Honey’s Dreamland

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June 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

After exposure to sunlight, Kodachromes taken with home cameras in the 1940s and 1950s lost color, becoming fainter. Memory may also turn colors fainter after a time. The colors in the first dream are paler than colors are in real life.

The place was near a lake or marsh. Tall reeds grew at the water’s edge, and the boy hid in them. Women were on an elevation behind above him, and the slope of land and brush concealed them from him. The women sang as they worked. They gathered seeds. They were all safe.

Partly concealed by the brush stood a rabbit that watched the boy without moving. The rabbit had long upright ears that were thin so that the light made them translucent. One of the women called the boy by his other name, not his real name. The boy’s other name was rabbit.

A smooth stone lay in the shallows. The child put his hand in the water and removed the stone.  His hand was brown not white. I knew I was dreaming and woke.

The second dream was about a road that climbed a hill.  I walked with tall people, so tall their heads seemed small. They spoke to me in a foreign language, as if they believed I would understand. The road approached another hill. We walked past trees. The leaves of the trees had a strong scent, which I later learned was California bay laurel. There was a canyon below us. One of the tall people descended to my height. He exclaimed in his language and pointed with his arm towards a brilliant platinum plane of light. The colors were strong in the second dream: brown dirt, deep dark green pine needles, juniper green bay laurel leaves, and blue sky.

I found the road in 1980. It is in the Berkeley hills. The platinum plane is the San Francisco Bay. My grandparents had lived near it before they moved to Los Angeles.

A canopied swing stood on the eastern side of the house in Los Angeles. My grandmother sat on the swing and held up a dress she had sewn for me, a turquoise dress with pink stitching in the bodice. She wore citrus cologne. “The stitching,” she said, “is called French Knot.”

My grandfather came out of a room under the house. He had made wooden blocks as a present for me: a square, a rectangle, a pyramid and a sphere. He hadn’t painted the blocks although he must have painted something because paint speckled his eyeglasses.

My grandmother’s fingers were crooked from arthritis and blue veins coursed beneath the skin on the backs of her hands. She blew on the grass until it whistled.

When I was two, I lived in another house with my mother and stepfather. There was an earthquake. My stepfather ran to me and picked me up and stood with me in a doorway.

That was the year a car hit my grandparents when they crossed Riverside Drive. My stepfather answered the phone after the accident. He said, “I’ll come.” He put a bathrobe on over his striped pajamas and left the house. My grandfather died.

I was allowed to visit my grandmother in the hospital. She was on a narrow bed and a metal tube was next to her. She smiled and said, “That’s called an oxygen tank.” The window was higher than me.

 

Scientology_building

 

The hospital was in the old Cedars of Lebanon, the hospital in the building that is now the Scientology Center.

I left the hospital with my mother, and we stood waiting for the semaphore traffic signal. The device echoed BONG and an arm of it swung up that was painted with the word GO and there was a red sign that said STOP. “S-t-o-p,” I said and that was the beginning of reading. The snake letter meant S. The Jesus cross that came next meant the sound T. Guessing O and P was easy.

On my third birthday, I received a tricycle, which was old but newly painted red, and my aunt gave me a stereopticon. My aunt wore eyeglasses and had puffy black hair. She told me, “This is a stereopticon.” I looked through the lenses and saw two sepia photographs of wheat fields and a threshing machine drawn by four horses. “The two images combine in the eye,” my aunt said. “That makes the photograph look three dimensional.” The two images did not combine for me.

Two months later, snow fell on Los Angeles. My mother put mittens on my hands and I dug in the snow until she called me in.

A picture in a frame hung over my bed. In the picture, a little boy kneeled by his bed praying. Below the little boy were the words, “Now I lay me down to sleep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Across the street behind the Forest Lawn wall, soldiers shot other soldiers in order to bury them in a military ceremony like the cowboys shot at each other from horses on the television screens in the appliance store on Fletcher Drive.

When I was seven, my mother and I had the same dream: a man wearing a uniform with the word HAL on its pocket came up the stairs to the house where we had not yet moved – a house my mother had visited but I had not.

He carried a cardboard box. The box was a size that would accommodate the computer screen I use now as I write.

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, whose main protagonist is a sentient computer named HAL, was not to be filmed until 1968.  The film was to deal with themes of human evolution, the rise of technology and artificial intelligence. Kubrick based the film on Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, “The Sentinel of Eternity,” first published in 1953. I was seven in 1953. That’s when my mother and I had the same dream about HAL.

The downtown-to-the San Gabriel Valley segment of the I-10 was completed in 1956. My mother learned to drive a few years earlier, at least, she got her license from the DMV a few years earlier, but she had never driven on a freeway. She was never to drive on a freeway after that day, the day we went to get my grandmother from my aunt’s house.

