For a long time, I thought Fritz Perls had the best way to look at dreams. Everything in the dream is you. I used to write whatever I could remember of my dreams down, then play the different parts. If I dreamed of a woman walking up a flight of stairs, I'd be the woman, then I'd be the stairs. This one came at the end of a marriage.
It's 4:00 A.M. and I'm sitting in a hotel room with a friend and his wife. She has lifeless eyes. The number on the room key is 434. I could never love you, I tell my friend's wife. It's the eyes, she says. I leave the hotel, end up walking down the street in Georgetown. I pass a corner grocery, look in the window, see four cops inside. I open the door. A cop looks past me at something across the street. There's a wino over there, drinking from a bottle inside a brown paper bag. Cop says: What's that say? The wino slips the bag down the bottle and I read: "Mateus Rosé." Cop says: We better get some people on the street. I see I'm standing next to a cart of groceries. I can't find my wallet. A blond woman says: See that wall? Guy in cowboy boots kicked it in when I asked him for money. Are we going to do that, Mr. Glad? I say no. She says: Do we have an appointment at 12:15, Mr. Glad? Her name tag says Rosa. When I get home, my wife is pissed off. I say something. She says: Does your friend count? Has he been coming on to you? I ask. I've been giving him an opportunity to, she says. He's been carrying me around on his back on a ladder, and I've been sliding up and down on it. It turns him on.
I never lose in my dreams. I can be running in mud or water up to my knees, get lost, get tied up, try to wake up and can't, but I never wake up until I win.
I'm running down an alley, something is chasing me. It's a couple of ugly guys, driving a big combine. The blades are right behind me. I'm running out of breath. All of a sudden, I dance up the blades like Gene Kelly, doing a little dance on every blade. I grab the guys and toss them into the blades. Blood and gore hit me in the face and I wake up.
Now that's a good dream, if you don't analyze it too much. I like the feeling of that gore hitting me in the face. I like being me and the combine and the blades, even the alley. But the two guys? Not so much. I had that dream in the middle of a negotiation to settle a contract dispute. It cost the other side an extra million bucks.
I'm carrying my own body around, eating on it. Across streams. Under bridges. There's a castle full of women, eating carry-out orders from a restaurant. I lose my body; find a stray dog in the basement.
I awoke from that dream feeling too disturbed and elemental to understand the simplest rules of human behavior. I wrote: Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.
Nowadays, I think most dreams are so straightforward they don't need free association to make sense. Suppose you're making love to a woman. You reach down and feel teeth inside her vagina. That's the old vagina dentata. The vagina with teeth. I've had that dream a time or two. It's a good dream if you like to wake up scared.
My father died in the winter. He was in a hospice in Mississippi, where he had a warm room with big windows and four women to change his pajamas and his sheets every night, laughing and singing while they put the old man to bed.
When he lapsed into a coma, I drove over from Houston, and he was still alive, but breathing in a labored way that lifted his shoulders off the bed with every wheezing breath. I sat with him for nine or ten hours, talking to him and wetting his lips with a piece of gauze, soaked in cold water.
I was holding his hand when he suddenly opened his eyes and squeezed my hand, and I said hey, he's awake, then no, he's gone as he died. And I felt that something had just left that body. Took one last look and moved on, leaving me next in line.
For an entire year after that, I had a recurring dream.
I'm being roasted slowly, like a pig in a pit. It hurts. I can feel the intense heat from the coals, charring my skin.
It took a year for the fire to burn my skin away and prepare me to carry on in my father's place.
I had another recurring dream that lasted a couple of months. It was the kind of dream you can wake up from, go back to sleep and pick up where you left off.
I'm a prince in exile on another planet or in another dimension. There's not a vestige of the modern world. Everything is medieval, 10th Century maybe. We fight with swords and bows and arrows -- with axes. I have a wife and a couple of kids, and a band of loyal followers.
Sometimes I feel like I fell to earth.
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