Chimera Song Mosaic
Monday, July 19, 2004
I have just been awakened from a dream featuring a childhood friend. She was the kind of friend foisted on me in youth that later became estranged because of the estrangement of the parents—hers and mine. This began after the accidental death of her father. In the dream I came to know her again in the way that childhood friends return to each other, despite the conditions of the parents’ relationships, despite the parents themselves.
When I got up out of bed, I went through that mental list that one goes through when awakened suddenly from a deep sleep, the one that registers existence and reorients one’s mind in reality. This checklist determined that the girl (now a woman, but she had been more of a girl in the dream, just as she had been) was, in fact, a real person and not just a dream-person, and it concluded the same about me. (The kinds of questions I asked myself: Where was I? We had been at a beachside souvenir shop in the dream. Where am I now? My room, but I had just rearranged it, inverted the bed and the furniture, so that I was now sleeping upside down on my side of the bed. Where is my father? In S— A—, most likely. Where is her father? Then that last question jarred me back, so to speak.)
The question of fathers is integral to our relationship since it was the friendship between our two fathers that brought us together in the first place, both of them, an American and an Englishman, respectively, working in Libya at the time. Later, after her father’s death, it was revealed that her older brother was not her father’s child. The mother pulled them away from our family, moved her two children back to Texas. After that, my father saw no reason to visit London ever again, and he avoids it on his business trips. Like her, I am the second child of my family, a middle child. But there were no more children after she was born.
I was awakened by a phone call, a wrong number. I think the person they wanted was Mr. Rodriguez. On my walk back from the toilet, I resented being awakened for a wrong umber, and I was greedy for my dream again, for the mark of the same moment I had been ripped from. But at the same time, I knew I wouldn’t get back to it, knew I wouldn’t even get back to sleep at that time, although I tried. But then I was almost tricked away from the waking world by thinking that I was still in the dream when I realized I had not moved the phone back to my nightstand. So how had I received such the call for Mr. Rodriguez? I had no real-time memory of it. But I had placed both the mobile phone and my cellular on the nightstand before I went to sleep. Why was it so important for me to be reached? I think thought of what a bad idea it is to put a phone next to the side of the bed. That was my first coherent thought.
I got back under the covers; I so wanted to be back asleep again. To be back in the dream but mostly to remove myself from the ugliness of the wrong number, to return to the beauty of the dream. But then pulling at me more strongly was the hunger to record. And then the choice was made for me when the doorbell rang: a package not for me. A work thing. The working world is so rude to the person who stays at home in the daytime: courtesy calls, unannounced power outages, doorbell interruptions. It’s sad to think that people who are most susceptible to depression and most sensitive to presentations from the exterior world (those who have unstructured, alone time at home during the day) are also the ones subjected to the coldest greetings. Imagine waiting at home all day, really thinking you are working and thinking, but also realizing that you are, in essence, waiting—for what?—a letter, a postcard, news from publishers, a call from an old friend—as far as the working world sees it, you are a potential target waiting by the phone for a solicitor, by the door for a salesman, and what you get is this: a package for someone else; a wrong number; a credit card offer by phone; a rejection slip; a credit card offer through the mail. This life is very sad sometimes.

 The other day, the pest control guy came by, and I was surprised to see he was about 19 years old (he even told me he wasn’t old enough to drink). He revealed to me that one of the largest pest control companies in the United States has a new marketing strategy. They recruit young Mormon men, just back from their missions, as door-to-door salespeople and send them around the country, selling their services. Ones who are accustomed to traveling all over, knocking on stranger’s doors and chatting them up. He told me he never could get used to it, so instead he’s doing the exterminating. You have to admire the brilliance and efficiency of this plan. Now I have to shower, get dressed, and check the mail.

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