One of only four times in which I use a dream or daydream device in Boy @ The Window, this one from January ’84:
It must’ve been everyone I’d come to know. About twenty-five or thirty of them in all. Led by Wendy, JD, Alex and Andrew, they all were marching down East Lincoln near where I lived, sticks and stones in hand. More like bricks and baseball bats and chains as they got closer. They were all dressed in Sergio Valente and Jordache, Benetton and OshKosh, Levi’s and Gap attire. They were all after me, my kufi, my life, my eternal soul. They weren’t running after me. They were marching in formation, like Soviet troops in Red Square, only with ridiculous smiles of mayhem giving away their intentions. I felt scared. But I had resigned myself to my fate. If I was goin’ down, gosh darn it, I was gonna put up a fight and take some of them with me!
I knew that dreaming about your classmates in any other way than out of adoration or infatuation wasn’t healthy. They served as a metaphor. They were an obstacle between me and my inner peace, a constant reminder that the odds were against me escaping 616 and Mount Vernon for the brighter pastures of a life and education elsewhere. They were symbols all right, symbols for everything from abuse and fear of abuse to undying and unrequited love. I woke up, sweating and with a panicked heartbeat from the nightmare. I looked at all of my body parts to make sure that I still had them in place before getting out of bed.
Later that snow-melt Saturday in early ’84, Mom sent me to the Fleetwood Station post office in the northwest corner of Mount Vernon to pick up a certified package. She had a PO box there, set up originally to protect sensitive documents from thieves in the building. I assumed that she was using it now to keep Maurice from getting his hands on any checks or other sensitive information. This was yet another task that I’d become the go-to-child for. I got dressed in my hand-me down winter coat and blue sweats and began the slushy trek to Fleetwood.
Then déjà vu struck. I found myself standing at the northeast corner of Lorraine and East Lincoln, unusually quiet because of the snow and the cold front that came with it the night before. This was where the metaphorical forces of destruction had lined up and marched against me. I laughed out loud, hoping at the same time that no one saw me. I looked down at the curb and sidewalk as the slush-ice was turning into mini-glacial streams and rivers, all blending as they ran toward a storm drain. In a semi-frozen pack nearby lay ten dollars. It had been trapped by the icy H2O. “My luck is getting better every day,” I said to myself. This happened to me, someone who never found more than a penny at a time on the streets and sidewalks of Mount Vernon. Despite all my worries and nightmares and other self-inflicted thoughts, things, at least at school, felt like they were getting better.
I suppose that if Game of Thrones [Ramin Djawadi – Main Title (Game of Thrones)] was on HBO in ’84 (and if we had cable back then) that I could’ve thought, “Winter is coming! OMG, Winter is coming!” I’m a fan of winter (to a point), though, because there’s the promise of renewal, the possibility that struggle can lead to reinvention, even redemption. And for me thirty years ago, that’s exactly how I saw January ’84. I was looking for a fresh start, a new beginning, within myself, if not necessarily from others. But being fourteen, I could only be that wise for so long when I controlled so little of what was going on in my life, even with the best of icy dreams.