Friday, June 13, 2008

Last Night

I had a strange dream last night. Actually, it wasn’t strange at all in terms of the overall canon of my dreams. But this one deals with upcoming events and has a literary thread, so here goes:

I am traveling alone in some vague part of the country. I guess I have to assume that it is somewhere in Georgia because I am aware that I am looking for “The Flannery O’Conner House.” In reality, I am not sure that any such place exists, but her being a relatively important writer, it seems like a solid guess that it does (exist).

I am on what seems to be a central avenue in a local town, nondescript, lined on both sides by what seems like pre-fabricated homes. I ask a local townsman where the Flannery O’Connor house is, and he gives me vague instructions, points me farther down the main street and to the left. I walk forward, turn left and find a lovely independent bookstore. I realize that I don’t have my video camera. How can I profile this store? How can I convey its local awesomeness to the rest of the country? I don’t even have a basic still camera. I am at a loss.

I stumble toward the entrance. (Why am I stumbling?) I enter, and inside it is silent, still: quiet. I walk around, looking for someone, anyone. The store is wonderfully eclectic. There are sections for children’s books, fiction, local writers, and Georgia history. I was right; I’m in Georgia. The store is furnished with soft couches and recliners. I smell coffee brewing. I consider taking a nap.

Finally, an old woman descends a staircase and greets me. She is the owner, she tells me. I ask her about the O’Connor house, and she nods as if annoyed, says that “Yes, it is just up the road.”

I want to tell her that I’m not just some know-nothing tourist, that I want to profile her store, to value what she is doing here, but she turns on her heel and motions for me to follow.

At this point, I’m stubling over my words. I want to know if she sells disposable cameras. She pauses. She seems bothered. She nods, yes. But you'll have to wait, she says. Her partner handles that. She begins to make her way carefully up the stairs. I follow at a respectful distance. As we reach the top of the stairs, the room opens up to me. It is not books that are kept up here but rather used furniture. All types: desks, recliners, couches, love seats, end tables. And here, suddenly, is her partner.

She is short, this partner, mid-thirties to early forties. I don’t remember her name if, in fact, it was given to me at all. This partner and I follow the older lady, who tells her that I’m looking for the O’Connor House and asks if she (the partner) can take me there.

The short partner says, “Yes, please follow me.”

I pursue, and the younger partner takes a right, down a very narrow, tile-lined corridor. I trail along, and the corridor takes a sharp left. By the time I take that turn I realize that I have inadvertently followed her into a small restroom. She is already sitting—pants a her ankles--on the toilet.
[Insert Freudian analysis here.]

“I’m so sorry,” I say, so embarrassed, and turn quickly out of the corridor, back into the main room. I’m looking for the hall to the staircase, and I think I’ve found it. I enter, and—despite all logic—here I am upon her again, her squatted humbly on the throne, and here I am saying, “Oh, God, I’m sorry. So terribly sorry,” and I turn into what I am sure is the main room. Yes, there is furniture all around. The old lady looks at me suspiciously, but then her partner is with us again, looking refreshed and sturdy.

“Had to pee, did you,” the old woman says to her younger partner.

“More than that,” the partner says. "I’m so proud of myself. My bowls are more regular than they’ve ever been.”

I give her “the thumbs up” and say, “Cool.”

That’s all I remember. I don’t think I made it to the O’Connor House. I would remember the peacocks, no?

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