‘Dreams are like water, colourless and dangerous’

Urban art -- Antique Quarter, Dublin

Urban art — Antique Quarter, Dublin

It’s The Wednesday of our Lives, halfway through a nine-month tour of Europe, three months in the UK. We remind Lily dreams aren’t real, sometimes they’re just a manifestation of our fears and hopes — but dreams you want to make real are different, like building a bridge from one place to another without knowing how long it will take or how far the space is in between. And the thing is, we have to build the bridge ourselves.

On the open-roofed double decker bus we learn U2 just played six sold-out shows here in a row, 16,000 people per night — and the Irish band the Boomtown Rats, their first show since 1985 around the corner from us here in Dublin on Dame Street. I tell a bartender about them and she asks what was their big hit, I say I Don’t Like Mondays, and how the song got its name, from a 16-year-old girl who shot up a bunch of people in a playground, that’s what she said when they asked her why she did it. Bob Geldof says many of the songs he wrote then could be written today, that one for sure.

Lily’s dreaming about her friends back home, running into them but they treat her differently, as if they don’t recognise her, it’s not the same. I’m dreaming about loved ones climbing the stairs from a basement and wishing me well, giving me advice, but I can’t remember what they said — like life, so much of it goes by unnoticed or left behind, misunderstood. Even our dreams can be as banal as life, forgettable.

And with the bridge-building, crossing the ambiguity of not knowing if we can really do what we want to do and just having to believe we can, there’s the option to stay close to home instead, and the comfort of a predictable life with nothing gained, nothing lost.

Cleaning out old email from earlier this year, snapshots of who we were then, imagining ourselves here now — and of course it’s not like what we imagined because it’s real, it’s bounded on all sides by the start and end of days, weeks, months — and nothing falls from the sky or appears from a hand in a lake in a magical clearing. There’s nothing ‘out there’ no matter how far you go, nothing you can’t find inside yourself.

And still a character like Don Quixote is so easy to follow because we see ourselves in him and his folly and wish we had the guts to gallop off in search of something just over the horizon that’s probably not there, to embrace the futile search for a grail to at least have some purpose in life, something to talk about and look back upon, to say we tried.

Homeschooling isn’t going the way we hoped, in sticking to a routine (though today we threatened to take the kids to the Wax Museum if they didn’t listen, and that got their attention), but we are getting to know each other better, and appreciate our teachers like never before, and our separate living quarters.

For writing today, I worked with Charlotte on two emails, watched as she scanned the keyboard with one finger to find the right letter, took roughly 40 minutes to send two messages, each about three lines.

I wrote my list of goals for 2016 for reading, writing, and earning a living. Funny to think of that phrase, how you need to earn a living. In life, as in dreams, no one walks up to you with the answer, you have to dive to the bottom for it.

Post title from the 4AD project This Mortal Coil, the record Blood, 1991.


Categories: travel, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. Dive to the bottom of that shallow grave!
    See? I don’t know how you pull this stuff off with all that stuff rattling around your head. If I tried this it would, well, it would sound like my emails. Pecking for thoughts instead of letters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the rattle of a snake, a baby, the bones of a pauper dragged o’er the cobblestones shouting, ‘it’s my 650th post on WordPress, all ye! I’ll outlive the bloody Internet!’

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I wonder if it’s Lily who won’t recognize them. After being gone a year, I remember I brought back a CD from Poland and played it for my friends while we drank the Bison grass vodka I’d also brought back. The vodka was dismissed as “grassy.” The music was instantly categorized as [insert category], compared to [insert band], and dismissed as outdated, and the topic quickly returned to Things American. Suddenly I felt like I didn’t know who these people were anymore, living on their big little island away from everyone else, and it kind of broke my heart a little bit.


    • That’s not an unusual scene you’ve described there, coming back from Poland. Your friends probably just wanted you back, and weren’t interested in endorsing anything associated with what took you away. That vodka is really grassy, though — I had some at an Estonian vodka bar in London and that’s all I remember, the grass. It will be weird and interesting, the ‘re-entry.’ I’m happy you chose to join me in this little outing, thanks…


  3. The old “we’ll take you to the wax museum” threat works every time.
    I hope your Thursday-Sunday turns out as interesting and fun as reaching hump-day.


    • Thank you Jon. Yes, that wax museum thing seemed to make an impression. A rare occasion they snapped their eyes on me and said ‘what?,’ in unison.


  4. I’ll take you to (any) museum works with my son. I must have taken him to our own City Museum way to often when he was small – now he loathes anything not connected to the internet 😦
    I suspect Walt may be right about your daughter – she’ll have a whole new perspective on the world and her friends will be the same as they ever were. Hope re-entry – when it comes – proves smooth

    Liked by 1 person

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