Stockholm Deficit Disorder
Every time I dream about an airplane crashing, I wake up and quickly check the news for airplane crashes. Last week I dreamed the dream, an odd adventure that had me somehow back in my firefighter days, and I was running to the scene of the accident with a fire extinguisher, running, for some reason, through an impoverished ghetto, finding the wreckage burning against the side of a building, with the homeless surrounding the flames for warmth, a macabre sort of burn barrel. A few hours after I woke, I read about the crash that killed the coach and assistant coach at Oklahoma State.
One day I will dream of a crash the day before I am to board a plane and I will board it anyway, but I will linger at my son’s bed and touch his curls and remember carrying him to the lake and thinking, ‘Goddamn, this is a fine looking boy.’ And I will sneak into my daughter’s room and touch her cheek and imagine she is at the kitchen table, quietly drawing pictures of storybook monsters, with pieces of apple stuck to chin.
I will sit at the foot of our bed and see all our beds and the light our bedrooms let in. Through dusty Turkish smoke in spring and the tiny tenement window cut into concrete of student housing like we were prisoners. The first place we had with real carpet, whose light was filtered by pines, and the brick house on our first cul-de-sac, safe and quiet. An old Kansan ranch where we lived so briefly I’m ashamed to admit I have no image burned into my memory. And our first home, its leaky roof notwithstanding, that sheltered us from cold, and gave us real light, facing the south, like every room should, to welcome sunset and wish sunrise goodnight, alike.
We welcome every day, whether hospitably or hostilely, and we show each evening the way home, or allow it an overnight stay. And then our bedroom bears silent witness to the birds and the weather.
Yesterday was pleasant enough. But I miss long, comfortable conversations. So much of the holidays are small, pleasant talk, fumbling around the bedrooms of your brain for names and jobs and the details of the last time we met exchanged with distant relatives and friends-of-the-family. Sometimes you forget the particulars of a religious or political bent, and you tiptoe cautiously around current events. Weather and children and pets make their living in this space.
Two of the party-goers were there with recent matches made on-line, and another, high as a kite, was awaiting the angry arrival of an ex to pick up their daughter. Three or four gave speeches toasting thankfulness for their wives, and one girl, knee high what seemed like yesterday, was there at the main table, lifting a glass to her tearful parents. It is a lonely place for me, and I stole away without saying goodbye, still incapable of departing like a normal person. I drove home alone and fed turkey to the dog and for some reason dreamed an elaborate dream of being kidnapped by monsters who walked me through barren college campuses that melted into sprawling cityscapes on unpleasant errands. The monsters became bored with me, however, as I kept annoying them with probing questions, and suddenly I was free to find my way back, nonplussed, as is wont in dreaming. Today I will skip the sales and hope to spend all my money on meaning.