature, maybe I will paint things that are not there. Maybe I will scout and trek through these inconsistencies until I am confounded by realization and attacked by inspiration or perhaps a slow dawning, a creeping feeling rises over the horizon. The sun has been replaced and my muses seek vandalize.

My brother and I had a babysitter named Joanne Deno. He was slightly luckier. He only stayed after school whereas I had to stay all day. I was contained in a small area off the kitchen. My only stimuli consisted of a milk crate of blocks, cars, a rubberized Pillsberry doughboy and a pretend telephone. I would observe the mundane coffee conversation she carried with her elderly mother every morning. Her mother was called Bert and she was pretty cool. She quietly regarded me with interest, and was never snide. Joanne on the other hand… Joanne used to call me “Carrot Top,” which I hated. Not only did it intend to tease of a bastardized anomaly, the top of a carrot is green. If only I had voiced this truth in my innocence to this redneck. She herself had a Ziggy Stardust screwed-down hairdo. It did not look fabulous on her and whether she even knew who David Bowie was is debatable. She used to exile my brother and I to her son’s room to take naps so she could watch her “stories” uninterrupted. We were forbidden to touch anything in Kyle’s room. We were forbidden to sleep on Kyle’s bed. Kyle was an overgrown candy-assed mama’s boy who was off elsewhere. In silence we laid on the floor, maybe whispering how bad it sucked. We weren’t tired. My brother and I weren’t the napping types. Unfortunately, oftentimes, this is the lot of those raised on babysitters – being someone’s nuisance, being someone’s inconvenience.

It’s the second of the night in a series of dreams and I am gaining lucidity. I am back in Joanne Deno’s house. The house is mostly emptied but the refrigerator stands. I open the door to empty ice trays and containers all over the floor. I am having a glorious rampage of it but this ransack is playful and mischievous. No real harm is done. No real hate or malice is exorcised. However, in waking day I can’t help but wonder if she is experiencing problems with her refrigerator the morning after..

My brother stole Kyle’s Starwars figurine which resulted in accusations. My brother vehemently denied it and a fallout ensued. I look back realizing just how clever my brother was at getting us out of the wrong caretaker situations. We bounced from babysitter to babysitter until he found us an ideal second-home with his buddy’s family. I felt like I grew up in other people’s houses. Maybe that is why I feel an affinity for this house I will revisit in dream now – our former formal residence. The crash pad for the three fancy-free Sagittarians.

My formative years were spent in the age of eighties excess – an age of pop icons and shiny happy capitalism. The effects of George Michael and Madonna impressed upon the subconscious. (Maybe the reason my libido metastasized into a seven-headed-monster.) My mother owned over one hundred pairs of shoes, most of them pumps. Her wardrobe was all streamlined designer skirt suits with shoulder pads. In her hay day she could literally stop traffic. The American Dream was a statuesque two-level in the suburbs with the white picket fence. That is what I bought into anyhow. I would have three children, two girls and a boy. Danielle would have dark hair. Ashley and Evan would have blond hair. My husband would be a delicious Ken doll in a tuxedo with a dashing smile. And don’t forget that stately two-story in the suburbs with the white picket fence. (And what a gloriously framed shit stain that image turned to be.)

This is where I go. Back to the old house, as Morrissey would muse. Once more it stands intact and not burnt. To wander it, empty under the cover of night. I feel joy that I have come back to to this place in a non-convoluted or cluttered way. There is no furniture. I jumped down the landing over the board floors where the upright black piano used to live. I go to the kitchen and look out the bay window onto the front yard. I turn to look at the space over where the kitchen table used to be. There is a huge painting on the wall here. Water, a massive, hidden lagoon with jungle foliage bending over it’s beaches and a sun in a midnight blue sky. The whole painting is brilliant in inspiration though it looks as if it has been done by a child. The sun is paramount, a pinnacle centered with a smiling face in oranges and yellows. The perceptible lines radiate obvious intensities of light. The tangles of greens overlapping were executed in such a slap-dash manner. Some of the foreground groups of bushes haven’t even been filled with color yet. They are only black and white sketches. The masterpiece has not been finished. To say the painting evoked an extreme sense of tranquility, to say the painting evoked a mystical forbidden sacred sanctuary – well, all of those words begin to sound overused, trite, and insignificant. What else can I call it? It is not of this world. I kept running toward the painting and I would jump upright with glee just when I was before it, as if I could express my joy at it’s existence. My feet would shuffle in a sort of awkward ballet step as I reared to rush the painting once more. At first my leaps were met with limitation. I was not rising high and would descend quickly. On the fifth or sixth leap, I realized I had achieved hang-time. I was beginning to levitate. Then, I woke up.

