Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am walking through Disneyland on a bright, summer day. The theme park is full, and I see long lines at almost all of the attractions. There are people lined up even to watch an animatronic Abraham Lincoln deliver a portion of the Gettysburg Address. I wander away from Main Street, USA, and find myself in Tomorrowland. Driven by nostalgia I walk over to where the Mission to Mars attraction had been when I was a child. In its place is a big, white, nondescript warehouse. There is nothing inviting about it at all – no sign out front, no Disney characters luring you inside, not even any windows. There is simply a doorway into a dark room. Curious, I step up to the doorway and poke inside. Hovering in the air at my sightline is a laser light sign that reads: Find Yourself.
As my eyes adjust to the darkness, I see that there is inside a zigzag line cordoned off by red rope that leads across a vast, empty, high walled, warehouse floor to an animatronic, movie theater, ticket booth boy. There are a few people spaced far apart from each other in this zigzag line. They are taking their time walking up this line to the ticket booth boy. I decide to join them, since at the very least it is a lot cooler in here. As I zigzag across the warehouse floor I see tall, framed paintings on both sides of various Disney characters. I sense that the Disney characters are following me with their endless gaze. They pose in a fun and frivolous way, but their eyes suggest the painting of a long dead geezer inside of a haunted house. A middle aged man in a grey suit walks up to me and starts to make conversation. Apparently, he did not get the memo that everyone in here is remaining far apart from each other. He tells me that he heard this attraction is like flying through the air in Top Gun. Maybe, this is an IMAX feature, or an updated version of Star Tours. I do not say much back to him, but we pass by the ticket booth boy like we are inside there together. I perceive that we are inside what looks like the carpeted lobby of a multiplex movie theater. There are animatronic boys selling popcorn and hotdogs. I see a real life, perky, teen girl waving me over with a magic wand. My new “friend” decides to join with the others at the food concession, while I walk up to the teenager. Without breaking her incessant smile, the girl directs me into a theater set aside just for me. I step inside what is no larger than a walk-in closet. There is just one seat facing a movie screen that is not much larger than a television set. The walls are dark, carpeted, and soundproof. I feel a little claustrophobic in here, but before I can turn around to leave the perky teen closes the door on me. I shrug my shoulders and take a seat. This is Disneyland, not a cell in an ISIS prison, and so I assure myself that nothing amiss is going to happen.
The theater lights dim, and I stare at the movie screen ahead of me. I expect to watch a conventional movie, and so I am surprised when suddenly a human face emerges out of the dark air and hovers before me. I see that it is my own face, and however way I move my face it moves to mirror me. I stop moving and stare into my illuminated reflection to find out what else may happen. As the illuminated face stays still, a third eye appears in its forehead, and the rest of the face collapses into this third eye like distant stars into a black hole. There is a strobe light in the center of this third eye. At first, I wince from the intense flashes of white light, but then, suddenly, I no longer even seem to notice it. It is all so very peaceful, as the strobe light gives way to a white haze that resembles mist in a greenhouse. The mist dissipates, and I slowly realize that I am not watching any movie at all. Rather, I am inside a movie. The world all around me is illuminated in sepia tone. I stand up and walk on what feels like sand. My eyes adjust to this new world, and I finally see that I am walking up and down sand dunes on a hill that slopes down to a seashore. The sand dunes have been artificially built up to hide trenches, and as I stare down into the trenches I see World War II era Japanese soldiers preparing for battle. I look out at the sea. There is a line of American battleships not too distant. I watch in increasing fear as waves of American fighter planes fly over the battleships and toward the island shore. I intuit that I am on Iwo Jima, and I look down and see that I too am dressed like one of the Japanese soldiers in the trenches below me. And yet, because everything including the sky is cast in a sepia tone, I could be on an alien landscape instead. Regardless, the attack is real, and I need to find cover. I sense that the elaborate trenches below me are death traps, and yet nothing above them appears to be any safer. Something tells me to run toward the seashore. The bombers will be targeting the trenches, and the enormous anti-aircraft guns further up the hill, not a solitary Japanese soldier running for the sea.
I am standing on the plush, pink carpet of a hotel lobby. The Art Deco walls are the same soft pink as the perfumed floor. There are pink calla lilies everywhere sprouting out from tall, pink vases that resemble upturned, plumed, swan necks. On the walls are paintings from famous historical scenes, including Cleopatra paraded in a cage through Rome and Hitler marching up the steps at Nuremberg. I walk from one framed painting to the next with my hands clasped behind my lower back like an art student in a museum. I stop at a painting of a Sixteenth Century, Spanish galleon ship being pulled over sand dunes by thousands of near naked Indians. I stare into the painting and soon find myself inside of that scene. I am a Conquistador Knight clad in armor standing on a hill overlooking this scene. Beside me to my left a flagman holds up the Colors of our King. Beside me to my right a Dominican holds up the Cross of Christ. The Cross is made of gold, and instead of the normal Christ figure there is a crucified skeleton with glowing red eyes. I fold my big arms over my chest and nod approvingly at the spectacle of thousands of tired Indians pulling a galleon ship by long ropes up from the seashore. Tonight, the Indians who are still alive will be hogtied to the mast of the ship, and then the ship will be set aflame. As the ship smolders into the sand, my men will know that there is no turning back from all the gold and glory that lies before us.
I am seated alone in a university lecture hall. The doors creak open, and a cacophonous swarm of middle aged men clutching textbooks and briefcases walks inside. One my one they walk up to me, and whisper good tidings, before continuing their conversations with one another and taking their seats. From each of them the message for me is the same: If I should run for Party Chairman next time, they will support me one-hundred percent. In my mind, I have decided that I am going to run. The question is when. Next time there is a vacancy, or sometime down the road? Success is all about the timing, and I have not figured out the timing yet. While all the others talk among themselves at their seats like boisterous frat boys, I get up from my seat, and walk over to the wall. There are framed, black and white pictures of prior classes going back more than a century. In each picture the Party Chairman sits on a throne in the center, front row, while all of the other young men stand beside or behind him clutching rolled parchment. I notice that in each of the pictures the Party Chairman has the same face. He always looks like a young, white, well maintained William F. Buckley on the cusp of writing about his experience at Yale. I stare into each of the pictures with the intent of transporting myself into the shot, but there is no such luck. I cannot seem to get myself into the mind and the body of the aristocratic Party Chairman. I turn back for my seat still undecided about when to make my move.