I've never been great at remembering my dreams, or caring much to do so.
And I've been told that reading other people's dreams can be dullsville. But under the influence of a heavy cocktail of sedatives, anti-biotics, anti-inflammatories and an oxygen tube, for some reason I woke up with a vivid recollection of this fever dream and had to write it down in my journal.
So at the risk of sending some of my loyal readers off to greener or other pastures, here it is for you to help me analyze!
In a wooded area a group of children are playing ball. Some of them are my cousins. But the balls we are throwing are heads made of stone or carved wood. Like temple icons. Malaysian perhaps? We laugh callously as they shatter.
I throw one high up and it lands with a splash in a large river of dark mud and disappears underneath the surface with a bubbly belch. I am surprised to find that hidden under the mud is my Uncle, sitting behind the wheel of a luxury car, perhaps a Jaguar, although he memorably drove a Cadillac back in the 60's when we spent the most time together.
He angrily gets out and challenges me. "What the hell are you doing? Don't you know what those are worth?"
Near tears I carefully pick up the stone face. It is now thin, not the round ball I threw, but like a plate that tapers to a point, with an exotic face carved on it. The top of the head is indeed cracked from the fall, but I try to hide that from my Uncle as I carefully carry it to give the illusion that it is still intact.
He leads me to a door on the property which opens upon an elaborate set of wooden steps which pull down, like the concealed steps leading to an attic, but in the opposite direction. We enter a basement room which is a veritable Aladdin's Cave of estate-sale treasures housed in wooden racks with wooden shelves, row after row. I am taken aback by the number of workers down there, who seem quite busy with purpose, but who task is indiscernible to me as they remain just at the edge of my vision, although the room - if yellowish - is well-lit.
I recognize some of the items as being from my grandmother's old house in Detroit, the one she abandoned after the riots there in 1968. My Uncle asks me to pay particular attention to one light fixture of pink or rose glass, folded and curved, beautiful in a kitsch way, which he removes from its tissue-wrapped place on one of the shelves.
I'm late for something and I remember that I am supposed to attend a wedding involving some member of my Uncle's family, presumably one of my cousins, although I am not certain. My room - it could be a hotel room, or maybe a guest room in the very house that contains the basement treasure room - seems to also be part of some impossible architectural amalgam as it also houses the synagogue where the wedding is to take place.
I have packed light. Too light for the occasion. But I am pleased to find that I remembered to pack a black sport coat, which I plan to throw on over the unfortunate black t-shirt with some slogan written boldly across the front in acid-green lettering I am wearing. Yet instead of my suitcase I find a gym bag, a large duffel size like a coach would use for carrying baseball bats. Luckily when I unzip it I find an old-fashioned gray mohair jacket like something out of On The Waterfront. I put it on and go downstairs to find the ceremony, worrying it is already in progress.
Entering an elaborate apparel shop in the lobby, I gradually realize it is a temple gift shop on steroids, with a large and varied assortment of hats and shawls and other clothing and knick knacks along with the menorahs and other Jewish religious items. I want to buy a hat but there are too many to choose from, and I am conscious that I need to grab a yarmulke but I can't find the basket that holds them.
Leaving this gift shop/haberdashery, I finally enter the reception in progress, and am immediately confronted by a boorish guest who is offering me his criticism of the movie "Synecdoche" which was directed by Charlie Kaufman. "What a bore" he starts, but just like the scene in Annie Hall, as I am defending the merits of the movie as a profound examination of death and the meaning of life, the real writer-director Charlie Kaufman emerges from the crowd of invited wedding guests, dressed much nicer and more appropriately than I am.
I am subtly pleased that he heard me spontaneously defending the film while unaware that he was there to bear witness, as it seemed proof of my sincerity. I notice that Michael Costigan, another Hollywood producer and executive is also in the room. As is a large sweaty man who in my dream I identify as the producer Paul Schiff, but who bears no resemblance to the real-life Paul Schiff, who I hardly know at all let alone well, but I always have felt to be of fine proportion and dryness.
I am perplexed why these folks from Hollywood are here to attend this wedding ceremony at this wooded temple/gift store/house/basement storage facility with my relatives from Detroit. Who invited them? Which side of the wedding party were they on? Who were the bride and groom? Was this even a wedding?
I felt like I was violating the protocol and procedures for how and when the guests were entering the temple to be seated, so I just walked in and found myself inside a steeply-stepped semi-circular ampitheater. A loud voice like a tannoy over a loudspeaker at a railway station was calling out the names of guests and their assigned seat numbers. Heads turned as I made my way down the aisle. I searched in vain for my wife or some member of my family. Most of the women wore head scarves making them look more Muslim than Jewish. Luckily I was wearing a large black shawl that I must have unconsciously picked up from the gift shop so at least 90% of inappropriate t-shirt was covered. But my head was naked, and I could feel the collected disapproval of the crowd.
I temporarily took any nearby seat to get my bearings, as the mix of past and present, Hollywood and childhood, broken family relationships and broken pottery, the Torah and the screenplay of "Synecdoche" - was just too potent for my stability.
I woke up.