I woke up – wide awake – early this morning. Finally got out of bed a little after four and came downstairs to poke around online and watch something soothing on tv so I could go back to bed, or something inspiring so I could be productive. Actually, the original plan was to come down here and write that bacon and scallion pancake post, but I didn’t get to that til a couple hours ago.
I switched on the laptop and the tv and found a documentary about the Amish.
I checked email and facebook and etsy and whatever else, pausing frequently to listen to the very quiet background music and the softspoken Amish people, and to gaze at the farmland and “plain” clothes drying on mile-long clotheslines. The farm animals, the hats and bonnets.
Quite a contrast I had going on there.
I went back up to bed and fell asleep again after Bill got up to take a shower.
And I found myself in a large, dark room, staring at furniture that looked somewhat familiar. Kind of like the low dressers in the spare bedroom at my grandparents’ house. But…why was it there? I don’t have that furniture any more…no – wait – I must have been borrowing it for my…dorm room…or my room in this apartment. And now…I looked around…it seemed I was packing. Maybe the school year was over and I was going home? That must be it. Why were the walls dark red? Hm. Maybe they were red before I moved in. I couldn’t remember. It was frustrating…my head felt full of sludge. I picked my way through the boxes of (my?) stuff on the floor and ended up staring at someone in a mirror. It couldn’t possibly be me, could it? I don’t have…orange, curly hair!
Maybe I…maybe I’d just gotten out of bed? Maybe I tossed and turned a lot and this…this orange frizz…was somehow the result? When did I get a perm? I peered closer…my hair was thinning! I could see far more scalp than normal…and…it was…gray. Gray. Orange thinning frizz and a gray scalp. I felt a strong urge to completely freak out, but I’ve worked so hard over the years to stay calm in the face of crisis that I couldn’t scream or anything. I just looked around the room at the furniture again. Wandered back into the center of the room…
And woke up. I looked around. No red walls, no grandparents’ furniture. Clutter – that was familiar.
But…still…this room wasn’t familiar, despite the kid clutter. It was still a big open room…with a wide doorway into a smaller room. Strange. At least my hair wasn’t orange. Well. It didn’t feel orange; there were no mirrors.
I went into the smaller room, and Bill was there, sitting in a ladderback chair near an old lawnmower.
Yep. A very old lawnmower. It was dirty. And red, where there was still paint. The front had a grille of thin, closely layered strips of dirty metal. As I looked at it, it started to…move. The grille. Little parts of it seemed to bubble up gently and then back down.
Bees! Or hornets! Or wasps! They have those papery nests you find hanging from the eaves, right? That’s sort of what the lawnmower grille looked like – an oily, dirty hornet’s nest!
I must have yelled out something (“Bees!” or “Hornets!” or something equally informative) and Bill stood up to wheel it out of the house…and at the same time, Alex and Julia came running in.
As I turned my head to look at the two chairs that were suddenly positioned together in front of me I yelled for the kids to SIT DOWN! AND STAY PUT! while Bill pushed the mower – oh so slowly! Why was everything going slowly now? – out of the house! Otherwise they might get STUNG! SIT DOWN! ALEX! JULIA! SIT DOWN BEFORE YOU GET STUNG!
But they ignored me, chasing each other around the big room and the small room, shrieking with laughter and IGNORING ME! I WAS TRYING TO KEEP THEM FROM GETTING STUNG! “LISTEN TO ME!” I YELLED. To no avail.
The mower moved slowly, and the kids ran and laughed, and I was close to tears as I tried to get the kids to sit still so the bees or hornets or wasps wouldn’t get them.
And then I was suddenly blinded by a very bright light.
Bill was out of the shower, came into our bedroom in our house without red walls or dirty lawnmowers, and switched on the light.
I realized I’d been dreaming, but at the same time, I felt like a big part of me was still stuck in that dream. I hadn’t worked my way out of it, floating gently into wakefulness. I’d been yanked out suddenly while my dream-mind was still dealing with bees and laughing kids.
It took a good half hour and most of my first cup of coffee to clear things up in my fogged brain.
And now that I write this out and look at it from a bit of a distance, I kind of get it.
I’ve always had dreams like this. Not exactly like this, but similar. The first one I remember came when I was still a kid…my sister and I were riding around in the back seat of a pale yellow convertible, my parents in the front seat. There was a lot of laughing, the wind in our hair, a bright blue sky. And as we drove over a low bridge, my sister jumped out of the car into the water below.
Not far below, but out of sight. And I jumped out after her, to save her. I am the big sister, after all.
It’s my job.
I jumped into the water (not deep – maybe up to my waist) – and couldn’t find her. She wasn’t there. I looked around in all directions, in a horrible panic, and then saw the car go driving by (somehow the bridge was a semicircle, part of a loop of road that went from solid land over water and back around onto the same solid land), and my sister was back in it, in her spot in the back seat. I felt a strange mixture of relief and letdown wash over me, and then I turned around, and there was a stingray swimming right at me.
And then I woke up.
She didn’t need me to save her.
And my kids weren’t going to get stung just because they were having fun.
I’ve found myself suddenly worrying about my kids’ manners. Specifically the whole “ladies first” aspect of politeness. Is it old-fashioned, in this day and age, to forget that? It’s not like I, for example, need someone to open a door for me, unless I’m carrying a bunch of packages and both my arms are otherwise engaged…but still…it’s nice, sometimes, to have that little bit of gallantry in my life. I don’t want my kids going through life shoving their way ahead of other people, and I want Alex to understand that it’s good manners to hold the door open for a girl.
And I think, really, that my kids are fine. They know what to do, and most of the time, they do it.
But for whatever reason, lately, I’ve got (apologies in advance for this pun) a bee in my bonnet about this and I find myself, at dinner time especially, when we’re all together, OBSESSING about manners. Alex’s in particular, mainly because he looks at me like I’m nutty when I say “ladies first.” And then he’ll belch, or chew with his mouth open, JUST TO ANNOY ME (and probably to see if my eyes can pop out ANY FARTHER THAN THEY ALREADY ARE, or if the throbbing vein in my temple can pulsate any faster.
And Bill just ignores all of it.
Because I am being a bit obsessive and nutty about it all, and he tries not to be supportive of obsessive and nutty. Meanwhile Alex is laughing with food in his mouth and I am squawking like a goose at him to shut his mouth while he eats and stop lauging while he eats BECAUSE HE COULD CHOKE!
Sometimes I wish I could abruptly wake up from these ridiculous moments in my real life and recover slowly with a hot, comforting mug of coffee.
Anyway, I’m thinking that the lawnmower dream represents my fear that the kids won’t behave properly in polite society when they grow up, but it’s also showing me that all my shrieking isn’t useful or effective either.
And they, like my sister after she jumped out of the car, don’t really need my unbalanced, crisis-ridden interference.
I wonder what the Amish dream about.