It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day and last night I had a dream. Okay, my dream wasn’t in the same league as his. In my dream I had a single-storey house in Manhattan at 77th Street. It was huge – dramatic living room, outrageous bedroom, a kitchen from Iron Chef. There were great expanses of glass that looked out sidewalk level at crowded shops, a movie theater, thousands of pedestrians.
And what made the dream so remarkable was nothing went wrong. My Manhattan dreams usually have me trying to remember where my ninetieth-floor apartment is, getting stuck in elevators, getting lost in underground passageways. But not this time. Just a stunning house my imagination thought up to entertain me.
I have vivid huge house dreams every month or so. They usually end with me going into the basement to discover that the foundation’s cracked and it’s been flooded with water. Or the house is built on the bank of a raging river about to flood. You get the idea – evil, mysterious, all-powerful water is going to take my beautiful home.
But not this time. No water at all. Just a really cool house and I’m enjoying watching people pass by when…
“Good morning.” Delphine runs her hand along my arm.
Her touch is always welcome, but I wonder if something’s wrong. More touch. I ask, “What’s up?”
“Oh nothing. I’m about to head out and thought I’d say good bye.” Delphine is a licensed nurse’s assistant and cares for about a dozen home-bound patients who need everything from being hoisted out of bed into a wheelchair with a Hoyer lift to bathing, running errands, or just a word of encouragement. We kiss and she leaves.
My mind is still back in Manhattan. Glasses off, I reach into the blur in my underwear drawer and flop a tee-shirt on the bed to find the end I’m supposed to stick my head in. There it is.
As you age inanimate objects begin conspiring against you. I don’t know how they can tell that you’re not twenty-five anymore – but they can. Socks get hung up on your toes as you try to put them on. They never used to do that. Jars get harder to open. When you’re not looking cashiers at supermarkets swap tight lidded jars for the ones you pulled off the shelf yourself. Doorknobs get harder to turn. The gravitational constant changes so everything you lift is heavier. And tee-shirts resist being put on.
Anyhow, I slip my arms into my tee-shirt and try to gracefully get the thing over my head. It refuses to go. Something’s wrong. Something’s really wrong. I take it off and put my glasses on.
It’s a pillowcase.