Thursday, April 26th, 2007 http://adamkhan.net/rambles/mind-the-dream
f all goes well I should be seeing The Jam soon and bringing her here to Britain. From Davide’s email:
[His dog] Bianca and [my dog] Jam have this friendly rivalry which is really funny, they chase each other and generally are jealous of my attention. The Jam is nice and slim and she is really loved here. They call her ‘gemma’ which means gem. Her friends are Rudy who lives here too and Tobias, the dog next door which is Bianca’s boyfriend. Cortona has more yanks and brits than italians, shame we have a bus at six so not much chance to wine and dine the girls.
These last few months were an opportunity, being without a dog for the first time in a decade, to take advantage and travel, but we’ve been pretty hunkered down.
Last night I dreamed of Maddie and Jam with me while I was in Baghdad with a friend exploring. It was a bit bombed out and felt dangerous but I was pleased to be there taking in the mood. I boarded a taxi but after a block managed to explain to the driver that I had to get out. Maddie and Jam had run alongside the cab on the pavement and were waiting for me there.
There is, obviously, a strong connection between our knowledge in our dreams and our knowledge when awake. To enable us to dream about our passed companions as if they are alive requires tricks to the dreaming mind to overcome what it believes to be true. Past tricks in my dreams to enable me to dream of Maddie have been that it’s actually Jam, not Maddie, who’s no longer with us, and so this stays true to the knowledge that there’s been a loss, and yet it lets me bask in Maddie’s presence. In this Baghdad dream a potion can be poured on things that brings them back to life—and I believed. I knew that in the past Maddie had died and so now that she was alive again I was to appreciate it. These are the complicated tales we spin every night about our past and present loves, places, obsessions. And not only humans do it—all mammals do it.
The number of dreams we have of past ones must pale in comparison to the number we have about our current companions. All those years that I had both Maddie and Jam: it was absolutely central to my identity, to my concept of myself, that I had two dogs with whom I went places. And so every night they were in my dreams one way or another, and if they weren’t with me, then as a dog owner I had to have an explanation, a rationale in my dream, for where they were. Of course, I suppose you can often just forget them, be in a setting or a period in life where you simply haven’t met these companions, but if something does remind you of them, an explanation must be drummed up quick, and it’s got to reassure and seem true within the looser ways of dream logic just as it does when waking. Dreams is like living twice, as the great movie song goes.
I say to myself as I stand up out of the chair to go upstairs (sudden shifts in position seem to hark me back to her) that Maddie’s gone and she’s not coming back. It’s strange that I put it that way, because death is less being gone than having disintegrated. Is being gone a metaphor or merely a euphemism? It seems to be both. It’s a metaphor in that it seems more real and appropriate to the situation to think of her bobbing away at sea, always getting further away from me here safely on land, as this distance seems to best represents the feeling that each day I am further and further away from her timewise (perhaps this is a bit of a universal metaphor, which explains the power of the scene on the raft when parting from Wilson in Bob Zemeckis’ Castaway). And yet it was I who buried her, so I know exactly where her remains lie, though I don’t really think of that place so much. To be sure, it’s some consolation knowing there’s a place where they lie—it’s easy to feel the importance to us of placing our dead somewhere—but it’s generally not where my mind goes when I think of her, not at the moment anyway. Maybe that’s her particular situation: she’s not buried where she spent her life.
As I walk around town here I think about how nice it will be doing it with the Jam. I don’t really imagine how it would be with Maddie, who seems more an attitude, a poise within than a walking companion here without. When I do think about her here, it seems a perfect match, the Victorian buildings giving stolidity and shape to the vivaciousness and color. Jam meanwhile will enjoy chasing seagulls and being reunited with me (I choose my order with care).
How does the passage of time make it easier? I suppose it’s the adaptation to a new situation, the reshaping of your thoughts and habits. When you do remember, or when your mind glances back with a shard of memory to a particular place, as mine just has—the little fountain in front of the big theatre on Shderot Yerushalayim in Jaffa, Maddie and I on our way home on Raziel St from a long walk in south Tel Aviv—then the loss returns, and even as you don’t feel it as acutely as you might have once, you know that you should, and that deadening of the affects also hurts, though in a more abstracted way. In other words, you don’t just live twice, you lose twice.