Dreams of levitation are the best dreams.

I walk the night highway. A skeleton pulls to the side of the road. He rolls his window down to tell me I am lost in dream country.

A phantom, a ghost, an idea, an essence. It might as well be called Love or Understanding. When I personify it, she is a woman that burns me with longing. She taunts me with full existence and no existence at all in the recesses of my mind and the hollow corridors of my dreams. She will know my haunted houses. She will catch them fresh from my lips as I regrettably awake.

No, she too I left back on the other side of consciousness. Ever present and always slipping away.

We could play psychologist and I could speculate how these relationships from my childhood have muted the colors of my present. Daddy didn’t love me. He made me to wander the earth and find love elsewhere. Perhaps, the reason why I never expect anything from men and I feel uncomfortable if they offer. Though I am not interested in the present. I am interested in traveling so far back where only my dreams can take me. And ever move backward. And ever move backward.

Such a romantic death. To submerge ever deeper weighted by a large stone in the pocket. And did she wear a billowing white blouse as she strode into the river entranced? She had always been drowning in the element of water. Did the goldenrod sun stream through the leaves leaving this blouse speckled in pattern? Willowy in stature and frail with the onset of age did she wrestle with the current that tried to circumvent her destiny? Did she look as an apparition even before her departure? Virginia Woolf staged her death and offered it up as art.

Exhausting to burrow ever deeper into the past. Yet, it is by going backward that I find the door, not forward. If I can stay in this nighttime for long enough, days on end in dreamland, maybe I can pinpoint that elusive “it”. I can slough the trivialities that bombard upon waking. Let me stay! Let me stay!

I awake to the unique terror that only exists in the black of night. This is where Lovecraft spent so much time under malevolent skies. This is the place he developed into worlds. I’m thinking about how strange it is to be lying in a bed, lifted off the floor. As if I am being offered up in complete susceptibility to all inhabitants of the sky. Why are we offered on a funeral pyre as we sleep? What is this strange ritual of subjection we all undergo each night? And what are the alternatives? I can imagine a low rising sleeping cupboard built on the floor – a shelter one would crawl into for slumber. Yet, it would be more difficult to design a mattress that is built into this cupboard… And if those above can see through one ceiling, they can see through a second.

It is only the strange horrors of night. The fact that I love the restorative properties and escape designs offered by sleep are of importance. The fact that I revel over Lovecraft’s grotesque vocabulary set in a crunchy hard-edged cubism is of more importance.

Another dream in the hours of early light. The dream causes me to commit to immersing myself in only classical music this week. Tchikovsky and Handel are the two that come to mind. Their names enter my dreams in the format of words. Early in the week I attempt the commitment, but I end up listening to everything from The Police to Moon Hooch. Classical reminds me of skirting the edge of Lake Regatta in my car that summer. With the light shining on the lake and the nice residences, I thought I could transform. I could transcend if I listened to nothing but classical music. I could lift myself and become whomever I wanted.

Sitting by this river letting it’s black rush shatter then sooth my thoughts. It has mystique and barrages forth with an unbridled abandon. It is off to dream country. Only those off to dream country move so boldly. I sit on the bank and watch it go. I know my peace is fleeting. I will be driven out. Then, I will be driven back.

I love being haunted and lost.

Lest we take ourselves too seriously. Lest we forget from where we come.

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