And they say you can never go back. Well maybe not, but you can sure hit the same co-ordinates and then dream that you're back.
And return customers based in Seattle sure doesn't hurt, either. Gave me a chance to go for an early morning hike.
The North Pacific smells like Eden. When you're deep in those woods, anyway. I just know I'm gonna get lost in those woods again tonight, Doc.
And while I was lost in those woods, I also
found some other old dream haunts of ours. Big Log!
That would be the sheriff's station and the Packard Sawmill, seen from unusual angles. There was a real world cop there guarding the place from rabid Twin Peaks fans whom I attempted to reassure that I was not, in fact, one of them. When he didn't believe me I had to sneak into those woods again for some guerrilla shots.
I had a dream the other night which, when I woke up, left me with that bittersweet feeling of joy and loss that only dreams can evoke. Not to sound gay or anything. But it was a pretty simple dream; I was in a hallway, and people started arriving. They were people I'd known from Germany. More and more showed up until we formed a very crowded circle in the hall there, and everybody was chattering away, laughing, telling old stories and old jokes from our time at Chiemsee. Nothing can be as nice and comforting as an old joke retold between friends you haven't seen in years. Like the time Bailey caused Deutsche Bahn to cancel the 11:10pm train route from Munich to Bernau because he got a bit too toasty and kicked out a train window, uh, accidentally. Disco night at the Windjammer.
Or when a rogue storm came up on the lake during a sailing class that Danielle and I were in together, capsizing our sailboat, losing my glasses to the bottom of the Chiemsee while trying to right it. Or Nimmer catching the train by his teeth as it was pulling out of the station during an unscheduled church points stop at 2am. Or Scott... well, he wouldn't want me to tell that story. But it's a funny story. Seth playing Frogger on the autobahn. Dirk tying a kite to his rear bumper, lighting it on fire and going for a ride on the hotel strasse, then waking up the next morning cuddled contentedly next to Josh in the Summerhaus kitchen. Dirk, Josh, Lauren, Dave & I seeing Foetus in Salzburg and getting locked out of the car, then driving up to Dirk's Dad's historical German hunting lodge for a weekend of too much rich food and cappuccinos, causing unspeakable trouble in my bowels. Dumpster diving. Charlie's. The Bernauer Stuben. Krampus fest. Al Harms! Bus Olympics. Absinthe parties after Absinthe runs to Czesky Krumlov. What was Matt's roomate's name who Scott made up all those stories about? Windjammer Halloween parties. "Stealing" the maypole from the Badehaus. Radlers on the German beach. That last summer on the dive shop dock. Volleyball Tuesday. Singing The Yellow Submarine in German. Rosenheim. Munich. The Bernau Bahnhof.
Anyway, I could go on and on, each one of those memories spawning a hundred more. Forgive me; wistfully reminiscing about Chiemsee is a pathological pastime for those of us who were there, annoying and boring on a regular basis our friends who were not. Suffice it to say it was a bittersweet dream, laughing with old friends whom I'll never see all together in one room again. I spent three years in Chiemsee, but I also spent three years in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a ski town near the Austrian border in the Alps. Garmisch tends to take back seat in my memories of Germany, as it was so much longer ago and the dynamic at Chiemsee during the final year of its operation was rather show-stealing. But coinciding with my dream, a good friend of mine, Marc, from the Garmisch days recently got back from a vacation with his wife whom he'd met there to revisit our old stomping grounds. He posted some pictures on his Facebook page from the trip and I of course found myself looking through them with a renewed sense of old days gone. He has loads of great pictures of our favorite German food and beer. Nostalgia, that's the word. Yuck. I had had a really great time there as well, and I think that it is perhaps one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
Marc reminded me of a historic night on the town. On the week prior to the night in question, we had been at the Santa Fe, otherwise known as the local American Bar. When the Santa Fe closes, there's only one other bar that stays open later (Well, except for the Evergreen, but that's another story) named Peaches. It's a horrid place. Fruity girl drinks and obnoxious party beat music. But at 3am, all pretense of discernment tends to fade. So we walked over, and the doorman wouldn't let me in. It was rather unbelievable for a bar that catered to the 3am crowd. He said my pants were too baggy; he thought I looked like a snowboarder. And I was a snowboarder in fact, but so what? He said, in middling English, that they'd had trouble with my kind. "They, they come in here and cause trouble and drink too much and, and they snowboard," as though it were an unspeakable crime. Weird, right? So I glumly turned around and went home, while Marc & Lenny got inside. The next week, for whatever reason, they let me in. I was dressed the same, I had actually gone snowboarding that day. It was ironically funny, but I was bitter. Last week had been inglorious. I felt wronged. Marc was retelling the story to Lenny, Sabino, and Rio. They laughed, the flavor of wormwood remained with me. I had never caused trouble, I was not one of "those" snowboarders. I had never come to this bar and... snowboarded... I cheered up. I wasn't thinking clearly, but I was thinking.
