In my dream last night I was trying to find a place where I might wash my hair. My usual bathroom was unavailable because of tradesmen and therefore I needed to find another. I had already soaped up my hair with shampoo in readiness and stood talking in my dressing gown to my husband when two friends came by. Two friends I have known for a long time and feel mixed towards. They told us that their daughter had just died after an asthma attack. ‘She couldn’t keep up the fight,' they said.
They were devastated and their news devastated me, too. Throughout the rest of my dream wherever I went I found myself bursting into uncontrollable fits of weeping for this young woman, who happened to be the same age as one of my daughters. They were good friends. I told the mother that I worried about telling my daughter - who is very sensitive and would also deeply distressed - about her friend's death.
Somehow I managed to get a key to a hotel room where, without paying anything, I could have a shower and finish washing my hair.
I needed to cross Flinders Street but the lights were red. I waited in a crowd outside Young and Jackson’s, conscious that I stood only in my night gown in this most public of meeting places, under the clocks at Flinders Street station. Finally the lights changed and I tried to behave as though there was nothing unusual about a woman in her nightie in the middle of the city.
On my way upstairs in the lift I came across an old writing friend. She was attending a conference with another woman and seemed preoccupied even after I told her about the death of my friend’s daughter. I’d have thought she’d be able to show more interest but no. She left me alone with the burden of my grief.
It was as if I could not stop telling people about my sadness at this young woman’s untimely death. Other friends came by and I told them, too. They seemed more empathic but I had the sense that no one could really appreciate this loss except me and the girl’s parents.
Finally, I came to my hotel room but it was occupied by cleaning ladies who were making up the bed. I told them why I had come and they offered to leave the bathroom till last. A man came by, another hotel worker, who noticed on the table, just as I did, a screwed up wad of bank notes. A tip, I thought, as did the man because he took it up and commented that they’d have to share it around and how unfair it was not only to have to share it among themselves but also with the establishment.
In the next minute my husband’s mother arrived and I felt awkward in my half nakedness. She chased after me to give me a towel but I closed the door behind me fearful that she might disapprove.
Then the alarm signalled the time to get up.