Dream: The Coffeyville Shantytown

Dream 20030709, 7:20 AM:

I’m in a classroom, although it seems more like a room in someone’s old house. There are only a couple of students here, sitting at desks. We’re taking some kind of test. Having finished, we’re getting our scores, and mine is marked +/- on the front, which confuses me. I flip through, and see a couple of answers marked as incorrect; I’m not sure they’re marked right, and I’m annoyed. One of them has to do with nation-wide AIDS statistics, and I’m particularly annoyed about this question, because it’s really a science question, and this is a math test. It’s marked with something disparaging, like “Get real.” Cousin K. is here as well, also taking the test, and she has gotten a good grade on it. She is jumping up and down excited, and I’m grumpy. I say something about not taking Shakespeare again.

I half-wake, and then re-enter the dream and walk down the hallway of the building, which now seems more like a real school. I go through an odd false-awakening, totally conscious of the fact that I’m probably not *really* waking up or moving. As so often happens in false awakenings, I am hard-pressed to even open my eyes, but I push myself up from the pillow, where i had been lying face-down, force my eyes open for a moment to glance at the white wall behind my bed, and then let my face fall back into the pillow and go back to dreaming. I wonder to myself if I was really awake at all. I feel a little bit of a tingling buzz in my body, like I often get when I become lucid in a dream, but it quickly fades.

Then, I’m outside, walking along with Chris. We pass a rock bluff, and I tell him that’s where I used to go climbing on the big hill with Grandpa when I was a kid. We walk along further, and there are now a bunch of red-and-white iron-stained hills, kind of like in Palo Duro Canyon. I tell Chris that it’s the foothills of the Arbuckle Mountains. After walking down the road a while, we come to a little grove, and walk into it. There are a couple of rows of small open-fronted shacks here, each one about the size of a bus stand. There are homeless looking bums hanging out or lying in several of them. I point to them, and tell Chris this is a real shanty-town! We walk past the rows of shacks, and down to the banks of a river or lake. The water has risen way over its usual bank, and is onto the grass; I point this out to Chris, so that he won’t slip in and get soaked. We walk along the bank, and there are a bunch of people here. Some seem poor like the bums in the shacks, others appear like normal folks. Some are fishing, others playing. One woman thinks we’re peeing in the water, and tells us to quit. Down on the rock bank, which no longer seems flooded, I see a piece of weaving that I did a long, long time ago – it’s blue and brown, carpet warp with a diagonals pattern. I step down to the bank and pick it up. It’s muddy, but in decent shape. It becomes an old woven laurel medallion, with a square for the medallion part and a braided piece on either edge that becomes the cord. I laugh and show it to Chris. Betty S. and her husband Jeff walk by, and I say hi to her; it takes her a second to recognize me.

The dream becomes somewhat scary at this point; it doesn’t feel creepy, just a little heart-pounding. Chris and I find ourselves on a bus full of bums. We have to get out, and it involves crawling over this one scary guy to get out the back window. When we finally do get out, we’re in a little room that is part of a movie theater; it seems like it’s off of the main theater room, like a utility space. We’re sitting in this room, waiting to watch the movie. A guy hands me a rose pink plastic chair; I don’t understand how to fold it out, so he takes it back and flops it open, explaining that it’s a stool seat. It is some kind of portable toilet, which is really weird. He says a little rhyme about it that I don’t remember.

Then, we leave the theater room, and go outside. We’re at a mechanic’s garage; it seems very country, with lots of old cars and old equipment hanging around. I can tell that many of the mechanics are related, like it’s a family business. I recognize Dale Pickering, and figure out that it’s all his family. I go up and introduce Chris to him. When he holds out his hand to Chris, he says, “George,” but it doesn’t seem like he’s correcting me, but instead offering a familiar name. He says that Grandpa was his very good friend.

We walk down toward the main road. We’re going to our car, which is a 1960 powder-blue Chevy. I tell Chris about coming out to swim in Pick’s pond, and how Grandpa always gardened out here, and how Pick had his own gas station. I have a necklace that I found somewhere, and I’m fiddling with the silver clasp as we walk and talk. It seems like it needs a swivel piece.

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