Kage Baker believed firmly in her dreams. She had good reason – they often came true. Of course, a large part of that was that she forced them to come true. She pursued them, fed them, researched them, and did everything in her power to bring about the condition of which she had dreamed. And she often succeeded.
One night she dreamed of a goddess holding a child in Her arms; the child was a little boy, whose feet were burned. The goddess told her the child needed a salve of elderberries for the burn, and that they grew on Catalina Island.
Kage woke determined to get there. Despite being native Angelinos, neither of us had ever been to Catalina. On clear days in the Hollywood Hills, it was a vague blue blur on the horizon (on un-clear days, that blue blur was the Pacific Design Center) – we knew it was 26 miles across the sea, and that was about it. And this was waaaay pre-Internet. But there were phones and library books and bus schedules and even ads in the LA Times: it didn’t take long for even such a feckless pair as we were to find the route.
And we went to Avalon, where many mysteries were revealed and adventures were had over the next 20 years. We did gather elderberry blossoms (on an Easter morning, from a grove at the foot of William Wrigley’s mausoleum, while ravens watched us and two baby foxes frolicked in the grass … no lie, that was what happened.) And Kage made a salve and kept it in a glass jar for the rest of her life, in case a burned baby god showed up.
What did happen was that several story ideas lodged in her head like elf shot during that first trip, story ideas that formed one of the several major plot lines of her Company series. It probably happened our first night on the Island, when we couldn’t find a hotel room, and the cops wouldn’t let us sleep in the jail (I asked; very politely too) and we ended up sleeping on the ground in a drift of eucalyptus leaves in the ruins of the Saint Catharine Hotel …
The incident of the dream is nowhere in the books. The actual consequences of the dream helped form them all. Kage was very serious about dreams.
I’m not sleeping much right now, myself. I can’t. I stay up writing and watching movies until I have to sleep or die – then I crawl into bed; it’s the only way to get my eyes to close. And when I sleep, I dream of last year. Oddly enough, I somehow manage to do this without ever getting a glimpse of Kage – man, she could haunt me and I would rejoice, but no – she’s off somewhere researching something, I bet. But I dream, as I did last year, about what we need to do, about her drug and therapies schedules, about whether we are out of soda water or chocolate syrup (egg creams were big last year). And I wake up exhausted.
This time last year – Kage simply could not manage the stairs anymore. I couldn’t find anyone to help transport her, and she had to go to therapy daily. I finally screamed for help, and all my dear friends answered at once – with food baskets (thank you, Kelly and Shannon and Giova and Neassa and Steve and Carol and Carol ….), with comforts, even with money. Steve and Carol Skold (who are saints) sent me the cash to take a room down by the seashore in a hotel on the flats – where a lady in a wheelchair could actually get to and from a car and the doctors’ offices. Neassa, on orders from her mother and my sister Kimberly, made me finally buy a microwave to I could heat food.
Kage and I were set up for the end game. We knew it, too, but thanks to all our beloved friends, we were able to make this try, at least. Kage was more comfortable, she was getting the treatment she needed, and we could hear the sea all day and night. On a day by day basis, it was pretty good.
I read to her when she was awake – her own They Might Be Gods, which had just come out. We finished the P.G. Wodehouse. I read an ancient children’s book named Coppertop to her, which she had loved since childhood and which had informed all her dreams of exotic lands and strange travels … a fan sent her a copy (Blessings on you!) and it made Kage so very happy.
That’s what I dream about – our weird little interim household there in the hotel room, with the winter rains beating on the walls. We were warm and safe. Kage was patient and hopeful. It really was not so bad, the week or so we spent there … the last in a long life of weird stopping places, but one of the nicer ones, at least.
It’s not so bad, dreaming about it.