Tuesday, April 12, 2016

when suddenly before me:

The sky was that grey-green color, the kind that happens right before the world splits open, and it feels like everything beneath us, all of the tumbling sea, slick-backed fish and baleen whales, the nets of their mouths, are moments from capsizing beneath the burden of gravity. All that Midwest sadness around me, red lips, blonde hair curled in a 50s style, my dress suit the same color grey as the Chrysler I was driving, a cream bow crisp at my neck. Traveling the noose of the interstate system, spoked wheels lonely on the asphalt, the world wide open nothing, when suddenly before me, a gigantic building— I want to say Susie Mays, or Carol Sues, but that's not it (no one can remember the names of dreams as much as the names of memory). Still more grey but large windows everywhere, pulling the building from the tumbling world, shutters open, a glass hand greatly hung, reaching upward, and framed in a bow of teal and orange. The name Susie May or Carol Sue in that same script that every Village Inn or Huddle House used to use, the same script on those A-frame breakfast nooks in Mad Men, where every buttery beautiful thing on the menu is followed by a cent sign.

I thought I'd dreamed it; even in my dream, I couldn't believe it was true, this heavy-handed make believe, the towers of hotel rooms, the cavernous restaurant hall that looks like the church I attend, but smelled better, like pancakes and honey, the best brightness in technicolor.

So I made myself useful— the dream of my dreams being finding my use— and I collected all the mohair coats of all the beautiful brown-haired, pink-lipped women. I tottered a little on my alligator heels, but a man in long tailcoats put his hand on my shoulder, like a kickstand. He held me steady as more and more animal coats were piled, and I (giddily) watched the women drink champagne from long-neck crystal and laugh with the full force of their hearts at jokes I didn’t know.

And at the end— because I woke at 4a, which was close to then— a woman gave me a book of images, all Richard Avedon (I think, but again, these are names of dreams and memories), and the full title page was stuffed with beautiful letters of love and memories that Avedon had written just for the woman, and the woman was so happy with everything, every part of life she was experiencing, she gave the book to me.

But the man in the long-tail suit said I could not accept gifts, and threw it away in the metal can behind me. But later, after my hands were empty, I searched for the book, finding it better than before: happy and warmed by all that butter and honey.

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