A few nights ago I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details.
There is a university on the side of a tall, steep, grassy mountain. The campus consists of a collection of Bauhaus buildings connected by well-swept, dirt paths. The grass is dark, and dances gently in the billowy, frostbitten winds that meander up from an endless sea of cloud covered valleys. Above the cloud line in every direction are mountains similar in beauty and reach to this one. The blue sky hovers over the mountaintops like a silk bridal veil. The sky is as much the sun’s domain as his captor, for the sun reigns alone up there, but is also diffused through this veil into a force more poetic than prose, more a creature of an illusionist’s dream than a god in the heavens. As a result, the sun is bright, but feels more like the soft, dappled light of daydreams. By contrast, the mountains stand tall and firm with the posture of gods.
The university campus is more populated than usual. Parents clustered around preening student tour guides suggest that this is an Open House. I am neither a student, nor one of the parents, and yet I stroll the steep paths interconnecting the Bauhaus classrooms and dorms like someone who belongs there. Near the top of the campus is a pedestrian mall located inside of a towering, long greenhouse that is as big as an airline hangar. The mall is completely open on the bottom and top ends, so that wind sweeps up the side of the mountain and through the greenhouse. Mist swirls up near the rafters, and the white sunlight that bleeds through the ceiling dances with the water droplets. The pedestrian mall consists of university shops, bars, and restaurants broken up by patches of marble floors and grassy hills. The grass grows through snakelike cracks in the marble, here and there, like what had happened to the ancient Acropolis when left untended for centuries. While the structure itself suggests the creeping slow passage of endless times, the buzz of enthusiastic students and parents meandering about the mall suggest the burgeoning and wild-eyed life of the young. Seated beneath an umbrella on the marble floor of one of the outdoor cafes is the same Swedish entertainer from the Later Tonight Dream. She is as softened by a mature, regal beauty and bearing as before. The only difference from what I recall is that she is more at ease, more casually happy and contented, like she is not hiding from anyone anymore and could care less if she is noticed. She is seated and in pleasant conversation with her bandmates, but like before I only have eyes for her. As I approach through a mass of students, I make a point of zeroing in on her like that alone will be enough to catch her eye. She glances at me, maintaining the same smile she had had for her bandmates, but perhaps nodding ever so slightly for me. I notice when she is turning her face back toward her bandmates her smile seems a bit more frozen than just before she locked eyes on me. Did I make her uncomfortable? Or is she harboring in her heart a deep, private desire? Or am I imagining her subtle response as a projection of my wish fulfillment? Maybe nothing transpired between us. Before I can determine one way or another in my own mind, I leave the scene. I am becoming a bit less comfortable with myself for every second longer that I stare at her. Everything about what may or may not have happened, and my internal dialogue in response, seems tawdry now.
I am standing on a steep patch of grass away from the pedestrian mall. There is a small group of male students about to participate in a footrace. They each don numbered bibs, athletic tops and shorts, and running shoes. They are talking to one another in the casual manner of fraternal brothers united by their elites status on campus. They appear totally unfazed by the fact that they are about to compete in a race to the top. Maybe that is for the reason that, for all intents and purposes, they are already on the top. Which one may get up there first this afternoon is immaterial. Their parents and girlfriends are grouped together as a cheering section. I am not dressed for a footrace, but I position myself by the rear so that I may follow them up the narrow and windy path ahead of them. As soon as the young men line up at the start, someone fires a pistol, and they start up the path with unbridled energy and joy. They kick back dirt with their incredibly white shoes. The dirt swirls like little tornadoes behind them, but never falls back upon their white shorts and tops. Indeed, the runners seem altogether impervious to the wind, the dirt, and the clouds of mist up into which they are running, and from what I can see not one of those nubile, clean shaven boys ever breaks a sweat. I follow the footrace to the sun-washed crest above the clouds of mist. I lose them all as they make a hard turn into the sunlight.
I am seated where the Swedish entertainer and her bandmates had been earlier. They are gone. Instead, the outdoor cafe is occupied with the runners and their parents and girlfriends. The runners seem more dejected now than when I had watched them prior to the race. Off to the side is a counter with bowls of sweets. A coach walks up to us all from behind the counter. He is a rotund, rosy cheeked man who looks like Alex Jones in the middle of a weeklong bender. He is grasping a clipboard with sweaty, small hands like it is necessary to keep his balance. The fire in his eyes tells us all that he is peeved. He lectures us on our lack of discipline especially with respect to our overindulgence of sweets. Every time he singles out one of the runners he pushes a bowl of sweets further out of reach as if to say, “No more for you!” He finally turns to me, shrugs, and waves his hand as if to say that I am on the fence.