Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Idea Of South

I dreamed last night that I was late leaving for the airport. It was 12 o'clock and the plane was departing at one. Fretting, I packed my suitcase with can after can of catfood. In the hotel lobby my colleague's usually disheveled and deranged patient, now strangely glamorous and coherent, stopped me to tell me something important. Then I woke up.

It was a classic dream, a major subcategory of anxiety dream, the being-late-for-something dream, right up there with forgetting-the-lines-of-the-play dream and the naked-in-public dream. And I dreamed it because I am about to take a trip.

I am going to, of all places, Florida. Sunny, warm, green, bright Florida. Land of white beaches, blue skies, and buff expanses of oiled and tanned skin. Lush land of fronds and snakes and gators. Can you imagine me, bog-woman of the north, descending upon Florida like some doomed invasive species ? I cannot.

I'm going to visit my parents, who are wintering there. Florida is SO off my radar I had to consult a map. They're on the Gulf-facing coast, just above the everglades. That's South. Serious south. Souther than I've ever been.

You can bring your camera said my Dad, playing on one of my weaknesses. If that hadn't worked, he'd have invoked a freezer full of vanilla Soy Delicious. He knows all my Achilles heels.

It's February, a significant month, the month I in which was born and the month of my first and doomed marriage. The Southest I've ever been occured on the honeymoon of that doomed liaison. We'd flown to Los Angeles -- which counts as West, not South -- to visit P's father. During that trip we spent a few hours in Tijuana. I have -- vide supra -- documentary evidence. Dig the rosy cheeked young bride, avec pinata: that's me, February 1979, South of the Border, 33 degrees latitude. Now I'm going even farther South. 26 degrees. That's practically equatorial.

I'm flying out, alone, this Thursday. On my birthday.

I think of Florida and I think of heat. Of unrelenting sun. Of humidity. Of crowds of cheerful, tanned people who like things like volleyball and Disneyland. People in shorts and sleeveless shirts. I think of Governor Jeb, the porcine sib of our simian-in-chief. I think of these things and I am appalled.

Whenever I have dreamed over maps I have always dreamed North. The Northwest Territories, Alaska, Finland, Siberia. Harsh, dark, northerly lands of taigas and tundras. Lands that make Boston -- latitude 43 degrees -- seem virtually tropical. But now, on this significant day, this birth-day, I will veer South, swapping stiff, dried tansy stalks and rattling oak trees for frangipani and mangrove swamps.

Dislocation. Disorientation. It could do me good. Packing tins of catfood, I prepare for my vision quest.

I will ingest the sacred Soy Delicious; and I will become, O Shamanic Daddy-O, more glamorous and coherent than I've ever dreamed.

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