If there is an upside to insomnia it’s the idea that at four in the morning there is damn little else to do but write. Of course, I could watch a movie, read a book, pet the dogs, or even do housework, but it’s four in the morning and what else is there to do but write? I could walk in the woods, but it’s cloudy again and since we’ve had 30 centimeters of rain in June there are more mosquitoes outside than there are tweets coming from the president when he’s had a bad day. Last night when I did sleep I had dreams that blended together, separated, dissipated, and finally ended with me sitting up in bed wondering if there are other people who have this problem.
Oddly, there are dreamscapes, places in dreams where the dreams are taking place, geographic locations as it were, that do not exist in reality, or are modified to fit the dreams, and these places reoccur on occasion. There are some my mind returns to again and again and I have no idea what they all have in common except they don’t exist anywhere else.
There is an old wood frame farmhouse that exists in the dreamworld. From where I am sitting right now who ever built it, if they still lived there, would be my neighbors. The screens in the windows are long gone, and so is everything else inside of the house but the windows still let the light in and whoever painted the inside of the house liked blue. New and cleaned up a bit, it would be the place a family could get started. I could see a man and his wife, three months showing, moving in and setting up here. A cat would walk the counters and sit in the windows, and a dog would hunt in the yard. There isn’t a porch but the steps going into the house would be wide enough for a couple to sit close and have the dog beside them as they drank coffee and watched the sun go down.
Maybe they were here, in reality, back fifty years ago, or maybe not at all. It would be odd to meet someone who was born fifty years ago who once lived out here. They would tell me about the house they grew up in and I would nod, knowing the house as well as they did. They would tell me about the steps in front and I would already know they remembered watching the sun go down with the dog plopped down under their feet. I remember your house. I’ve been inside of the kitchen and looked out of the window that was too high for you to see out of until you turned eight.
In this reality, which I sometimes wonder if it’s not some odd form of dream that comes and goes, the house is totally gone. No one I have ever spoke to remembers it being there but then again, they live in a very solid universe where dreams are forgotten as soon as the eyes open or the remnants are ignored unless someone was eaten by a bear. This is the only world and the only world in which to put concern or consideration. There is nothing out there but the past and it is gone and there is nothing inside but the ability to figure out how to live while awake. What on earth are you talking about?
But there have been, very likely, many homes in this area. I drive by abandoned houses and wonder what they looked like new. A man burning off his yard this spring went inside to watch television and the fire devoured an old trailer in the woods. I’ve seen in a thousand times, likely many thousands of times, going to work, coming home, driving into town, and finally I drove by the smoking ruins. The Sherriff was there and there was a man in handcuffs. There was nothing left of the trailer but smoke and ruin and melted metal. I have often wondered who put the trailer there and why they let to go into disrepair, but it has never shown up in a dream.
Many years ago I helped a man take the wreckage of an old trailer to the landfill. A huge pine limb had shattered it and there was no method to repair it, except at great cost. His wife still loved the place; both of their children had been conceived there. But a half dozen trips to the landfill and there was nothing left but the place under the trailer where the grass has long since died. The grass would return and the woman would haunt the new grass, pouring her memories out and watering the grass with them. Perhaps the trees remember the people who once lived here and they pass the memories onto me, for reasons I cannot explain to you now. Or ever, perhaps.
The sky is growing light now and soon I will drive by where there was once a trailer and I’ll drive by graveyards were there were once people with memories. Maybe somewhere in the ground not far from where I’ll drive is the person conceived in the house that only the trees, and I, remember. Maybe the person never existed at all and it is I who am shifting dreams into the trees. Perhaps, in some way, there is a medium in which we live we cannot see when we are awake and are only vaguely aware of it when we sleep, and dream. Nevertheless, I swim in this pool at night, betimes, and when I awake I can see the homes of the long dead, or never existed, as if they were still here, or if they were once here, it is not clear to me which way the truth lies now.
The day begins, the night ends, and I walk among those who sleep at night, in the small hours where a gulf opens up between those people and myself, and another closes where the places I dream about are as real as where you are right now.