Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mother of A Night


Mom always said I should get a good night's sleep and I'm starting to see why.

I'm on the Netflix routine, so every weekend, I jam a couple of DVD's into the old player piano and catch up on the movies and TV shows that I've been missing.

For the last few weeks I've been watching an HBO series called Carnivale, a enjoyably bizarre little tale that got canned a couple of years ago.

It has one of the most entertaining opening credit sequences that I've ever seen, with a swooping camera that goes into tarot card images which then morph into Depression Era newsreel footage.

The show's got all sorts of weird, supernatural elements that I enjoy and, while I've heard the program ended with a lot of loose ends hanging, I still intend to ride down this dead end street until I run out of blacktop.

I watched an episode last week where the hero, a young man with a mysterious past--naturally--is being tortured by strange dreams.

I was watching late Saturday night and I must have nodded off. The next thing I remember I was sitting across the table from my mother.

She was wearing what looked like my old blue trench coat and I wonder if that was some connection to the garage sale we had last month. We brought out the old clothes and other family stuff, maybe some memories tagged a long.

My mother said nothing in this dream and her face was a blank slate--no emotion at all. I find this so frustrating,so disturbing. I want to hear her voice, I want her to speak to me, to tell me things, but instead she just stares at me.

Of course,the last time I dreamed out her was in profile, so at least now she was looking my way.

My sister thinks this was a visitation, but I think this was a dream inspired by the TV show, a bit of subconscious channel surfing that produced this little number.

Still, why would I dream of my mother, especially since I dream about her so rarely?

Before the Beginning

I had gone to to a friend's birthday earlier in the evening at a fabulous Cuban restaurant on Eighth Avenue.

I was a little apprehensive, as I didn't know who would be there, but it turned out to be a great night, with just four people, delicious food, and wild Latin jazz.

The place reminded me why I like New York so much. Yes, the city has theater, museums, and Central Park, but it also funky little places like this.

I had actually thought about not going to this dinner and I'm glad I didn't give to that comfort zone way of thinking.

However, something happened on the way to the restaurant that I think is worth mentioning. As I rode on the D train, a young couple got on at West Fourth Street with their baby.

The man was white, the woman was Asian, and their little girl was adorable. She sat there on the bench looking around and making these funny sounds like a cartoon character.

She was so beautiful, and the couple seemed so happy, that I had this incredible mood swing in a matter of seconds.

One moment I was admiring this lovely child, feeling happy and tender, and then in the next moment, I realized I don't have a kid of my own and probably never would, and this terrible sadness came over me.

It was so bad and so sudden that I wanted to put my face in my hands and cry my eyes out.

I was able to control myself and I got off at Rockefeller Center. But clearly this is not a good way to live. I wonder now if this parental longing somehow resulted in the dream about my mother.

Is she disappointed in me for not giving her grandchildren? I doubt it. My mother wasn't that kind of person.

Is she trying to comfort me? It's too hard to say. The look on her face betrays no emotion whatsoever.

Maybe if I thought about her more often, I might get some answers. To be brutally honest, I live in the past, replaying old slights and insults until the years evaporate and the pain is like new.

I have all these fond memories of my mother, of all the good times we had together, you'd think I'd replay some of those on my emotional juke box, instead of blasting myself with the past.

The only trouble with that reasoning, of course, is that every time I do call up a treasured memory of my mother, I slide into sadness when I think that I'll never see her again.

I had one more strange dream a few nights ago. This was truly a nightmare, though, where I'm in a church wearing nothing but a towel.

I had terrified, helpless, Apparently, in this dream, this was the second time I ended up nearly naked in a church.

I dove under the table holding the votive candles and tried to hide, but then a fat ugly nun--redundant?--waddles down the aisle holding a flashlight.

She shines her wicked beam on me and gives me the "get lost" thumb. As I get up, doing my best to cover myself, I tell the bouncer-nun that Jesus wouldn't throw people out of church.

"Jesus didn't live in here all the time," she responded.

Now how come this psychopath can address me directly when I can't get a word out of my own mother? I guess that's why they call these things nightmares.

A church is usually considered a place of refuge, a sanctuary--remember The Hunchback of Notre Dame?--but in this dream I was getting the bum's rush by a flashlight-wielding nun.

She was like one of the ushers (usherettes?) that used to work at the old Fortway Theater when I was growing up.

As a victim of a Catholic school education, I have a boundless distaste for nuns. The ones I had at school were horrible people who should not have been allowed anywhere near a child, let alone teach one.

So in this dream I am exposed, literally, and kicked out of a place of worship by a nightmare figure from my childhood. Is the nun some dark version of my mother?

Some orders actually refer to the sisters as "Mother." I do, too, but I usually add a second word to that title just to show them how I really feel.

I can't blame a TV show for this latest nightmare, not when I have 8 years of Catholic school behind me.

Or is it behind me?

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