Kage Baker has been flitting through my dreams of late.
By of late I mean the last week, when I have been sleeping in strange beds, in strange places. And by flitting, I mean I wake up knowing she was there, in my dreams – but I can’t recall much of the dreams themselves.
Tiny brightly coloured bits remain – my sleeping brain seems to be assembling mille fleur pieces, preparatory to setting them in a cool, solid globe. Somewhere along the production process, though, my mind loses control – all the wedges and petals and slices of coloured glass go flying up like Alice’s playing cards, and settle down into a polychrome delirium instead of the prim tableau originally intended. What was conceived as a nice study of the Tuilleries comes out as a Dali-esque landscape, festooned with boneless cats and melting clocks.
Ordinarily, I remember my dreams. I count on it, in fact, since a part of my mind also apparently keeps on writing while I’m asleep. On especially fortunate mornings, all I have to do to start writing is sit down and transcribe whatever storyline evolved in my sleep. But this week, only fragments have been remaining – those eddies of glass shards, inarguably brightly coloured but basically nonsensical.
I have, for instance, the clearest image of Kage – in an ancient, red-sleeved baseball jersey she wore to death somewhere around her 14th year – seated on a gold granite boulder on the edge of Highway 1 in Big Sur, watching fancy cars race by. It’s very precise and is utterly without provenance or explanation. What I would like, of course, is to sit there and have a chat with her; ask her how she’s doing, is she happy, what do I do with the corner into which I have written the heroine of “The Fog King” … maybe she knows where I packed the portable DVD player when I cleaned out her desk.
Maybe she can tell me how much longer I have to hang about here. Should I start that two-volume novel Linn wants me to try? She has this theory that two-volume stories sell more easily than singletons or trilogies. Of course, after agenting Kage through her 8-volume Company series, Linn may be just a little gun-shy …
Anyway, Kage is not deigning to bestow Wisdom from Beyond on me. I just remember her presence quite clearly each morning, surrounded by beautifully coloured pieces of craziness.
As is my wont when I spend enough time away from my own bed, I’ve been waking up not knowing where I am. I open my eyes and am in complete confusion as to my location; my head is facing the wrong direction, and all the doors and windows have moved around while I slept. This very morning as was, for instance, I was quite convinced (in that interminable time between one’s brain booting up and one’s eyes opening) that I was in the bedroom I shared with Kimberly when we were 7 and 8 – the specific wallpaper, with its ribboned bouquets of roses and hydrangea; the specific shadow of the bathroom door. The specific frame of the upper bunk bed in which I slept then, which unfortunately was not where I was sleeping now: so that when I slid my 8-year-old legs over the edge of the 5-foot drop, I crunched both my 59-year-old feet into the floor 18 inches below me …
And sat there stunned a few moments on the rug, staring out at the redwood beyond the window. And at the image of Kage, 14 years old and timing Lamborghinis as they rushed by.
It makes for weird wakings.
Maybe it’s just being a thousand miles from home. Or a surfeit of Earl Grey lattes before bedtime. Or maybe the endless woods that begin 20 feet beyond Linn’s patio railing are somehow drinking in and scrambling my dreams. Everything is being absorbed, altered and reflected by parabolic redwoods and poplars and broad-leafed maples. By the time the trees toss back the glass globes of my dreams, they’ve lost a firm hold on them – the dreams fall and break on the floor on my mind, into the drifts and dunes of coloured glass that wake me.
I don’t mind too much. A glimpse of Kage is always comforting. And the sports cars weren’t too bad either.