Saturday, March 1, 2008

I Dream in Farsi

I slept hard last night. It was maybe one of the best sleeps of my life. I had just returned from a night at my mom's, hanging out with her, my brother and sister, eating pizza and catching up on each other's lives. I've increasingly been spending more time with them, and it is a real blessing. Last night was particularly poignant; I had a conversation with my mother that was about 34 years overdue. And, without getting into details, it went extremely well. We were both ready for it. It brought us closer. It was an enormous weight off my shoulders. And so when I returned home last night, there was no cracking open of wine bottles. I had some seltzer, emailed my sister, and collapsed into my deepest sleep since childhood. And that is no exaggeration.

I dreamed of houses with empty family rooms and vacant three-season porches. I dreamed of sidewalks in neighborhoods, where I crouched down and took street-level photos of the view from each corner of the intersection. I dreamed my mother, sister and I chose to scale the track of a roller coaster rather than ride it. At the bottom was a girl I used to go to school with. Her children now attend school with mine. In my dream she had seven children. One of them wanted to play with me. She was a little moppish blonde who was eating a ring pop. Then she laid down to take a nap in her mother's large purse. I double-checked to see that the purse was unzipped so she could breathe. And then I said, "What's that?"

I turned around and saw all the things of which I had dreamed--the roller coaster was on the sidewalk, the three-season porch was covered in snow--and I could hear someone speaking in Farsi. Many people were speaking in Farsi. It sounded as if a whole family was having a lively conversation--in Farsi. I woke up.

My landlord, who is Iraqi and lives above me, was laughing. I could hear him through the ceiling. Then I heard a cackling of laughter and indiscernible voices. He was on a conference call--on speaker phone--with what was likely his family, most of whom now live in Jordan. Like any family, they were all talking at once, interrupting each other and trying to get the last word. Funny how although I do not understand Farsi, I was able to understand the rhythm of a family conversation. The female voices were persistent and vying to dominate. The male voices were occasional and striking. There was some laughter. And the goodbye seemed to last forever.

I laid there listening to words I didn't understand, while the rain dripped outside my window and cars splashed through puddles down the street. It was time to get up and start the day.

Ian called while I poured my coffee and asked me how it had gone last night. I told him that for the first time in my life, I woke up feeling like I had absolutely no pretense to keep up on even the most unconscious level. I almost felt like I didn't know what to do with myself. It's an amazing feeling to have had this conversation with my mom. A lot of healing took place because of it.

"When are you going to watch the movie?" he asked.

Ah, the movie. Last night I returned home to find that Ian had left a copy of the Darjeeling Limited on my kitchen counter for me to watch as an antidote to the stress of this conversation I had with my mother. I didn't watch it last night. I came home too late and was much too tired.

"Tonight. After the kids go to bed."

"You're going to sit down for a good Wes Anderson cry?"


"Good. You deserve it. That was probably the hardest thing you ever had to do."

"It was."

"Enjoy the first day of the rest of your life."

I will.

In the course of benign dinner conversation last night, as we discussed war, politics, and awkward social situations, I said to my sister, "The way I look at things is, 'What would Joe Strummer do--and how would Audrey Hepburn do it?'"

She is 15 and is beginning to appreciate that viewpoint.

In that vein, today I'm going to throw on some deeper Clash cuts as I drive over to Summer's house. I'm getting all dolled up for some fun, retro pinup photos today. Summer wants me to channel some inner Audrey Hepburn for the occasion.

I'll do my best. I certainly don't look like her, nor do I carry myself as gracefully (although I aspire to!). But I'm little and dark, and I can smile broadly. And today there will be nothing by light behind that smile.


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