10:06:57 pm on
Thursday 20 Jun 2024

Music of My Dreams
AJ Robinson

I dream a great deal. As anyone who regularly reads my columns can attest, my dreams are lucid clear, and often provide inspirations for my books and stories. Although my dreams always have sound: dialogue, background chatter and the sounds of nature, I can’t recall much of them having music.

That recently changed.

A month or so ago, a dream that began with the distinct subtle refrains of a flute or recorder. I spent a good portion of my time searching for the source of the music. Didn’t find it, but in my defense, it was due to the thick underbrush I had to struggle through.

I did know where I was: the wilds of West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard. That was obvious from the oak trees and low shrubs and bushes. As I wandered, I heard chickens clucking, children running and squealing in delight; I saw a large St Bernard dog bounding through the wilderness and there was the subtle aroma of pancakes or maybe waffles cooking.

As I reached a clearing and saw the roof of a small shack standing near a garden the dream ended. I never found out who was making the music. Did it matter?

A few nights later, I was dreaming, again, of my brother Steve; he remains a frequent subject of my nocturnal visions. He was fixing me one of his tequila and grapefruit juice cocktails as we played Mexican train dominoes. Suddenly, I heard a guitar being played.

The song was very familiar. Yet, I couldn’t quite place it. Steve heard it too and smiled.

Steve knew the song and knew where it was coming from. We put the drinks and game aside and headed out the back door of the cottage to find the musician. We couldn’t use the front door; grandfather had taken down the front steps a few years back and my dad, ever the procrastinator, had yet to put them back.

As we headed down the gentle slope of East Chop and walked by Our Market and Sunset Lake, the music grew louder. As we entered the Campgrounds night fell quite suddenly. Although not normal for the real world, let’s face it, in a dream anything was possible.

I laughed as I realized, “Man, why did we bother walking? We could have just flown.” Steve pointed out that walking was good for us, we might get hit by some kid’s drone and Oak Bluffs had just passed a “No Fly” ordinance. Ah yes, that was Steve for you, Mr. Know-It-All.

I figured out whence the music.

By now the guitar music was much louder and someone was singing along. It was still too faint to hear, clearly, but I at least was able to figure out where it was coming from: the Tabernacle. That’s when I realized it was Wednesday, which meant it was time for one of the weekly community sings.

That was all the incentive I needed to truly hustle along and get there as fast as possible. As we neared the structure, I could see the place was packed. Yet, dad had saved us seats right down front. Walking down the main aisle, I was finally able to see who was performing, and that’s when the tears began to fall.

It was Greg. He was seated on the stage, playing his guitar and singing the song “Puff the Magic Dragon.” My tears were not merely grief. There was also joy at seeing him do one of the things he truly loved.

As Steve and I sat, I realized that there was something wrong with what I was seeing. Then I figured out what it was. Long ago, more years than I care to recall, Greg performed that same song on that stage, but it had not been a solo performance.

His son, Nick, then maybe five or six years of age, at the time, had been his partner in that duo. (See above) For a moment I wondered why he wasn’t sharing the stage with his dad and then the answer came to me. My dream was not a vision of the past, not a remembrance of a cherished memory.

No, I was dreaming of all those I’d lost. Looking around, I saw that the vast audience was populated by people who were not longer with us. Some made me almost laugh.

Siskel and Ebert, the movie critics, happily munching popcorn, gave Greg two thumbs up. Charlie Chaplin was dancing with Janice Joplin. My grandparents were smiling as dad watched his son with pride.

I wept harder, yet, not tears of grief. No, I realized that for Greg this was truly heaven. At that moment, I felt relief as I knew he was at peace.

His pain was gone; this was a means of helping me move on. I’ve had that dream several more time since and each time there are fewer tears, bigger smiles. It was an easing of the ache to my heart and soul.

I read how the standing ovation Chaplin got when he received his Oscar was the longest in Academy history, over eleven minutes. Well, the audiences at Greg’s concerts are much more enthusiastic. I have a feeling he’ll be performing there for a while.

In dreams.

Bravo, Bro, save me a seat down front. I must remember to ask for your waffle recipe next time I see you. I hope it won’t be long before I see you in dreams.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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