A dream I experienced last night I would like to chronicle.
I dreamt I was walking along streets in my old neighborhood in south Florida. Most of my dreams involving Florida leave it a flood plain or the depths of an ocean usually representing emotions. This was not the case with last night. I was walking down a clear road, having left a party. Presumably it might be the party I left last night but it seemed to be one with a different theme, like a birthday. I had a long walk to go and the road was dark except for the light of a very full and large moon overhead. I was a little worried about walking alone and kept turning my head in concern. I remember people at the party offering me a ride but I was too stubborn to accept. Something about ‘I know these roads, let me walk them.‘
I was too busy reflecting on a memory of walking this particular road once when I was a teenager heading home from school. I heard something growl off in the distance and it sounded like a panther. Florida is known to have panthers stalk people down roads such as this so the thought of being devoured by the beast terrified me. I heard a strange whirring noise that also caught my attention and caused me to shake myself from my revelry. There was an older woman coming up the road in a white Jaguar automobile. It was lavish! Almost a ‘mother of pearl’ paint that glistened in the moonlight.
The old woman stopped her car before me to my left side and spoke softly. ‘Child, it isn’t safe to walk these streets right now. Let me take you to where you live.’
I felt a bit like a scared child and some how replied to Her, ‘But I was told never to ride with strangers.’
She laughed heartily and said, ‘Child, I am many things but no stranger to you.’
I got into the opulent vehicle and noticed that the interior was probably the most comfortable one I had ever sat in. It was all white, including the floors which were impeccably clean. It was adorned with dark mahogany wood for the dash that served as a beautiful counterpoint to the mother of pearl accents throughout the car. I admired it for some time before turning to the woman who was driving on the darkened roads. She smiled and said, ‘Yes, it’s a real beauty. Not my most modest form of transportation but had I shown up in that, you might not have realized.’
‘Pardon me?’ I stared at the older African woman, clothed in white and blue before me. It wasn’t clicking right away who I was speaking to or what was going on around me. Hanging from the rearview mirror of the vehicle were several white and blue beaded necklaces hung like a kind of garland. I noticed that the Lucky Green Rice I had wrote about was allover the vehicle in specialized little bowls. My mouth dropped in earnest as I realized I was sitting in the presence of a beautiful deity. She laughed seeing my expression and tapped my bracelet to grab me out of my stupor.
“Yes, you know who I am.” She purred, Her voice sounding like the tides in the morning in the Bay of Sarasota. I knew the sound all too well.
“Yemaya?” I offered.
“Well, that’s one of My names. You know Me from the sea. When you swam with Me and My children. You were unafraid then of them and they knew it.” She said quietly, as if reflected on the past.
“My sharks, My rays, My ocean.” She rumbled a bit, her eyes growing intense but staying focused on driving. It was almost as if I could hear thunder rolling across the horizon of Florida as She spoke even though the weather outside was perfectly clear and dry.
I was speechless. I only sat there, not knowing what to say and taking in my surroundings. I noticed that it that the night around us was fading into a most spectacular south Florida sunrise. They are a famous, most breathtaking sight to behold. A sky ALIVE with colours of purple, yellow, orange, pinks and just a hint of blue receding into the sun. As we drove, we passed scores of Alligators on the sides of the road. They seemed to raise their head as to acknowledge the Deity who was driving past. It was one of the most surreal sights I’ve ever encountered in my dreams and that’s saying a whole lot.
“Unafraid of the most terrible of My children. You swam to them and for a moment, you were one with them. You always crave that, don’t you?” Yemaya said rather thoughtfully to me.
“Yes. I miss the ocean.” I said as softly as the afternoon rain creeping up in the distance.
“You miss more than just My domain.” She stated rather plainly but without a coldness to Her voice. As I looked ahead, I realized that the road was turning into ocean. The white Jaguar rolled along the seafloor as effortlessly as it did the asphalt. I realized that the Goddess was trying to prove a point to me.
“I miss being loved and having the ability to let people in.” I whispered.
“Yes, it does hurt, doesn’t it? We can all feel your pain and worry. But it acts like a barrier keeping you from more.” As She said this, we drove through a literal bridge of red coral that sparkled in the sunlight.
“I don’t want to let them in, though. I want to stay sane and not lose myself in a person like I did before.” I looked over at Her.
“They are not the ultimate goal. What matters is your journey and how you travel through these emotions. Like my sharks, you must be unafraid. You must be one with them or they will tear you to shreds.” There was a bit of mystery in Her tone now. As she said this, a very large hammerhead passed over Her vehicle. For a moment, it’s huge black doll eyes lulled in their housing in the way that it looks like sharks take a real delight in being separate from the world, gliding about in some sort of trance that is an enigma to anyone witnessing them. The shark moved in close to the vehicle with the threat of bumping it’s massive form into the automobile. “We do need connections, child, but they should never paralyze us from living the rest of our lives.”
I breathed in a lungfull of what I suspected was oxygen although it seemed impossible at the depths we were currently gliding through. I nodded slowly, taking in not only Her words but the entire scenario. I stared at the menacingly large creature as it silently slipped away from sight. I knew that sharks were a part of my psychic makeup. That their totem had a lot more meaning than just being an aggressive animal. When you swim with sharks in this life as I had, you notice that they seem to be in a meditative state at all times. I wondered for a long while what it would be like to be a shark. Caught in an endless cold sea with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. Sharks aren’t social aquatic animals even if they will mass in a school during a feeding frenzy.
During a time period where I was a super social butterfly, I would often go alone and unannounced to the beach in my Camaro with nothing but my swim suit, a pair of goggles and my yinyang necklace. With no breathing apparatuses I would dive into the ocean unprotected. There would be no diving flag or phone call to anyone incase I didn’t show back up when I said I would. I liked the freedom of being apart from life for just a time even if it meant I could be plunging myself into certain danger. I would swim past the few bands of sand bars that comprised these private beaches and make my way to the depths that housed a variety of aquatic life that teemed in Florida’s offshore.