My mother had not learned how to use the rear-view mirror. She had me stick my head out the window and yell if another car approached. My brother was in the backseat, with his head out that window. No other car was near us. The freeway was still empty, brand new.

The City of Alhambra had not yet installed sidewalks or curbs. My mother parked alongside the grass of the house-in-front. Two elderly ladies that made porcelain lamp bases with sculpted roses lived in the-house-in-front. Their front window was full of pastel lamps with shades like little flouncy skirts. My aunt lived in the house-in-the-back with her dogs, all named Lobo, and my uncle. Most people either forgot my uncle existed or hoped he was out at the place he called The Den of Iniquity but he was there, the Superior Being, the man that knew every definition on the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary.

My aunt helped my grandmother into the Pontiac. My grandmother was dressed but covered with bed sheets. My aunt got in the car and took over the driving. Blood began to leak on the sheets.  I don’t remember who took her to the hospital after that, maybe my uncles.

 

Dream Center, Echo Park

Dream Center, Echo Park

 

I was again allowed to visit in my grandmother’s room, this time in Queen of Angels at 2301 Bellevue Avenue in Echo Park when I was eleven. That building is now the Dream Center, a Pentecostal Christian Church mission.

From the window in her room, I saw the small old houses around West Temple and Alvarado and a line of tall palm trees. The Hollywood Freeway had opened a year earlier but I didn’t see it. The building was too close to the freeway, and the room was too high up. The ocean was a little spark on the horizon. Sickly chrome light shone around my grandmother.  She died.

When my younger daughter was eleven years old, we shared a room and had the same dreams.  There was a dream about a bicycle going away all night, a dream about counting on the fingers of two hands, and another about a tortoise so large a child rode on its back. The old man brown eyes in the wrinkled tortoise face showed a depth of knowledge that would break your heart but the child beat his legs happily against the carapace and the tortoise did not mind.

Twenty years later, the place in my dream was a public square in a city in central or east Europe.  Rather tall buildings yellowed by time surrounded the square. The sky was cloudless, a bright fall sky in a country with cold winters. I was one of the people sitting at one of the tables set up in the square. White linen tablecloths covered the tables. Pigeons walked on their skinny legs between the tables picking up crumbs in their beaks. The feathers around their necks were iridescent mostly violet.  A woman wearing a scarf tied around her hair sold red flowers from the doorway of a tiny store, or perhaps her apartment was behind the door. A silver samovar and little glasses rested on my table.

My parents appeared in the chairs next to mine. They were young. A waiter stopped, and I ordered pastries and poured out glasses of tea, which had bits of tea leaves suspended in dark amber liquid.  Wind blew through the square scattering dry leaves.

There is never difference in temperature in dreamland. It is neither hot nor cold.  I have never dreamed of China or Africa or Antarctica.

For a time, the dreams took place in a foreign city at night. Stars trembled in a black sky and shone again in a dark river that flowed through the middle of the city, dividing it.  A thin man walked ahead of me reciting poetry, which was bad poetry he had written.  The man and I had gone together to a poetry reading in a place somewhere behind us in the city center.

On the other side of the river across a bridge stood an Art Deco building. The building was a creamy light green in the moonlight.

The Dnieper River flows through Kiev on its way south to the Black Sea. The Vistula flows through both Warsaw and Krakow. The Danube divides Buda and Pest and it also flows through Romania. I have never been in any of these places but found photographs on Internet with beautiful Art Deco buildings in Budapest.

 

Bedo House, Budapest, Emil Vidor, 1903

Bedo House, Budapest, Emil Vidor, 1903

 

One night was not at all ordinary and blended into dream.

I came out on the porch of my house in Madera because I had heard a church bell toll but there was no church near my house.  Moths singed their paper wings on the light bulb that lit the front door.  No bell tolled outside of my house.

I went back inside and began to read and endured the bell, a heavy bell, as sonorous as a Buddhist gong, tolling all night long, keeping me awake until dawn, when my brother phoned to tell me our mother died.

The ocean sounding against rocks like the primal voice with its profound articulation of the weariness of suffering; the white house with windows that opened to a garden and the little witty animal like a fox that drew me there.

A narrow valley runs through two hills. Big houses stand on those hills. The windows on one hill are gold when the sun rises as if there is a fire inside of them. The windows of the houses on the other hill are gold at sunset.

In this last dream, I walk towards home over the hills and then I walk along the edge of a lake or marsh. The water in the lake overflows its banks and covers smooth stones and the road. This may be a dream of the future.  The ocean is coming closer. The sea level is rising.

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