1. Pittsburgh has the topography of my dreams. By this I don’t mean, “I always wanted to live in a place with steep hills and confusing street layout!” (I do enjoy it, but that was a gradual discovery after I moved here, not a reason to move here) but I mean that Pittsburgh when I’m awake is the kind of landscape in which I tend to wander in dreams. This particular dream was set in Pittsburgh, and I even knew which neighborhood I was in (Bloomfield) and which one I was trying to take a bus to (Oakland), but once I gave up on the bus and started walking, it turned into one of those journeys abounding in sharp turns, unexpected staircases, cryptic signs, paths at the end of the road, odd characters hanging around, wildflowers growing through concrete, sudden bridges to totally different places, mysterious artifacts of previous civilizations, and finally realizing that the place you’re trying to get to is right there 50 feet above you. I’ve always dreamed about this sort of wandering. Now it’s part of my waking life, too.
2. I guess I’ve become fluent in Yinzer. The local dialect and accent haven’t affected my normal speech any more than my 16 years of living in Oklahoma caused me to speak Okie, but I do understand Yinzer now, pretty well, and respect its efficiency. In this dream, I was trying to figure out whether to take the northbound or southbound bus–in my mental map, Oakland is west of Bloomfield–and when I asked the people at the bus stop, they said things like, “Yunna go sahth cuzzat’s upstreet, anna Twenny-one B takes a left up air, but get off at where Isaly’s use ta be, rahnna corner catch a Sixy-four J,” and I was able to translate that perfectly; the only reason I didn’t follow their directions was that I thought taking two buses to travel such a short distance might take longer than walking, and also I felt a bit ashamed and wistful at having missed the entire Isaly’s era so that I have no idea where this iconic dairy used to be.
3. “When am I?” is a question that’s permeated my thoughts in the past few days, since I’ve been reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, an extremely captivating and interesting novel about a girl who meets a time traveler when she’s six, but he doesn’t meet her until she’s twenty, at which point he is younger than he ever was on any of his many visits to her childhood, so he doesn’t know her yet, and his time traveling is involuntary, and–well, anyway, it’s a really great book! As my dream journey went on and on through unfamiliar places that were nonetheless obviously Pittsburgh, the question, “Where am I, and which direction is toward my office?” kept tangling with the question, “When am I, and how long have I been hiking through this valley with so many discarded cell phones among the ferns, and when I emerge into the world above will I find that the cell towers have fallen and a whole new era is upon us?”
4. You know you’ve found a good book when even in your dreams you are seeking more time to read it! I mean, the whole narrative of this dream began when my reading of The Time Traveler’s Wife was interrupted by raindrops falling on the page, an experience I’ve actually had twice this week. It’s so annoying: My impatience about waiting for the bus had been so effectively calmed by this wait creating an opportunity to get back to the book I’m so eager to read, but now I can’t continue without damaging my book! But in the dream situation, it probably was good to look up and think about whether I was supposed to be on the other side of the street waiting for the bus in the other direction.
5. It would be kind of fun if October 1 really was Horton Day. While walking in my dream, twice I came into an area that could be loosely described as a “town square” (this being a large city with bizarre topography, “neighborhood trapezoid” is more accurate) and found it filled with children putting on a play of Horton Hears a Who! which bystanders assured me is the custom on Horton Day. It was very charming the second time, when I knew I must be approaching another urban location that could stand in for Whoville Town Square because I could hear dozens of shrill voices bleating, “WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!!!”
6. I wonder if the Fairfax Apartments a few blocks away from my office have an Apartment 12-J. That’s clearly not the apartment building in which Whoville’s lone shirker was found–because Pittsburgh isn’t microscopic and because I’ve been inside Fairfax and it doesn’t have those cool rounded doorways and split levels and multibunkbeds we see in Dr. Seuss’s illustrations–but still, it would be neat if someone lives in the Fairfax Apartments, Apartment 12-J. Oh, and speaking of intersecting worlds, I must point out to any readers who’ve missed it (as I did for years before a sudden epiphany) that The Grinch Who Stole Christmas also takes place in Whoville, and therefore that whole story, with all those toys and trimmings and trappings and that grinch who seems so powerful, all takes place on a speck as small as the head of a pin! Whoa!!
7. A few rude words can really ruin your whole dream. As I approached the second Horton production, hoping to glimpse it while sneaking around it in the alleys so as to get to work on time, I was approached by a small Who waiting in the wings, who poked me in the midriff and announced, “Your stomach is fat and dead!” His stage mother, standing nearby, gave me an apologetic eye-crinkle and cooed, “Isn’t he cute!” No, ma’am, he is a brat, but before I could say anything my alarm clock went off.
Ending on that note left me feeling pretty disgruntled until I told my family about my dream and found that I couldn’t repeat the brat’s words without laughing. They assured me that my midriff is thin and alive, and I got to read more of The Time Traveler’s Wife at the bus stop without getting rained on, so all is well.
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