We have another piece by our President and Queen, Laura Hernandez, this week!
If social distancing has you writing a little more than usual and you would like to share a piece or two with the wider world, we would be glad to help you share it. Submission guidelines will follow Laura’s piece.
I’m not one of those people who believe dreams Mean Something. I studied this when I got older, and it confirmed what I’d always believed: Dreams are what you are afraid of, come to get you when you are laying down with your eyes closed.
I got to thinking about this again when I heard CNN journalist Chris Cuomo talking to his brother, Andrew (you know, the Governor of NY). During his first night of Chingonavirus, Chris had fever-dreams about his brother. In the dream, Andrew was coming at Chris, dressed in a “ballet outfit” which I assumed was a new costume. (For Andrew, not Chris. Not that I think Chris wears a ballet outfit, but I’m just trying to make a copy-editor-clearness point.) Andrew came at his brother in his ballet outfit, with a wand in his hand (Andrew not Chris) and told Chris he was going to take this (Chingonavirus) away with a wave of his wand. Chris is still sick, so Andrew can’t do everything.
This whole episode got my Favorite Sister, Patty and me talking/texting about our fever dreams. When we were kids, all six of us, passed around colds/flu, measles (both kinds), chicken pox, mumps and the poops and vomits round and round, so there were fever dreams.
My recurring fever dream (which I still get when I have a bad fever) is that Patty is 5 and I am 6 and I am driving us to the beach in the large family station wagon with the wood on the sides. We lived near the beach, Malibu when it was still a swamp, and so that part was believable. The part that is not believable, is of course, I couldn’t see over the steering wheel. That did not, would not stop me. I did what I could do, what I could reach, and that was working the pedals on the floorboard. Steering was not necessary. It was a dream, not a documentary. Patty was very encouraging, but she wasn’t steering either. She was even shorter than me at 5 years old. But as in all my Big Ideas and Adventures, Patty was right there with me, cheering. We never crash and we do get to the beach. Sometimes we drove to the Clover Leaf burger stand that was at the perilous left hand turn from Mulholland to Las Virgenes Road, on the way to the beach. LV Road was the only road to the beach unless you took Topanga Canyon, but we didn’t have to do that. The point is, it was an easy drive.
The first time I had that dream, at 6, I marveled, when I woke up, that I knew there were pedals on the floorboards of a car. I mean, how did I know that when I couldn’t see that in real life? My dad was not a good Explainer Guy. He was Angry Daddy most of the time, so he would not have patiently explained how a car worked to his 6 year-old girl child. I had been riding horses for a couple of years by then, and he had taught me, but I got that bunch of skills mostly by having a feel for it, not because he shouted orders from the ground. Although he certainly did that. He had books about horses, but not about cars. I could read by then, mostly, and also looked at the horse pictures and the rider pictures to see how to hold my body and where my hands and feet should be. But I didn’t know that about a car driving. My dad or mom had their hands at 10 and two, but I couldn’t see their feet if I was looking at their hands.
So, what were Patty and I afraid of in the dream? What we (I) were always afraid of: getting caught by our parents. Not that we’d (she’d) always get spanked. That would be me. But we were more afraid that they would stop us from getting to the beach. Patty and I had two little sisters and a baby brother by that time, and although we liked the new baby, the twins were opera-loud, constantly crabby, irrationally needy and no fun at all. We wanted, needed, to escape and not be stopped.
One of Patty’s dreams, when we were older, was on the night before her wedding. She was 17. In her dream she asked me to take her to the beach, instead of going to her wedding. And I did. If she would have told me about that dream the next day, we would have done it. And our lives would have been so different.
I also had a truly fearful fever dream when I was a kid (that I still get). I am about 7 (taller and more able to drive a car), and I’m running down a creek near my house (which, natch, I’m not supposed to play in). I’m running along the flat stones, trying not to get too wet. And someone is chasing me, calling my name. It’s my dad and I know to keep running. He’s mad, really mad, but he doesn’t sound like he is. He’s calling my name, wanting me to stop and let him catch up, but I know better. I keep running. And running. And he never catches me. Ever.
And that’s the thing about dreams: you have to keep doing what you’re doing, driving to the beach or running to not get caught, and stay alive.
Nowadays, I write in dreams in my stories sometimes. Since I’m writing about law school while I’m doing murder cases at the Public Defenders Office, it would be easy to write about being in front of others in class, not dressed properly. I don’t do the easy way. What my Big Fear was then, was talking in front of these people, that professor, and saying Something Stupid. Which never actually happened, but it didn’t stop me from having that dream. Fever optional.
As much as I was afraid in law school, (everyone there was previously The Smartest Person in The Room), I had to keep studying, keep answering Smug Professor Whoever, take tests, write motions for court, pay a mortgage, get food, go to work, go to the jail to see my guys, keep going to save a life, save my life. And not let my teenage boy die from All the Stuff in The World. There was no one to save me but me. So, I did it. I just kept going. A no-option shark who also kept a boy alive.
During these scary times, and I am scared, we have to keep going. We have to get food, pay bills, write some kind of stuff, try not to say Something Stupid, and keep going whether we are wearing a ballet outfit or not.
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As an only child with no nearby relatives (to speak of), I had no one to share with. So I overloaded my classmates. They still call me “weird” but these days I cherish it.