To each her nightmare. As a child, for years I dreamed that the world had morphed into a metal wiffle ball. Barefoot, lashed by wind that whistled through the hollow globe, I attempted to walk the struts, to not fall into the void. My feet ached from the cold, stuck to the metal. Losing the battle, finally falling, woke me up. That dream finally lost its hold when I flew into New York and, from the airplane saw the Unisphere, a remnant from the 1964 World’s Fair.
In 1995, another recurring dream lost its hold on me when I visited the source, a house I had lived in until the age of five. The basement, still unfinished, with sweating, partial cement walls, preserves stored on an earthen shelf, a bald bulb swinging from the damp dark ceiling, cast harsh shadows. A rusted bicycle. Stacks of magazines.
Dreams, in my opinion, are caused by the Soul—that is, when the sensual and mortal parts of man are, as it were, dead, then the Soul shines forth, and produces certain impressions upon the brain, these impressions being dreams… I pay no heed to foolish dreams… It is when you have a striking and vivid dream that it portends something. — Raphael’s Book of Dreams by Raphael,the astrologer of the nineteenth century, ©1886, David McKay Company, Philadelphia
When I moved to LA, I lived on Venice Beach and, even after moving to Silver Lake, I spent countless days at the beaches that spin out north and south of the city. That’s when I started having tsunami dreams.
I’m on a bluff somewhere on the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking a beach. Sometimes it’s Matador, sometimes Santa Monica, and sometimes I’m looking on the beach at Roquebrune Cap Martin on the Côte d’Azur. The beach is crowded but I can make out my loved ones or, most usually, just my kid brother, playing on the beach. I’m supposed to be there, too. I’m late. Just as I start to descend the steep, white-washed wooden stairs to the beach, I see it, an enormous wave heading inland. Too far to make my voice heard above the wind, to warn the people on the beach, my loved ones, my brother, I watch it come. Helpless.
My tsunami dreams evaporated after the Northridge earthquake in 1994. The earthquake hit at 4:31 AM and measured 6.7 on the Richter scale. A few dozen dead, 8,700 injured, houses and highways collapsed. Those statistics pale when compared to the death and destruction caused by recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, New Zealand and Japan. As a survivor of the “medium one” in L.A., however, watching the footage of recent events in Japan play out on the news opens up a sickeningly bottomless pit in my stomach. Helpless.
Waves — To dream you are on the sea-shore, and surrounded by the waves, denotes you will be placed in very distressing circumstances, out of which it will require all your energy and perseverance to escape. — Raphael