What a Lovely Place

This morning I dreamed that I rode my bike home from downtown Iowa City. The trouble was that between downtown and my house sprang up mountains. When I got to my neighborhood, everything was so jagged that I had to carry my bike. But there, cutting across the face of the steepest mountain, was a semi-private path. I figured a little semi-trespass was appropriate when a person had to carry a bicycle, so down the trail I went–until I realized I had entered somebody’s arbored garden. Well, mush, Meggie. Act like you know what you’re doing. The arbors turned into a tunnel, and the tunnel turned into a passage that branched into three cinderblock paths that were clearly now, under the house. I was in these people’s cellar. I turned to go back, but of course I’d lost track of the entrance.

So there I was, standing next to a me-sized pile of dusty shoeboxes. A prong from a young deer’s antler stuck from a hole in one of them. I wandered. I heard footsteps overhead. I found a clutch of weathervanes in a corner, pointing every which way. I stepped over a knee-high wall that comprised of the connected feet of several beds, where along the front, someone had tacked old album jackets of The Mamas and the Papas. I entered a room full of stacked cathode televisions, which glowed softly with their green. I kicked a matchbox car, and found a floor of hundreds of them, all arranged in as if in parking lot. 

Every now and then I came to a locked door. Some were glass, and the light came in. Others said, KEEP CLOSED, or NOT AN EXIT. I opened one unlocked door, and a stuffed horse head met me on the other side.

I left that door, and pried open a glass one that led to the outside. I entered a garden. I’d find somebody. I’d apologize. I’d get the hell out.

A stick-thin woman with brittle hair lay in one of those 1970s chaise lounges. 

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I tried a shortcut. And I know I shouldn’t have, and I got lost.”

“Sure thing.” She lay back, and splayed her arms at her sides.

“I just don’t know how to get out, is all.”

“No problem.” She closed her eyes.

I looked around. The yards had knee-high weeds. It had clothes on the line that looked as if they had hung there for months.

I went back inside. I found a scatter of basket-weaving reeds that leaned against the wall and curled away in a sort of wave. Somebody strummed a guitar.

I followed the sound past empty gerbil and bird cages. A young man with long, brown hair sat on a red velour bed with his shirt off. He played an Alvarez, and looked up without stopping.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m trying to get out.”

He looked at me. He stood. “Capo, capo.” He rummaged the sheets.

Then I awoke to James’s alarm. 

I lay there. I scruffled the cat. I told James the dream, and he sat up.

“Whoa,” he said. “You found the Hotel California.”

(Originally posted May 20, 2018)

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