I had a dream last night, about the first man I ever loved. The first “real” man I mean, apart from Luke Perry. We met in the fall of 1996, it must have been when I was 17.
The dream was unique not because of the details (though some weird things did happen like possibly something about a swimming pool at the back of a church?) but because of what and how I remember feeling, sensing in the dream.
One little vignette stands out to me particularly. We were sitting on a couch together, and I was leaning into his shoulder nook on his right side but looking directly at the side of his face. I remember that, for some utterly incomprehensible reason, he had a rat’s tail whose end was attached to a tennis ball. Whaaa? Hey, it was a dream!! I remember that, seeing that, wondering about that. I also remember him taking my hand, how that felt, and then him kissing it. The softness of his lips against the back of my hand. I remember the smell of his neck. I remember the feel of him, and the sound of his voice, which though I did hear it briefly in person about four years ago, I cannot say I remember in great detail. He didn’t even really look like him, but I knew it was.
Of course in the moments after waking, the details go (I really wish they hadn’t because I think it was a fascinating dream I’d love to tear apart – why was there a swimming pool at a church?????) but what says is the feeling in your heart. I’m sure it’ll fade with the day and the days ahead and fade into the library of dreams we have had in our lives.
But I’ll take the memory for as long as I can.
Oh, also, man… you probably know who you are, something about a test… I hope you do, and I really hope you’re not mad at me for sharing this story. I also really hope you never decide you should have a rat’s tail. Not a good look for you.
Yesterday morning I woke up, and I remember hearing a lone bird singing. If you are in Los Angeles, or anywhere suffering from the wildfires and resulting smoke, you may also have noticed the lack of birdsong. There are a few stragglers, to be sure, but there are fewer than usual, and I very specifically noticed the bird chirping yesterday morning. It was a moment of great beauty in a personal time of some pretty deep angst, and you can see that it affected me enough to write about it the next day.
You see, I think that our five senses – or, more appropriately, our lived experience of our five senses – is so ingrained, so seemingly effortless, as to be almost unnoticeable.
When that lived experience is taken away from us – or, more appropriately when we are taken away from it – it becomes even more imperative that we recreate these experiences for ourselves, in our homes, with our friends (as much as is safe, of course), our partners, our business interactions.
Even as someone whose business centers around these exact experiences, I realized this weekend that I am struggling enormously to find experiences for myself that trigger any sort of deep sensory response. I cook, yes. I taste wine, yes. I taste chocolate (my God, I have a lot of chocolate)… but those experiences, those travels, those new restaurants and new thrift stores, new roads taken and new people met, all that is so blindingly missing. And it hurts. It hurts terribly.
I worry that perhaps I’ve lost the ability to know how to interact, to know how to be with a group of people for an extended period of time, to forge new relationships, that this time inside has become the new normal that we will embrace moving forward to our own detriment. I hope not. I have to believe not, but I think about it every time I click that red “End Meeting” button at the bottom of the Zoom screen, and my guests and musicians just… go away.
Those moments after a performance or an event has concluded are so beautiful. Yes, of course you’re tired, but on a perfect day, after you’ve taken off your costume or put your instrument away, you get to relive the energy with your friends or cast mates or bandmates over a drink at the bar. You get the opportunity to forge some sensory memories as you pick your drink, find your physical spot at the bar, enter into conversation with a new person, hear a new voice, take a new route home at night… perhaps I’m just waxing poetic this early Monday morning (and how did I get here from a dream about the first man I ever loved?), and I hope you’ll forgive me.
How I got here is because the sensory memory of that man was so incredibly powerful as to bring back the purest, most delicious feeling of love I have ever known. I remember, as he boarded the bus away from our little rural town in the Berkshires back to the big city, thinking that… if it was supposed to be, it would be. That was of course before cell phones and Instagram, even before email, and I knew, even then, that it might not ever happen for us. But I also knew then that it was love.