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It is a universal truth that other people’s dreams are seldom interesting and make terrible tell-aloud stories, yet here I sit, about to regale you, because believe it or not, I’ve just had my first ever good dream.
Since I first appeared as a plumpish, pumpkin-topped urchin here on earth, I cannot remember having any other ‘good’ dream. Every morn I recall plenty of nightly visions, yet these are always bizarre vignettes revealing mostly pain, frustration, and inane misfortune.
Take the night I dreamt every person was assigned a five word ‘descriptor’ phrase to be listed beneath their legal name – a preselected tag line for social media forays. Mine read: Designed to Repeatedly Offend You. Damon, of course, fared slightly better: Excessive Cheerfulness on Perpetual Display.
Decade after decade I have dreamt of having my fingers bit or sliced off; I’ve been shot in the chest; I’ve discovered on more than one occasion that I have a ‘dirty soul’; I’ve suffered, drastically and often, from ‘Inward Panic Syndrome’; I’ve cleaned up vomit infinitum; given birth to an albino-midget of indeterminate sex named Willie Joe; and come to regard the presence of whales as portents of disaster, same as my sister does.
Yet – for all of this, I can’t recall even one pleasant dream I’ve experienced over the past 48 years. Until this year. Now that it’s finally happened, I want to put it to paper so that my offspring might know – happiness did greet old, cranky Kristine, one memorable, magical eve, long, long ago. *********************************************************************
Upon waking from this miraculous event, I lay in bed, too overcome to speak or move. After a long time clutching the dream close, reliving each second, cementing every frame to memory, I sat up, turned to Damon, and asked, “Can you ever remember me having a good dream?”
Over top of his steaming coffee he peered at me freakishly, even as he gave it some concentrated thought. At last he said, “No, I don’t think so.”
I nodded. “So, I’ve never, ever woken you up one time since we’ve been together and said, ‘Listen to this, my love…I’ve just had the most amazing time without you but please let me tell you all about it!’”
He laughed. “No. Definitely not. All of your dreams seem sort of awful, don’t they?”
“No!” I screamed, truly elated now. “Not anymore! I’ve just had a good dream! A very good dream! My first one ever!”
Damon stared at me as if I were nuts.
“This dream wasn’t just good. It was great! It was…dare I say it out loud? It might have been utterly perfect!”
Damon laughed a bit, then slurped his morning manna. “OK, ok, tell it to me, already!” He sounded a bit more blasé then I wanted him to be.
“Well, I was on some sort of field trip,” I began, while he peered at me with determined, morning-ish stoicism.
“And there were other teachers there, too. We had all these kids, and we were in some sort of big auditorium, which was prettier than normal, with nicely paned, sunshiny windows. The kids were sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor, happily talking, and I had no idea why we were there or what the field trip was about, but all the other teachers were young and pretty, and we all wore floral, kaftan-like dresses, and it seemed a nicer-than-usual way to spend a workday, so I sat there feeling just fine.”
“Uh-hmm…” Damon made little obligatory sounds while nodding encouragingly.
“Then, this rather petite but strong-looking man walked in and made his way towards the front, to the podium. And here my heart started beating so crazily,” I paused now and grabbed Damon’s hand away from the coffee cup to thrust it over my heart. “See…even now my heart’s jumping madly merely telling you about it!”
Damon looked at me as if I had lost all my marbles, then removed his hand before trying to mop up coffee splatters all over the covers.
“That’s when I realized,” I gushed, “that it was Mikhail Baryshnikov!”
I paused for Damon to hoot or holler or go all bug-eyed, but he did none of those things, so I continued right along. “Yeah, standing up there, in front of all the kids… it was him, the actual dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov! He still looked 40 years old or abouts, you know, just the way he looked in ‘White Nights’. He stood there smiling with his famous feet pointed out in first position and absolutely perfect posture, and all that time I could FEEL his blue eyes sparkling at me from way back there behind all those kids and oh.my. god. I was over the moon. Mikhail Baryshnikov was our field trip!!!”
Damon laughed here and seemed a bit more appreciative, now that the dream was ramping up.
