1 (5-8-15): Went on a road trip to Oregon with Jeb, Stephen, & Amy. I wanted to go into a shop they weren’t interested in. They wanted to go into one I wasn’t interested in. So we separated. Jeb said I could meet up with them at the Visitor’s Center and then we’d go to dinner.
I went to meet them at the Visitor’s Center. They weren’t there. I thought maybe I had the wrong one. So I went wandering in search of another and couldn’t find any.
At 2 AM, weirdly, the sun was only just beginning to set, but I was feeling both abandoned and pissed off about it so it didn’t bother me one bit to call Jeb and wake him up wherever he happened to be. I was sitting on a park bench outside the only Visitor’s Center by then. My inner bitch had emerged full blown.
“Where ARE you?” I demanded the moment he answered.
“I’m at the Visitor’s Center,” he innocently responded. “Where are you?”
“I’m at the Visitor’s Center,” I ground out “and you’re NOT.”
“Yes I am. We all are.”
“At what address?”
And here I was stranded without my car in Bend, Oregon!
Poor Jeb came to wake me up then. He always wakes earlier than I do. He wakes me with sweet kisses.
I opened my sleepy eyes and glared at him.
“Are you mad at me?” he asks.
“You LEFT me in Oregon!”
I forgave him I finished waking the rest of the way.
2 (5-10-15): I was in some sort of prison camp and being singled out from a group in one crowded cell and taken to another at the end of a long, dark, hall.
Stepping in past the guard, I’m first surprised at how big it is, then the absence of other prisoners.
Everything is dusty and musty. There’s the usual bare-mattressed iron frame bed with a wool blanket folded on it and old pillow, but only one. No bunks. There are work benches, but no tools. There’s a toilet and a sink against the cement wall at the foot of the bed. There are dusty rafters hung with cobwebs far above me. The single bulb hanging from the ceiling I can’t even see makes it seem cavernous and I realize I can’t even see it all. Shadows are hiding much more toward the back.
The guard locks the door and leaves me standing there, intrigued more than anything.
I’m garnering my courage to see what lies in the shadows beyond. My curiosity insists on this. But I haven’t yet moved when I hear footsteps coming back down the hall. I turn to look.
I assume the handsome man in his foreign looking gray uniform will be my interrogator and nod politely to him as he enters, silently waiting.
He pulls a bear-cub faced doll from his jacket and hands it to me.
I stare it in surprise. Though I never had one like this in real life, my dream self remembers it from childhood. It was one of those that walked and talked and was made to look like one of the Bernstein Bears. Sally? But it was dirty as though it had been left in the woods for a long time. No surprise. I ran in the woods a lot as a kid. I might every well have left a toy there.
I smiled and thanked the man adding, “I remember this doll. I used to play with it in the woods as a kid.”
He gave me quick grin that doesn’t reach his eyes, then clicks his heels and nods toward me without a word.
I took the doll to a sink to carefully wash the dirt from its clothes and hair and the creases of its face. He leaves me to it and walks away into the shadows deep in.
Suddenly I hear a lot more water running than the little stream of it I’m using. Some of the doll’s creases are still grimy, but I’m curious. I shut of the faucet and follow the sound of the other running water. I head into the shadows the way the man had gone but, oddly, the light seems to follow me in.
Ahead, I see the man adjusting the water temperature on the taps of a big, beautiful, pink tub with jacuzzi jets. He pours bubble bath into it from a pretty bottle sitting by its side.
“Are you going to bathe the doll?” I ask him, baffled and amused. “It might damage the battery compartment if you immerse the whole thing.”
He turns and looks at me as if noticing me there for the first time. Says, “No. Not the doll. You will join me in the bath or I will take back your dolly.”
My eyebrows must have disappeared past my hairline, but I keep a straight face as I hand him back the doll. “Okay.”
His face falls, as does the doll from his fingers as he fails to take hold of it. He looks confused. Disappointed. “But I don’t want the doll.”
“But you said you’d take it back if I didn’t get in the bath with you and I’m okay with that. I left this doll behind in my childhood a long time ago. I don’t care about it anymore.”
I almost feel bad for him at his crestfallen look.
3 (5-13-15): I’m taking care of several children in a daycare center at the heart of some sort of fair. Most of them are babies.
A finely dressed woman comes in pushing a stroller that contains a curly-haired sleeping boy that must have been about 8 or 9. Way to old to be pushed around in a stroller, but the woman says, “I didn’t want to wake him,” and I accept this explanation. His name, she tells me, is Nathaniel.
She leaves. The boy keeps sleeping. I leave him be while I tend to the diaper and bottle needs of three babies in a row.
When I see Nathaniel finally opening his eyes, I smile and wish him a good morning, but he doesn’t respond. Just lays there, blank faced.
There are a few more small children to tend to before I get back to Nathaniel. He hasn’t moved. He’s just watching me now. I offer him breakfast. He doesn’t answer. I ask him why he hasn’t gotten up yet. There’s plenty of fun things for him to do here.
Finally, he answers. “I can’t get up. My mother hasn’t given me permission yet.”
It doesn’t occur to me at the point that his mother has never given him that permission. No. So I tell him, “It’s okay. Your mother left me in charge of you and I give you permission to get up.”
He flashes me a mischievous grin that’s like a bright light suddenly switching on, and asks, oddly, if I can help him.
This is the first time it occurs to me that there might be something wrong with him that his mother forgot to mention. But aloud I say, “Of course I can,” as I pull him up and keep hold of him until he’s standing beside his stroller on very shaky legs.
It’s lunch time by then and he’d already slept through breakfast. “You must be hungry,” I say.
He nods, seemingly too out of breath to speak, as if standing alone has taken the wind out of him.
“What would you like to eat?”
He gulps a big breath of air, steadies himself and says, “Terriyaki chicken.”
“Me too,” I say, knowing full well that the daycare has no such food in its larder, but the fair does.
My relief comes in, giving me the go ahead to go to lunch, and I tell her that I’m going to take Nathaniel with me since we both want to get terriyaki.
We go out into the sunshine, find our terriyaki, make a picnic of it, and then wander slowly through the stalls. His walking eventually steadies, but he’s very slow. It seems as though he’s not used to even this small bit of exercise, but he’s smiling happily and interested in everything as if he’s on the biggest adventure of his life.
We play a few arcade games and win our share of stuffed animals all of which I end up carrying because walking is struggle enough for him. But it’s fine. His happiness is infecting me.
Reluctantly, we return to the center when the lunch hour is over.
His mother is back too and standing by his empty stroller with a look of something like abject horror on her face. “Where is my son?” she demanded, looking right at him standing beside me, looking less than pleased to see her.
“He’s right here,” I tell her, laughing. “He said he wanted terriyaki so we went out to get some.”
“THAT is NOT my son!” she yells. “MY son doesn’t walk. He can’t do anything for himself. He needs me for EVERYthing.”
I don’t know what to say to her. I know there are some mothers that expect too much of their children, but are there also those who expect too little of them just because they need to have that child dependent on them forever?