For This, I Thank the Dead

...so it seems my dead grandfather would rather haunt my little sister's closet rather than join the parade of ghosts that mardi gras into my dreams at least once a month...my sister says that Grampa waits until her house is completely quiet, then he rattles things in her closet--which is where she's keeping his ashes until we can get together this summer to scatter them at capulin volcano..."my house is dark," she says, "everyone's asleep, and then i hear this jingling in my closet, like he's moving things around in there"

"have you tried putting him in a drawer? maybe with your bras?" i say

"ha-fucking-ha" she says

...so for now, Grampa is kickin' it in the closet with all of my sister's hooker heels and slutty dresses...

...which is why he missed out on the massive ghost dream from last night...

...i've had dreams about the dead for years...since before i could remember...the first time i saw a picture of my great-grandfather, william strickland, i knew who he was immediately...he'd come to me in a dream and taught me how to sharpen an ax...my great-aunt billie mae had visited me right after i first tried to kill myself--at age 11--telling me that unruly, curly hair wasn't a reason to slit my wrists...

...last night adam and i traveled back to quartz hill california, to the house my grandmother owned on tiffany street...as we approached the subdivision--which was, except for her house, demolished and turned into under-construction, high-rise condos--i told him, "this is where grandma moved to save my life"...we went into the house, only to find the front room redecorated to resemble a radio shack/pharmacy...a woman was sitting on the stairs dispensing instructions to another woman about how to take anti-histamines...Grandma was sitting in a mauve recliner, complaining that she couldn't see or hear the television because of the blabbing...she was watching an episode of star trek, where kirk and spock had just discovered the delta quadrant and traveled to the year 3400...Grandma was pissed she was going to miss the end of the show...

...adam and i moved her recliner closer to the tube...i kissed her and promised we'd be back soon, and left the house...on our way to visit a graveyard where my senior year boyfriend, gonzo, was buried, we stopped by my high school--also under construction--to take pictures..."i'll need these for the memoir" i told adam, pausing in front of the gym and at the small tree my senior class had planted in memory of a classmate who'd died a week before graduation...strangely, the school was hosting a conference for teen mothers...

...an overwhelming sense of urgency and lost time caused me to feel rushed through the entire dream, so we were on our way to the cemetery again...i often dream of visiting that cemetery...it's flanked on all four sides by twenty-foot hedges, an iron gate prohibits entry...sometimes i'm alone, it's night, i sneak in...other times it's day, the gate is open, and i can't find the headstone i'm looking for...

...i rode behind adam on his motorcycle (which, in life, he doesn't own), and we sped along a snaking desert road that hugged the foothills...it overlooked the rest of the antelope valley...i could see the green oasis that was the graveyard, but it disappeared as we came down from the hills...we ended up in a mercado, winding our way through aisles of mexican canned goods, until we found a broken, dirty door and finally made our way outside...only to be met by a high school pal, micah, who died four years ago in an avalanche in china...he was wearing suspenders and wanted to know if i wanted to wear a pair too...i turned to find adam, who i thought was walking behind me, and when i did i spotted my high school english teacher, james dupratt, coming out of a magazine shop carrying a copy of US News...i ran to him, knowing he'd been dead for over a decade, and gave him a huge hug...i wanted to tell him for so long that i was sorry for missing his funeral, but he didn't allow me to talk...he turned to an article in the magazine and told me to read it...adam was suddenly by my side again and i turned to him and said, "see, isn't he just like mark twain?" dupratt never looked like twain...i'm still trying to figure out why i said that...

... we hopped on the motorcycle, kicking up dust in our wake, and passed an ancient cemetery of criminal and children's graves...most of the monuments were huge crosses made of cement...they were all crumbling...and as the sun set behind the foothills, the whole scene became a series of oranges and reds...

...then came the flash flood and we sought shelter under the tin roof of an outdoor flea market...i sat on a bench, convinced we'd never get to the cemetery before it closed...i'd, yet again, missed seeing gonzo's grave and placing flowers there...i'd missed telling him goodbye...

...i closed my eyes and was met by a series of memories: gonzo hugging me and laughing...him grasping a set of ropes and pulleys while i climbed the side of the mountain...holding his hand while we walked the railroad tracks...i opened my eyes and began to laugh...

..adam said, "what's wrong now?"

...all i could do was laugh...my heart was so full, i couldn't hold it in...

...i woke today with that feeling of overwhelming love...i want to hold on to it for as long as i can...for this, i thank the dead--who are always with me, who remind me of the love i have for the living...

Comments

  1. As soon as I started reading this I was planning to comment about how the only dead person I have ever dreamed about was Kathryn. And then I kept reading..and you did, too. :) xoxoxoxo

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