For the past week or so, Penny has been showing up in my dreams again.
I have said before that I had a true dream on the third day after she died, in two parts, the first where she agreed to go on, the second where we took our parting. I had a third part to that dream but it was a muddled, confused and horrible distortion that actually happened before, and was an echo of the way she parted from her cast-off shell. When I was younger and even more foolish, I had the bad judgement to attempt to learn to wander off from my body. This didn't happen, but in the process I did learn what it felt like and ... yeah. The third part.
I was ready, I thought, spiritually. Not really, but we never are. I knew that emotionally I was not ready for her to die. I knew that my day-to-day life would be destroyed, and it was.
So, for most of 2006 I endured the frantic search by my inside-mind to locate a reality where we could still be together. Every week or so, especially around the key dates, I would dream my way into something that was at once intensely real and intensely unreal, small slices of time and space and context which resembled the world we live in, but at the same time did not. We were looking for a place to live. Penny was sometimes as she had been the last four years, truly hobbled by a body that had become a prison. Sometimes she was as light and agile as she had been during the early days in college. Sometimes she was different, never injured. What I remembered, though, was the distress and pain she felt when the pain would break past my embedding in the illusion of the other world. I would remember, suddenly and horribly, "You died." And the worlds would fall away into darkness and I would wake up shouting and crying. These were really unpleasant.
The thing is, only a tiny handful were ugly places, only a tiny handful were extremely pleasant, but none of the ones I found in 2006 was a place I wanted to actually be in for any length of time. They were all degenerate timespace of one sort or another, some of them strange geometries, some of them made up of roadways and paths, some of them in cities or houses made of wood that had decayed, dried, worn by weather to a silky gray full of hot splinters, flimsy and ill-assembled but looking solid enough from a distance. In the way of dreamlands, some of them I had been to years ago, and some of them were new. I wondered if I was searching my dreamlands to try to find hers, the one we had both shared in 1981 to our great surprise.
My dreams have always come in two kinds. The first kind are the general nonsense dreams, stuff from the prior few days roiling around as they settle into memory-soup. The second kind are highly realistic, full-sensory, and very rich. Sometimes they're strongly precognitive, such as the one I recorded in my dream journal in high-school, where I was driving my motorcycle home from work (and in high-school, I thought motorcycles were stupid) and encountered a series of cold-air pockets going past the overpass near the Phoenix and Talent exits on I-5. That actually happened a year and a half later, as I was riding my motorcycle back from where I was working, at 1:00am.
The thing that still strikes me as most intensely sensual was the sense of movement and the sudden shock, one, pause, two-three shock pattern of cold air pockets amid the generally warmer air in that late August. Other times they're simply that intense, but do not actually happen.
Usually, I do not remember them (unless I am journaling them) until that shock of recognition, in the real world. Then, I examine them to see if it's "just" deja-vu, or if I can recall the dream with its different shadings and connotations. (They're never useful. In 1972-spring, in the frenzy of yearbook signings, Marie Wilson was interviewing people and recording their answers; in 1972-fall we were out of Medford's "Mid-High" and in the senior high, and three days before I went in to sign up for classes, I dreamed the Spanish class-room, finding a seat next to Marie (whose name I barely remembered, such a non-observant clueless teenage boy I was) who had dyed her hair blonde and was wearing a cute dress - and almost staggered four days later when I walked into class and she had bleached her brown hair blonde and was in that cute dress in the desk I had dreamed. On the other hand, the very realistic dream of being a vampire, and attacking one of the guys at school who had been an asshole at me weeks earlier, that one didn't happen. Fortunately.
So the last few weeks on and off, my sleep has been erratic again. Real World Work is urgent. We need to release this latest build of our software, and we have until the third week of next year. There is no assurance that I or the other two "contingency" workers in my group will be continued. We simply don't know yet. My manager is very much wanting to know by early next week, so we can make our plans, so I can either resume the job search, or extend further into the automation of my job so that it can be done more readily. We don't know yet, and this is bringing back the deep fear and insecurity on and off.
Wednesday, when I was expecting to go to the ordination of our recently hired assistant to the rector of our church, I was completely caught up by work, so I missed the chance to congratulate her and celebrate this great time. Thursday, the Christmas party of the doll club that Penny and I joined ... 20 years or so back ... was held in an apartment complex near here, and I didn't go because I was running tests. Tonight, I was setting up and running tests, and I now have 30 hours banked but not billed. This is a problem. If I don't have a contract next year, I'll run out of hours I can actually work and contribute during a time when the work is critical.
And I do not work free for any corporation which makes a profit.
So, the last few days I have been dreaming again. Mostly these are dreams built on memories, in settings too vague to be anything other than dreams, and they're reenactments of things we never did but might have done. Nothing special, nothing broken, a quiet realization that I was dreaming, shortly before I woke. Two were more intense, though: one where Penny and I were talking, but I don't recall about what right now; she was the "real" her that I remember from a few dreams - her body is not the same as she had, but her personality was even more so.
The second, we were in college, but older than when we actually were there. We weren't married but we were close friends, and she told me she had to stop school because they had found a tumor on her adrenal gland, but they were going to use targeted radiation to shrink it for a while.
I realized that this was another "other-world" where if I talked about her dying, it would freak her out, so I was supportive and confident, and didn't talk about the stuff that had happened to her-here, because I didn't want to mess up the dream. Then the stupid alarm chirped and pulled me out of it anyway (probably already had, but I refused to process hearing it until I got the story to a stopping point.)
It's 2am now, so I am going to try to sleep now. Maybe tomorrow it won't be snowy and I will go to Costco for meds and drop off recyclables, and figure out a Christmas list.
Note, I'm screening comments on this one.