“I began looking around the room to see if the other teachers were freaking out like I was, and I realized, oh my word, none of these young teachers knew who he was! They were shrugging and whispering, giving little perplexed twists of their mouths, while the kids kept asking, ‘Who is that?’ I was so sad and embarrassed. Mikhail Baryshnikov was standing right there, and no one seemed to recognize him, with all his talent and mastery, that sexiness just sizzling from his eyes….”
Damon looked at me sort of startled, like just saying the word sexy about someone else was a sin or something.
“Anyways… I had the worst feeling. I was standing there not knowing what to do, trying to shush all those kids. Then, Mr. Baryshnikov began to speak, and I didn’t even grasp what he was saying, because my mind was just a blur. I was watching him intently while he stood there so poised and articulate and hell yeah, sexy. So finally he asked for questions and oh my god, NO ONE in the auditorium raised their hand to ask even one question…of Mikhail Baryshnikov!”
Damon now twisted his face back into polite concern but said nothing yet again.
“Knowing how deeply humbling and upsetting this must be to Mikhail, I raised my hand. And here was where the dream really started to be incredible…because he called on me, so I began to talk, but I was dynamite! I mean, I started off by telling him how much I admired him. Then I launched into how as a little girl I remembered being called out to the TV on a Saturday night, after my bath, when I was all clean and in my nightgown, and my mother telling me to sit down on the carpet, I was about to see something I’d never seen before. That this Something I was about to see was so beautiful and unimaginable that it would reignite my passion for what was possible for all mankind when people were allowed to express themselves through art.
And then, there on the tv, the ballet started, and it was my first ever time watching a ballet, and at last…there he was! In hushed tones my mother explained that the star jumping effortlessly towards the heavens – l’etoile – was Russian, a young dancer who had just defected, risking his very life for his art. Then, as we watched him leap and twirl, stretching those tights in ways I never imagined possible, I glanced over at my mom, awestruck to see silent tears performing their own adagio gracefully down her cheeks, so overcome was she by the beauty of Baryshnikov and the ballet.”
Damon nodded crazily, not too sure whether I was speaking in the past or present now.
“Then I told Mikhail how after the ballet my mother explained about Russia – the country, and communism, and what it meant to defect, and I, being only six years old, had never heard those terms or even realized there could be another country besides the USA. Mikhail’s dancing and presence opened my eyes not just to a whole new art form, but to a whole new world, one so much more complex and dangerous, mystifying and enchanting, than I had known about even an hour before….”
Here I looked intensely at Damon, to see if he was tearing up, as I was, by this emotional retelling…but, alas, he seemed quite steady and almost worried -looking, peering at me like that. “Wow,” he muttered, seeing my actual tears. “wow!”
“Yes, wow! And the whole time I was talking, I was calm and poised, and my voice sounded great – not nervous at all, and everything I said sounded poetic and worthy of his hearing! Best of all, Mikhail seemed genuinely touched by my reflections. At the end he wrapped it all up by saying something else, but I couldn’t even breathe by that time, all I could do was stare at his blue, Russian eyes. Then the event was over and hordes of kids rose up to shuffle back towards the busses, but I ignored them all and went right up to him, standing there in front of the windows all alone – no crowds of people, no celebrity handlers, nothing! I went up to him and he smiled at me and we were the same height, literally, eye to eye. I told him again how amazing it was to meet him and he thanked me for my words earlier and then he leaned in towards me and said, “Please, do call me Misha. Would you like to go for a drink with me?”
Here I looked to see Damon’s reaction but he was completely poker-faced. Or comatose. “Then I woke up!“ I declared dramatically.
“Is that it?” Damon asked cautiously.
“That’s all I need!” I exclaimed proudly. “That was worth the wait! Misha himself clutching my hand and asking me out…” Exhausted from the retelling, I sat back in bed, overcome again by the exquisiteness of the whole sequence.
“I can live the rest of my life happy now, knowing I was asked out by MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV!!!” I shouted, within the hushed house before my impervious spouse.
Damon rolled his eyes and rose from the bed, eager to start the day, while I sighed contentedly, clinging to the night.