Friday, October 7, 2011

Dream City

There is the San Francisco I inhabited in my early twenties and the San Francisco that inhabits my dreams; a simulacrum I have built in my head.

Dreamscape ‘Frisco resembles a paper shadowbox: rows of filigree cut Victorian houses marching down to the Pacific, pitch black against a red-orange sky; perpetually sunset.

A house I never lived in sits on a twisted version of my old Mission corner, Capp and 19th; frying beans and chopped cilantro from the local taqueria perfuming the air, as ever.

My dream house is gray on the outside, sketchy and unformed. But inside? A kaleidoscope puzzle box.

Sometimes there are many rooms, telescoping; sometimes few, claustrophobic.

A tinkly crystal chandelier hangs in an empty sunlit chamber whose high, 15-foot ceiling completes the space, squaring it.

A door opens once to a cerulean blue bathroom, oceanic in size and temperament. Closed, it opens next to a tiny closet, redolent of cedar and old newspapers.

There is an attic, sometimes; low, bare ribbed, and full of secrets.

And sometimes a 4th, 5th, even 6th floor, holding surprises: a pool table; a pool; a family of wise white cats, clearly descended from the one who lived with me once, those many years ago in the real San Francisco.

Golden eyed and mysterious, I had dreamed of her for a month before she found me at a gallery opening in Potrero Hill, yowlingly demanded I take her home.

My memories of California have now taken on fuzzy edges, those wavy lines you cross back and forth between what happened for sure, and what has become mythic in your many years of re-telling your story to yourself.

While my dream San Francisco remains crisp, flash frozen and locked in; revisited in a way the actual has not been for some spate of time.

And who is to say which is the more real?

The one I walk in memory, or in dream?

In both my feet are mere thoughts now, biochemical contrails wrought of firing neurons.  

When the fog descends on a twisty hill, and I chase a white cat through ghostly streets named for planets, does it matter if it is dream or memory?

Really, does it matter?

This post was written in response to a prompt from Write on Edge to paint the picture of a place (real or imaginary) in our mind, and then use words to paint it for our readers. So I chose a place that was both.

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