NYC Journal #26 – A dream
Couldn’t say where it began or where it ended.
Will try to recall larger pieces of the swirling techtonics.
But the buzz-rattling and the clank-hammering from down and across the street undo my thoughts.
Clench my heart, make me hate.
I need to leave this place.
I need to go somewhere quiet.
Somewhere without music blasting by every ten minutes and then sometimes, oh, actually that particular blare isn’t a drive-by, it’s going to stay for hours.
The drilling burrows into me, shakes me apart from the inside.
Makes me sick all through.
And then there’s some fan or something that winds forever, a little off in its casing, making a constant (I mean ALWAYS) background whining gyration that floats at the back of every would-be still moment.
In time one begins to feel the constant noises as an assault, an affront on one’s personhood, one begins to feel constantly attacked, belittled, pushed around; sound is forced upon you, the forcers don’t care that it is tearing you down, tightening your shoulders, crushing your love, they shove it down your throat.
In time madness creeps in at all sides like a viscous liquid, perspective evaporates, a thick haze of agitated, dementia-esque confusion fills the space of your shouders-tense face-tense breathe-tense space.
You turn up the white noise machine.
And put the headset earmufflers on.
Those goddamn beeps! From the backing-up trucks.
It is time to go, but today you can’t.
The nice part was when you were at the young lady’s house.
Who was she?
The shorter of two Hispanic girls.
Did you know the taller one, and that’s why you were at the shorter’s apartment?
And who was that guy?
About your height (shortish).
Anyway, at first the girl’s white or perhaps yes I think gray with dark lines kitty cat is purring up against your leg as you sit on the faded hardwood floor with one leg folded under you and the other folded up with your kneed near your chin. And before long the cat is crawling over your back, so you are obliged to bend more and more forward and become more and more of a mesa for the kitten, which is rubbing the side of it’s head all the way down your spinal column.
The shorter of the women, who owns the apartment and the cat, says that means it likes you, and she mentions something vaguely scientific that your dreammind didn’t even bother to record, that you can recall your dreammind sort of jumping over, that your dreammind knew it could not coherently provide.
At some point the shorter girl, dressed in poofy denim shorts and a nice soft shiny white blouse, is sitting behind you, straddling you, and so serving as a recliner for you. You’re on the floor, seated somehow at a table, but nothing’s going on at the low coffee table where you’re seated. And the other two people are also around, in the room, and the all three of you are talking. You want to put your hands on her naked legs. But you’re not sure you can. But then you figure, wait!, I’m allowed to sit like this, leaning back into her while she wraps her arms around my chest from behind, so surely! And so you caress her legs, and they are soft but with a little prickly sandpapery stubble. Like she skipped shaving them for a day.
She is short an shapely and it feels like she loves you and you love her.
It’s a relief.
A relief to realize you’re being held and you’re caressing her legs and there’s nothing problematic about any of that, that that is all actually just right for all involved.
The two scenes in like upper Manhattan or the Bronx.
Because at first there are kids throwing rocks at a garage door, but then a couple towards a street sign on the edge of the sidewalk, so you run out into the pebbly side of the road and run as fast as you can forward, to avoid being hit by a rock.
And then there’s like a big puddle of dirty light-brown water and a wooden plank that’s going soft and bendy that you walk on to get over the puddle. And two young thin black boys. What are they doing? Playing on the steps of an apartment building? But why do the steps run down along the side of the sidewalk instead of going from the side of the sidewalk straight to the apartment building stoop? Well, for one thing, these bare concrete steps are long and they lead more to like a landing than a stoop.
Maybe those two boys are playing around the puddles in the front.
Maybe this is a construction site.
What is it the one says to the other?
Something about somebody who, right after he’d gotten himself together and things were looking up, got shot in the head. For no reason, apparently. The dream supplies you with that detail. It was a random incident, he’d not been the intended target, if there’d even been one, which detail the dream doesn’t provide.
What’s the third one? A kid also on concrete steps. Also a little skinny black boy, 7 or 8 or so. Doing something weird with a big cooking pot and a metal half-dome noodle sieve. What is it? some kind of pretend cooking operation? But what is that stuff in the pot? Skinless green grapes? No, because it is gooier than that. Or is it?
And he too says something about somebody getting shot, and in the same light, matter-of-fact way as the first boy had. Some comment in which the point is somebody getting shot, but that’s also not really the point, the somebody getting shot is too normal and everyday for that to be the point, the somebody being shot underlines some other point the kid’s making, like, as in the first comment: in life, you just never know.
And then the dream you is evolving a theory on government’s inability to monopolize violence and the parallels between the upiquitousness of guns in many areas of NYC and nuclear proliferation. Something to do with how in both cases the state has lost control over the weapons it uses to maintain order. In both cases, there’s a lack of trust in the state to provide order, particularly a safe and fair one. Your dreamself recalls to mind a property manager, fired a year or two ago, back when he wasn’t fired, talking about gun showdowns with his posse and the posses of some kids selling drugs out the basement of one of the newly acquired fixer-upper apartment buildings. Was it true? You don’t know. Also called to dreammind are his talk about how the police don’t care what happens on that block: “Let them kill themselves.” And that string of pithy sayings he once started reeling off, all meant to point out that it’s better to go to jail for carrying a weapon than to end up dead because you can’t defend yourself. Things like: “Better behind bars than underground.” In the dream you are now in Europe, walking on one side of a narrow road with tall gray buildings on either side (no sidewalks), and a tiny little car — something with the rounded hood and wheel-casings of a cartoon-car — drives at you on the other side. And you are saying that the North Korean and etc. regimes must also have such sayings, sayings about how it’s better to face sanctions than to be destroyed.
What is the part in the housing development?
And the scary part with the closing walls?
And the awkward part about the check.
And then there was the proposal about mandating that all buildings have yards.
And another theory. What was this other theory about?