Posted by: normanlgreen | October 12, 2011

Dream, October 12, 2011 junk and harvest

Dream, Home, 4:09 am

In a neighborhood that combines Edmonton, Alberta and the suburbs of Houston, Texas — a split level 1970’s house where my parents rule. I cannot tell if I am a young child or my own age,  unwilling or unable to live as an adult.

I wish to go to a thrift store to see what is available. My mother informs me that there will be a family outing to a jumble sale, but that I am not welcome. When I ask why, she tells me that it is because I never get rid of anything, that I have filled a gigantic closet. Wrapped around the corner of the white, dry-walled room, there is a closet with sliding doors. This closet runs a third of the southern wall and three quarters of the western wall of an otherwise empty room. When I approach the closet, in my anger, the sliding doors of the closet disappear, leaving everything open and in plain sight. Inside, there is a single L-shaped shelf that runs above the level of my head. Beneath the shelf, on both sides, a dowel is hung from which hang long coats, thick and dark, some of them wrapped in dry cleaning bags.

With anger at my parents for excluding me from the family outing, I grab a hold of an armful of the clothing, tear it from the rack and throw it onto the open floor behind me. I keep after this, never looking to the growing pile, but furious and focused on making my dramatic point. I know that some of the things that I toss into the donation pile do not belong to me, but feel that since I am held responsible for creating the mess, it is my choice to throw it all away. I pull a chair to the southeast corner of the L-shaped shelf and sweep away boxes and photo albums and stacks of sweaters. No one speaks to me as I do this, and none of my rage is spent in this process. As I come to the corner, I pass through a lot of items that I know belong to the other men in my family, things that they would like to keep hidden. For a moment, I hesitate, but down they come in my vengeance. At last, the closet is empty, save for a few bent hangers and dust bunnies. The walls look beat-up, with scuffed paint.

I turn around to face into the room and discover that a group of people has been carrying away my donation pile. Everything has been loaded into two cars to take to the thrift store’s donations reception doors. I offer to drive one of the cars, but my mother tells me that my father will drive one and my brother will drive the other – that I am too young. I can sense from my body that I am not a child at this point, that I am an adult, being treated like a child (and acting like one – given my latest behavior) My anger escalates.

I walk out the front of the house, which faces East. The day is bright and clear but not oppressive. I look to the empty driveway to the South then to the street, but both of the cars have already been driven away. A few items, small boxes, clothing accessories, litter the lawn, everything having been stuffed into the cars as quickly as I was able to pull them from the closet. I walk back into the house, which on the exterior looks like our old mock-tudor house on Suwanee Lane, but inside, the place doubles as a restaurant.

Some of the clientele at the lunch counter are extended family. I walk up to a bald-headed gentleman who is slightly taller than myself. I understand him to be an uncle or a second cousin – the distinction being unclear. As we stand before the brushed metal door of a commercial refrigerator, I tell him how I am being treated like a child. I brush my chin to confirm the bristle of whiskers. He is sympathetic, gentle and calm and suggests that he will say something to my mother, to clarify to her that I am an adult now. However, he never crosses behind the counter to talk with her directly, and she remains unseen.

I leave to find the man who has been contracted to deal with all of the discarded items. He used to have a good reputation for taking care of things, but has grown lax in his dealings. He would like to re-establish his reputation, so has taken on the job of sorting through my jetsam.

Rather than working inside of a proper building, he sits under a wide spreading tree that stands next to a pole building – open-sided like a hay barn or a shelter for an RV. As I walk up to his crown of the hill, he has tied a large black plastic bag to the tail of a bear. He shoes the animal away. We both watch as the animal drags the bag down into a ravine. The recycler’s first task is to sort through all of the stuff and figure what can be re-used and what is trash. He does not feel any hurry to get started, and I have the impression that the bag I have watched the lumbering bear drag through the tall grass is actually the last bits of a previously contracted allotment. There is an old fire ring under the tree. The bearded man pokes at it with a stick as he mumbles in generalities about taking care of things.

Under the covering roof, an abandoned sandbox has been left to grow full of weeds. The man walks me toward the box, formed by four 2×12 treated-lumber boards that have been nailed together at the corners. He steps onto the grass growing in the sandbox and pokes at it half-heartedly with a shovel. He tries to dig straight down, but doesn’t use much force, so he fails to penetrate the green surface. I bend down for a closer look at the grass and decide that for its regularity, it has been planted intentionally, therefore the planter intended for it to be harvested. I see that the medium it grows in is no mix of soil, but wet yellow sand. I take the flat-point shovel from the lazy man and demonstrate how easily the turf comes away when approached laterally.

“Well,” he says, “I guess the creatures need their rice.”



  1. I suppose I could poke at your dream with a stick, but doing so seems pointless. Thanks for sharing it. Jules

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