The Multi-Colored Womb

A Thousand Voices – Donald Saaf – 2011

Winter brings the return of the dream state, or maybe it’s too much or not enough or my broken-up sleep that explains the day to day watery-immersion of otherworldliness.

Last week, I dreamt of a womb-like container, belonging to another. She placed it on the shelf beside my single bed and then she turned to leave the dormitory-like space as it began to fill with others claiming beds and counters.

I never saw her face, but I continued to marvel at what she left behind–a multi-colored, beautifully-beaded container which served as a water bottle.

Each time I left my bed, however, I was consumed with frustration, because yet another new arrival made claims on the bed that was already mine.

One man, in fact, went so far as to lift my mattress off the frame and take it to the other side of the room–the men’s side, I suppose.

I crossed the space between us and protested. “This isn’t how it works,” I explained. “My things were already there.”

Apparently, the unspoken rules of the Kripalu assistant dormitory (of which I was readily practiced) didn’t apply here.

But where was here anyway? I looked around at rows and rows of beds that I hadn’t noticed before as the space approached full occupancy.

Were we some type of refugee?

I retrieved my mattress, but then wondered if perhaps others needed it more, and then I caught sight of the beautiful container again and smiled, making a mental note to find one for myself.

Days later, that beaded womb bled through my waking hours, speaking a language that I couldn’t quite understand.

Waking between the worlds like this, especially in the dark, wintry months, is welcome, even while it is disorienting (or perhaps because it is), leaving me bobbing in a soupy sea–reality flooded with dreams—where the constellation upon which I’ve relied no longer directs the course, forcing me to find new markers, inside and in other realms, obscured from reality’s view.

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Winds of Change

I wake in the dark to buckets of air thrown in my face and I cannot place myself…

Wait, Yes, I can. I am back home, my second night here after the trip south (3 states, 5 younger siblings, 4 different beds.)

Why is it that the return home rather than the journey itself always displaces me?
And who is throwing air in my face?
And if this is my familiar, why can’t I orient myself in this space?

Which way is my bed facing? This is a question that arises in the middle of the night after returning from any trip, and it doesn’t make any sense, because my bed has faced the same direction for some time now. East.

Lately I wonder if I have worked my brain, like my eyes and my heart and my knees and my hips, too long and too hard, and so, in stubborn refusal, it won’t produce the simple things like a well-known name or a common word or a knowing of where I am in my own space, and furthermore there are moments– waking moments–when not only the date but the day and even the season completely drop out from under me.

My oldest has been secretly worried about Alzheimer’s. He’s apparently checked the list of indicators and tells me that I am surprisingly in the clear, except for one:

Social isolation.

I remind him that I am introverted, and a writer and that isolation is necessary for my work.

“How will we ever know if you’ve lost your mind,” he once said, somewhat anxiously, in the face of something I said in all seriousness that sounded outlandish to him.

I imagine it is his own tendencies and preferences for thought over people that concern him and also the way his mind like mine opens into realms others deny.

“The loss of smell is the first sign,” a friend tells me. Her mother had the disease.

My sense of smell has always been pronounced, but I sniff upon waking today and wonder–Is it fading?

Should I turn the bed south again?

Lately, the orientation feels all wrong although east is the direction upon which we’ve long settled as it lends itself best to the utilization of space and to waking.

Maybe this disorientation is a sign that I’m ready to go. Move one. Begin Anew.

As an army brat, I’ve had detachment disorder to dwellings, even this one that has been around the longest–almost 15 years–unthinkable after a childhood of more than a half-dozen schools.

My boys have the opposite inclination, toward stability; they never want to let this place go. They don’t even like it when I change the furniture around in the room.

It may be that their leaving (my youngest goes to college next month) alongside my long-delayed letting go of parenting younger siblings is what has untethered me.

It may be that this home is the only place where I’ve ever felt at ease enough to truly let my mind go, at least in sleep, so much so that I delight in buckets of wind thrown in my face even if I don’t know where I am.