And there they were, as always, the sharks. Sometimes it was some of the more menacing variety, like the lemon sharks or tiger sharks. Usually it was rays and nurse sharks, which can also be fearsome if the situation requires. I never treated them with arrogance. Even though I felt no fear swimming around them, I still looked at them with reverence and deep respect. As if they were a deity swimming before me in the darkness of a fatal ocean. I never encountered any bull sharks or great whites (they are a rare sight indeed, as they go to Florida to breed and die in the deep sea.) I did however swim perilously close to a hammerhead without realizing it and was told later on that this particular shark was one of the biggest that Florida’s waters could boast.
For a moment when I was out in the ocean, I would hold my breath (for just under three minutes at my height) and pretend to be one of them. Gliding as effortlessly under the water as the car I now shared with Yemaya. She held my hand for a moment and squeezed to break me out of this intense memory of the past. I noticed that the ocean had receded and we were now driving alone the pavement again. As She rounded a corner and entered the complex that housed my home in Florida, She slowed the car to a crawl and spoke to me.
“Which one is yours?” Yemaya asked me.
“Uh, that one…” I pointed to one of the cookie-cutter condos that were attached to each other in the elderly persons village at Pinebrook.
“749.” She answered back. She parked the car in front of the building and waited for me as I departed the vehicle to lock it. I almost thought the action of a Deity such as Yemaya locking a car in concern of some kind of crime to be comical. I did not dare ask Her why but She did look at me with a smile as if reading my thoughts. Indeed, She probably was also intrigued by my musings.
As we approached the threshold of the condominium, large black letters to our right indicated that the address of the unit was Seven Forty-Nine. Yemaya looked at me and smiled wryly. “This isn’t where you used to live.”
I looked down in shame. I wasn’t sure why I had lied to a Goddess I was currently trying to develop a relationship with in practice. I felt wrong on one level but She shook Her head at me as if to dismiss any wrong doing. “It’s fine. I do not mind a test,” She began, “I remember where you used to live. I would visit you often but you did not see Me. I came through the moonlight in your window and you felt Me many nights when the amount of your tears would rival My Oceans.” Her voice was almost musical sounding.
I said not another word as Yemaya lead me to the correct unit in the complex. I observed that there was evidence of people living in the neighborhood but we did not encounter another soul on our short walk past cars, palm trees, crab grass and mounds of fire ant hills. When we arrived at the door of my old house, I turned to Yemaya as She pointed to the numbers, “606.” I began to release a stream of tears when I saw the place. I had not thought of this place in a very long time. I felt my tears welling up in my hazel eyes. I felt Yemaya’s strong arms around me as She pulled me close in a maternal embrace.
“Go ahead, I will stay here. Look inside and see how it has changed,” She brushed a stray tear off my warm cheeks.
I opened the door and felt a bit like I was intruding on another’s space. At last, a sign of life outside the ocean ran up to me immediately and began sniffing my shoe. It was a tri-coloured spaniel-type dog with large brown eyes. She didn’t offer a bark but she inspected me with an alert gaze. I reached down to pet her and felt her soft fur sewn between my fingers. The warmth of her body was comforting as the flooding of emotions hit me full force as the scene unfolded before us.
The place looked completely different. The carpet was a dark maroon instead of tan, the walls were a pleasant shade of honey tan and covered with mementos of various shopping adventures. As I passed my old room, I noticed that inside there was a small piano, a bird cage housing some love birds and many varieties of plants. I stared blankly at my old domicile with so many thoughts entering my mind and heart I felt that they were battling each other for control. I remembered sitting there on my computer, watching over my dying father, the fights with my mother and the joy of having my first girlfriend Lydia wake me up with a kiss as we initially explored our sexuality together.
I sighed deeply, missing the connection I had with her and knowing full well it had been my arrogance, pride and stupidity that had brought an end to that amazing relationship. There was a fleeting thought of how the same scenario had repeated it’s self not too long ago and the pain of losing that individual had almost physically killed me. I drew in a deep breath of air and began to pet the dog who was craving my attention.
As I walked through the stranger’s house, I noticed small shrines of green novena candles and bowls of green fixed rice strewn around the home. They seemed odd and out of place but as if they were purposely set there to grab my attention. As I made my way back to the master bedroom of the condo, I felt like I was walking through wet sand. I knew that my last memory of that was staring at the stained mattress where my dad had gasped his last breaths as I struggled to administer life support to him. I hated my mother for never having the guts to get rid of that death bed and knowing full well that she did not sleep on it. It only served as a reminder as the most painful event of my life.
I stopped outside the doorway and peered in, expecting for some reason to see that same dirty, broken bed shifted to one side as the frame had long given out. My eyes were met with a very different scene. The room was beautiful. No longer a dark cove of misery and depression that was my father’s last few months. No, it was brightly lit from several wicker-style lamps. Rattan furniture adorned it’s corners, no longer the white-lacquered 80’s stuff that my parents had picked out together decades ago. The bed was well used but clean. It had blue sheets, covers and pillow shams. The mattress had been set up to sleep two people, presumably a happy husband and wife. Incense burned in the distance that smelled faintly like sandalwood.
I felt Yemaya come up along behind me and put a hand on my back. She whispered in a thoughtful tone, “Much has changed. Many things are not how you remember them and no longer deserve the pain you attach to their memory. Behold, I want you to look at your future and not at your past.” I could hear the spaniel walk into the room, sit beside me and look up at me soulfully with her large umbre orbs.
End of dream.