Have you ever slept it off to the bones,
and woken up at night,
my love,
having dreamt you called them all,
every person you could never love?”

Awoke in the middle of the night, the air stale from another California April which feels more akin to some late Summer night, and my head felt full of distorted half-dreamt images. They say in the dreamscapes of your mind all the struggles you try to deny and repress surface, playing out on the inside of closed eyelids on a flickering screen.

But, most nights the faces have changed, even mine, and I’m never quite sure which way I’m supposed to be going, which door to leave locked, or if there is a me in any of it, at all. I just spin and float, my lips chapped and cheeks flushed, trying to traverse the long-hallways, the rain soaked city streets, and the deep waters below me (there is always some kind of water in my dreams, near me, surrounding me, falling from the sky), to find something – that ever elusive something – that keeps me moving, and dreaming.

My dreams, they always play in color, and quite often there is a musical soundtrack spinning somewhere in the background. The latter is not too unexpected, really, as in my waking life, there are very few moments that are without musical accompaniment. Often I greet the morning with the remnants of last night’s dream in the form of a lyric tumbling through my mind, or a song stuck in me so persistently that I catch myself singing it, aloud, the rest of the day.

Sometimes the song is the only thing remaining; the only thing I take with me from the dream.

There was this diner in my dream last night. I’ve seen it before in my dreaming life, though sometimes the colors change. Last night it was grey with blue letters that lit up the night. It was some kind of neon middle-of-the-city 24-hour kind of place that you’d call a joint and expect to be offered strong coffee and some kind of finger-food fried in too much grease, when inside.

There was a girl sitting in a leather booth there, alone, her hair tucked under a dark red beret – like the one I’ve had since the early 90’s from before my oldest was born – and she was leaning over a composition book writing something intently. A young waitress came to fill her coffee up and she mumbled thank you without looking up from the page. The waitress smelled like that hairspray that a girl I once knew used to wear, small hands like hers, too, so tiny and pale. I know it wasn’t her, though, just a memory-recall version that the psyche creates to cast one’s dreams.

We do that when we write stories, don’t we? The characters crafted a mismatch of people we’ve known in our lives, some more vividly drawn then the others.

The girl reached for her coffee, lifted it to her lips with one hand, while with the other she tore out the sheet of paper she’d been writing on. The only words that were recognizable were the words “I love you“. She held the sheet in front of her, then crumpled it up in the palm of her hand, stuffing it deeply into the pocket of an over-sized coat she had just resting around her shoulders. Then she took another drink of her coffee, a long swallow, finishing it.

I don’t remember much else after that. There were other things, images that flashed, and overheard words that rose and fell like musical scales around the dream, but this is what I took with me into my day. And, this song, although it was not playing in the background (nothing was this time), it is what I thought of immediately, and it is the song that has been stuck in my head all day.

The dream gave me a gift, of sorts, and the inspiration I needed, as well as a reminder that there are words I have been meaning to say but keep crumpling up and stuffing away until later. Maybe later is okay though, as long as I know the words are there inside my pocket, or inside of me. I’ve always been one to rush things – everything – but maybe this time it is the right thing to do to tuck some things away, until the later feels more like the now.

Starlite Diner :: Ryan Adams

starlite diner 2

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