To go home

Jan 18, 2012 at 6:00 am

A while back, I heard a song that I wanted to tell you about. The words reminded me of something that you told me, something that had happened to you a long time ago, and the melody was achingly sweet. It was almost like I went back in time and met a younger version of you, how fresh and optimistic you were!

As I looked around, I saw the world through your wide eyes as you were formulating your most ambitious hopes and wildest dreams. The air smelled sweeter, and the colors of the warm afternoon were richer than what I had noticed in quite some time.

Warily, I approached you, and taking great risk, I offered you an innocuous greeting, concerned that any interaction might somehow change the path of your happiness. Of course, you didn’t recognize me, you hardly noticed me as I passed by, seemingly cheerful, tipping my hat, so to speak.

But when I got to you, to tell you, I found that you were sleeping. You were so peaceful, so completely somewhere else that I knew waking you would be wrong, but I stood there for a long while watching you sleep. I thought about waking you, but the wrongness of the jarring shift from whatever blissful dreamland you were exploring to the shock of my need to report to you an experience that I might, at best, be able to vaguely approximate was achingly obvious. Maybe I could somehow convey that sweet mix of happy and sad and sound and meaning as I had perceived it and processed it, but compared to the apparent sweetness of whatever unconscious experience was firing the synapses in your brain, even my fantasy of the most perfectly executed description was rendered hopelessly mundane.

The thought had crossed my mind that I could sit and watch you sleeping, but as I considered the possibility, the weight of my body dissolved as if into a mist. You lay there sleeping, and I suddenly felt myself dissipate. I began to whisper the words of the song that I had wanted to tell you about. I got some of them wrong, but it made no difference, of course, and as I got to the chorus, with its many sweet turns of phrase and those amazing intervals, I came into my full voice. You still didn’t stir, not that I wanted you to … I guess I wanted to maybe add the sweetness of the melody to the landscape of your dream; there couldn’t be any harm in that, could there?

And then, as I fell under the trance of the song, the lines getting mixed up and losing their meaning, I think I slipped into a dream of my own, one in which you had let go of your secrets, those mysteries that you hid inside your dreams, those private thoughts that you reserved for special trusted counsel, the darkness that had always informed your pleasant demeanor.

We wrestled with that for a time, but it was a lighthearted scuffle, and before long it became no more than a tearful embrace, a coming together. I wasn’t as shocked by these revelations as you might have thought I would be; you are, after all, only human, a creature of apparent simplicity that can never be fully known or discovered.

When I woke up, you were gone, and I thought about how you must have risen, going about your morning routine, getting ready to go out into the day. Had you noticed my salutation in your dream? Did you hear the song?

As I went about my morning routine, straightening the bed, getting dressed, I noticed a little glass marble on the floor. I kneeled down to pick it up and sat for a minute, holding it in my hand, between my fingers, observing that only one side was visible at any given moment. But as I felt it with my fingers, its fuller nature was apparent and revealed itself completely.

In memory of my aunt, Beverly Miles Mulroony.


Recommendation: On or about the first of January, my friend William recommended the song “This Will Be Our Year,” from the Zombies’ great Odessey and Oracle. I had played the album intermittently over the years, but it never really took hold. This time, however, I dug it, played it for my son, and he’s been digging it, too. Hearing music through the ears of a friend enhances the listening experience immeasurably.