Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I was showering in a bathtub with no curtain. The tub was in a large room that was still under construction — the lumber and wiring were visible. Because of a slow drain, the tub was almost completely full of water, some of which had sloshed over the side and onto the floor. Not wanting it to overflow, I turned off the water — but then I remembered that my hair was still full of shampoo, so I turned the water back on to rinse it out, except that now the nozzle was on the other end of the tub, and I could see kids playing outside through a hole in the wall where a window would eventually be. As soon as the shampoo was gone I turned off the water, only to find that my hair was already combed and dry. I stepped out of the tub fully clothed: I had on new dark-gray corduroy pants and a colorful sweater vest I thought I had worn many years earlier. I walked with confidence, minding my much-improved posture, into a corridor that led to a large conference room that had been divided with temporary carpeted partitions and makeshift doors into small galleries. One gallery had a display of small carvings that looked like little beehives with faces on them. The next gallery was called the Glass Room. In it were several small round dining tables set for dinner, complemented by heavy, ornate glasses rimmed with glitter. The glasses were wide, without stems. Across from the Glass Room there was a snack bar, but no one was on duty. I walked past the snack bar into another room that turned out to be a dirt lane into what I thought must be the eighteenth or nineteenth century. There was straw scattered along the side, and the walls were lined with enormous old books. I saw a gigantic set of encyclopedias; each volume was about a foot thick and four or five feet tall. I walked further, then entered a wealthy old library: another wall, at least twenty feet high and forty feet long, lined with beautiful books of various sizes and bindings, covered with dust. I wanted to look at them, and wished there was a ladder. I turned away and went into another room. My brother and his wife were there. I told them I couldn't sleep — that I hadn't slept for years, because the bed was so hard, no matter how well it was made. My brother nodded, then said he had the same problem with that bed, that he rarely slept more than five hours a night, unless he was "working on Saroyan" — referring not to our cousin, Aram, but to his father, Willie — in which case he didn't sleep at all.

3 comments:

ryan manning said...

what difference does it make

William Michaelian said...

Well, I don’t know. What difference does any of it make? A dream is a dream. But if you’re referring to the part about “working on Saroyan,” which is exactly how the dream ended, maybe I can shed some light. First, William Saroyan, or “Willie,” as our family called him, was my grandmother’s first cousin. He visited our house many times — not as a famous writer, as he never once talked shop, but as a relative. His son, Aram, I haven’t met. Meanwhile, this year is the elder Saroyan’s centennial. My brother lives in Armenia, and he has attended many Saroyan events and performances there over the last few months. So maybe that’s the source for that part of the dream. I’ve dreamt about Willie and my other deceased uncles and cousins many times, and written about them elsewhere. The dreams always feel significant to me, as I miss these people greatly, and because they were such an important part of my life. They are my family.

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