La Noche Boca ArribaTuesday, February 08, 2011
I was at a corner, exactly the one at the foot of Seymour and Cordova waiting for a bus. My bus was the Lomas Chapultepec that normally goes from the neighbourhood of the well off, Lomas de Chapultepec to downtown Mexico City. The route takes it through the lovely boulevard, Paseo de La Reforma.
I felt odd, not because I was waiting for the wrong bus on the wrong street corner, but because I felt unbalanced. I suddenly realized I was missing my right shoe so I was off balance for that reason. I looked around and could not find any traces of my right shoe. When I saw that my bus was coming I made the decision to take off my left shoe. But the sidewalk was filthy and full of gravel. I was uncomfortable. I wondered what the passengers might think of the fact that I was shoeless.
I woke up.
I went in through one of the side doors of the Drake Hotel. This particular door was next to the stripper’s stage and I saw a dancer on the floor who winked at me and said, “Hello, Alex.” I ignored her and went into the bar where I found my father. I sat down. He looked exactly as I remembered him in the early 50s when he took me to the movies to a película de conboys. “Alex, the place is closing down so we must leave now.” We got up and we left.
I woke up.
Since I can remember I have dreamt. My dreams have always been colourful. There are a few that put me into my St. Edward’s High School boarding school as a mature student in his late 20s who is simply going back to school because the school is so much fun. In many of these dreams I knock on the door of the inner sanctum where the Brothers of Holy Cross lived. We were never permitted to enter and I have never entered in any of my dreams. All the brothers look exactly as I remembered them and they have not aged. It is only in June 2010 that my granddaughter Rebecca and I spent a week in that inner sanctum. We both had individual rooms and we had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the brothers who all looked as they look now and not then.
When I first became interested in girls when I was somewhere between 7 and 9 I attempted to force my dreams into the direction of experiencing being with the girls that I had a particular liking for at the time. One was called Susan Stone and the other Mary Lou Chase. These forced dreams never went anywhere and I would invariably fall asleep. I learned then that I had to take dreams as they came.
I have been a fan of British writer Graham Greene since I read The Power and the Glory many years ago. I have always been attracted to writers who in some way wrote about their personal doubts in their approach to God. I have been partial to Chesterton and Waugh for the same reason. When I found out that Greene had a little book by his night table in which he would write his dreams before he forgot them, I was charmed!
I have never gone that far but I do consider my dreams and give them much importance while discounting anything Freud or Jung might have said about their meaning.
The ultimate dream story is Julio Cortázar’s La Noche Boca Arriba (the Night Face Up) from his book Ceremonias. In it a man is having a particular nightmare on a hospital bed. He had been riding a motorcycle in a crowded city and was hit by a car. His dream is the same one except that it progresses. He is a captured soldier from a vassal tribe of the Aztecs and he knows he is going to be ultimately taken up a pyramid and have his heart torn out with an obsidian knife. He always manages to wake up in the hospital bed and tells himself it is only a dream. At the end of the story when the blood stained priest raised the knife to plunge it on his chest he comes to find that the strange place with vehicles that seemed to move on their own volition and the hospital bed are in a place alien to him and that the reality of the obsidian knife is the only one. He dies. He does not wake up.
Without having any scientific knowledge to back it up I find my dreams as real as my waking life. The difference is that I seem to have an apparent possibility of changing the course of the events that affect the life that I live awake. Asleep I can observe, suffer, worry but I cannot change anything. Events control me even in the one recurrent dream where I go to an airport (I do not know what country) with plenty of time to go through the boarding procedures. The airplane is a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 and for some reason I am going to Rio. No matter how many times I have had this dream (or at least in the versions I can remember) the airplane has never taken off.
While I dream I have never been much affected by drugs. In fact I remember once when Maurice Depas of the pop band Maurice and the Clichés, pretty well forced me to smoke some very strong has at Wreck Beach. He knew I never took drugs. He wanted to use me as his guinea pig. After a few puffs of it in my Petersen pipe (the pipe was ruined after that) I told Maurice, “This stuff has no effect on me except I cannot move any of my limbs. I am numb.” On another occasion in Mexico my English friend Andrew Taylor bought some peyote at the market. He and Raúl Guerrero Montemayor watched me as I ate the stuff. After a long while where they all stared at me and kept asking me, “Do you feel anything?” I threw up and that was it.
Another time at Gary Taylor’s a chubby woman came up to me and said, “I like you. Hold out you hand.” She deposited a mound of white powder. Knowing that there was not much I could do except to be curious I sniffed it up. The woman came back and with a smile said, “Well?” My reply seemed to confuse her. “I feel like I have gone up the stairs of the Buenos Aires subway and I am approaching the street. The hot stuffy air of the subway is now being replaced by a cold blast of fresh air.
In short I have never been affected much by drugs of any kind except until now.
My rheumatologist has prescribed powerful drug called Methotrexate. I take three pills once, once a week. The doctor says that after a couple of months I will feel relief in my joints and my pinkies might just not hurt so much. But I have to have a blood test every month to check what the drug might do to some of my organs like my liver. The doctor gave me a long list of web pages that inform me of all possible side effects, none pretty at all.
But none of the web sites list the one side effect that I am suffering but also in a way enjoying and which must be a result of the drug.
Because of my certain age and since I am a male there are some nights where I might have to get out of bed to discharge nonexistent liquids in the men’s room. This means that every time I wake up and I am usually dreaming I can now remember more of my dreams. Some of them like the one of the Mexican bus are vivid even days later. Going back to bed I feel the anticipation of feeling as if I were getting ready to read a new novel lying on my night table.
These dreams seem (I have no experience in the matter to opine) like dreams I might have from ingesting psychedelic products. As far as I can tell it must be the Methotrexate.
If I were less disturbed and more of a hypochondriac I might, just like that ancient captured warrior, feel fear at falling asleep.