If I'm going to be accused of sinning, I might as well sin, right? I happened to have my snowboard strapped to the roof of my car right outside, having in fact, as I said, gone snowboarding that day. I ran outside to my car. The same doorman who had not let me in previously, but had inconsistently decided that I was okay on this night was working. I told him I'd be right back. No problem. I grabbed my snowboard and ran in. He didn't try to stop me from bringing my snowboard in, I think he was too confused. Perhaps the hand of God restrained him. In the back of the bar where we were seated, we were on a raised platform table with two or three stairs leading down to the main floor. Here, Marc took a picture of the very spot on his recent trip:
I strapped on my snowboard, gave a drunken rebel yell, and snowboarded down the stairs. Now Mr. Bouncer, you won't be lying next time when you say that snowboarders; "They, they come in here and cause trouble and drink too much and, and they snowboard."
Of course, the joke was really on me because I scraped the crap out of my nice new snowboard on those granite stairs and I had to pay a sweet 50 Deutsche Marks to get it re-waxed. But you know, in the annals of Drunken revelry, score one for me and the snowboarders.
I read 'Almost Home' last night, which is the autobiography of Damien Echols, the most prominent of the West Memphis 3. He's not necessarily a great writer, although the closer he gets to the main event that has shaped his life, the more eloquent he gets. But man, his story and his attitude on death row are incredible. Obviously, the saga of the WM3 has left a lasting impression on me. I had a dream last night where I was accused of something, I can't really remember what, but something to do with my fat ex-boss (not Phil; he's too shark-like to ever be fat) which I hadn't actually been involved in. Anyway, there was a "trial" (In the woods?) which was more like a kegger and nobody would listen to me... the drunk judge at one point told me that all this didn't matter, it didn't matter what I or anyone said, I was going to prison for this crime, it was decided before the alleged crime was even committed and this was all for show, allbeit a rather poor show.... well it's obvious where that dream came from, having just finished that book. But what was really neat about that dream was how it really suffocated me. I mean, really. I woke up taking deep breaths, and with the realization that the right to a fair trial was more than just words... it's something you hear all your life as an American, but until you actually suffer the injustice of being falsely accused and railroaded... yes it was only a dream, but that is sometimes what is so great about them. If you are deep enough in it, you really feel what's happening, and it doesn't matter that it's not something you've ever experienced in actuality. You are watching a movie in which you are the principle protagonist, and you forget that you're in a cinema until the lights come on. The range of your emotions in dreams can be quite surprising, also. Usually dreams are fluff; odd and interesting but ultimately very easy to slough off. But occasionally... I woke up from this one with an incredible amount of rage, which was I think the true cause of my breathlessness. It's hard to feel that kind of rage about anything in normal day to day life, even for someone like me who enjoys a good rant from time to time. It was the rage of personally feeling my right to exist taken from me... My first rational thoughts, after all the dream events and emotion began slowly sliding away, were of this: This dream wasn't so much about the WM3, although obviously inspired by them, but about the feeling of terror and helplessness that is going through the internal systems of mine and everyone else who understands what is going on as our rights and dignity are being slowly (or not-so-slowly, as it were) stripped away by the Red Administration. Granted, most of us may never be affected by the atrocity of a Senate-approved interrogation tactic, or a House-approved listening device in your overhead light. But they are still your rights that are being taken away, and as 3 extremely normal boys (even though they were not considered normal by their own hometown, they could have been dropped anywhere on either coast without making so much as a dribble) in West Memphis, Arakansas could tell you, you never know when it might be convenient for someone with more power than you and something to hide to use those stolen rights against you, or someone you know. Anyway, as some would say, who am I to complain? Well, they'd be right. I've been thinking about my moral quandry quite a bit recently. An old friend of mine basically called me a baby-eater for being here, and while I could never see it that way, the very fact that someone could think that about me has given me pause... There are three main reasons why I have continued to stay in Baghdad. 1) The money, hence, baby-eater. I no longer view the money as a reason to stay... honestly. If that was the only thing I had, I would leave this week. I don't need more. 2) My Iraqi friends. I am paying them very decent salaries, and they were unlikely to find other work if I'd have left prematurely, given the overall situation in Baghdad, and I've come to care for them quite a bit. Scott picks on me and rather derisively says I have a false Great White Hope attitude, but I fail to see how caring about your friends merits that. Anyway, I was able to, through a contact, find employment for most of them with a US contract in Kurdistan! So, my friends are about to begin a very decent-paying job in a very safe place... many of them will be moving their families up there. So, very shortly, reason #2 will be out of date! That's 2 down, one to go. The third reason is more personal and less easy to write about, but suffice it to say, with reasons #1 & #2 down, #3 will be much easier to handle, and I am going to start making preparations to leave this month, actual date of leaving to be determined, depending on some mundane logistical issues. Definitely by December. Will keep you posted, of course.