As the sun moves round the bend
With an imaginary man
And we’ll make believe around and around again”
Oh, these dreams. I’ve always considered myself a heavy and heady dreamer, but there’s something about pregnancy dreams and pandemic dreams and then baby dreams and still pandemic dreams. Sometimes I dream I’m in public and at parties and hugging loved ones, and I realize too late that I’m not wearing a mask. It’s funny how these heavy and heady dreams are built and managed these days. I used to split my dreams into two categories: good or bad. Many dreams are both, though, or neither. It’s more abstract, with color and sound and feeling. These days I split my dreams into two categories: acknowledging COVID or a world in which COVID-19 doesn’t exist. Sometimes they’ll tear or trace into one another. Like how I’ll have a dream about doing something normal, like going for coffee or making a new friend, and then waking up into the cold COVID reality is a bit of a shock to the system. Often, I’m still warm from these dreams.
I don’t believe I’m so strange
In spite of all this time I spend
Calling the air by a name”
I dreamed about a summer home in a place somehow filled with red rock canyons, and somehow filled with great lakes. It was called Red Rock Island, and Bruce Hornsby lived on the island, in the shuttered red house next to ours. We became friends, even with the hierarchy of him being my most favorite singer EVER, and me being a nothing to him. There’s no real hierarchy, though, and he knew it and I knew it. I bet we both do in waking life as well. We became friends based on our own charms. We were both going back to our non-summer lives, and we wanted to stay in touch. In fact, I woke up right when he was programming my phone number into his phone so that he could text me and I could program his number. I’m certain the contact info would have read: “BRUCE HORNSBY, OMG!!” I know I’m Bruce-rambling now.
And that’s because of what happened a year ago this week. I know I’ve talked about that night a lot, when I was 7 weeks pregnant, with last minute tickets for Cassidy, Scarlet, and Des. And I watched Bruce Hornsby sing from the third row. I watched him pick up Scarlet’s handwritten note and read parts of it aloud, and then he sang her request – “Shadow Hand.” I don’t really know if COVID was on my mind that night too much. I definitely was aware of people coughing and I was aware of how close we were. It was such a small theater and I was certainly touching the couple next to me. I hope they didn’t mind! I didn’t mind, even seven weeks pregnant, and with all of the smells swirling around me. I had a purse full of snacks, should I need them. And we had gone out to dinner before the show. It wasn’t just my last concert, and my last time eating in a restaurant. It’s about being a year past that magic. And the meeting him magic.
I talk to myself or my friend
If real life comes tempting me
I’ll go back in my room again”
It’s not just about the pregnancy and all of its milestones beginning now over a year ago. Now my days are filled with Rider milestones, and gosh, that’s no less magical. He is pure magic, and in the flesh, and it’s weird to feel deflated and empty and devoid of pregnancy. Back then, I was barely comfortable, and I could barely sleep, but there was something about the unknown and anticipation, even in pandemic. These days I sing “Shadow Hand” to him in nonsense words. He smiles and laughs; reaches for my hand. Holds on. He’s funny and intuitive. He sings back to me.
No cards to send, no torn heart to mend
A little imagination and then
A world of fantasy with my friends”
I suppose I have the blues; I suppose many of us do. Sometimes I feel like I’m clutching at air; reaching for people who are reaching for people who are reaching for people. Through Zoom screens and FaceTime. Trying to get through the Groundhog Days, and hoping to wake up to a new song on the radio. A brand new us. We had a FaceTime with one of the grandmothers last weekend; when she wasn’t feeling that well. The phone cut off, but when we got reconnected, there was no audio. We watched helplessly as she blew kisses and said goodbye. We could read her lips and read her hands, but we couldn’t hear the sweetness. It reminded me of this past year; sweet and heartfelt, but never quite connected. The audio doesn’t match the video. There’s cold glass through our laced fingers and hands. Our hugs and kisses touch nothing but air.
So I focus instead on the little things I can control. The silly songs in the feelings, and the feeling in the silly songs. The flabbergasting love. Des hugs me, unexpectedly, and I’m flattened by his eight-year-old smell. It’s sweet. Scarlet asks to read a eulogy for a very beloved canine loss in our family, and she runs to the bathroom for a tissue. I pass by a red button-down shirt of Cassidy’s in our shared closet. It has a tiny piece of dust on it and I breathe it in; him in. “God, I love him.”
I say it aloud, making my way downstairs. There, Rider’s eyes search mine, letting his smile reach his eyes, and then they lock on a ceiling fan and then the TV; snippets and shadows on the wall.
“Shadow Hand” was on our birth mix, as you probably know, and it came on at some point towards the end. Or maybe it was after the baby was born? Details are fuzzy, as you probably can imagine, but I know that the midwife was in the room when it happened. “Oh, funny,” she said, and it was clear that she knew Bruce Hornsby music enough to know this song. “Shadow Hand – that’s like what you did (or maybe she said ‘are doing’) – bringing something imaginary into this world.” And indeed, the beauty and love and HIGHER that we can manifest into being.
He will be singing with me
And if I feel like singing alone
He always lets me be”