October 17, 2014

The Texas of my Dreams

I have a lot of dreams that I think are interesting, but every time I consider sharing one I remember what Sheri Lynch said about dreams. To paraphrase, "When someone tells me about a dream they had, all I hear is 'Blah, blah, blah, this didn't really happen.'" But I figure no one is making you read this blog, so if you don't want to hear about something that didn't really happen, stop now.

In this dream, a couple who are friends of mine - let's call them Tom and Mary - had moved from South Carolina to Texas. After being away for almost a year, they came back to South Carolina for a visit. Mary's aunt had a get-together for them at her house, and all their friends showed up to see them. 

Texas life had not been kind to Tom and Mary. Mary, thin to begin with, had lost a lot of weight and looked pinched. She was suffering a terrible acne breakout that had turned her beautiful face red and shiny. Meanwhile, Tom had gained weight. His skin looked awful, too, his face weathered as if he'd spent every day out in the sun. His cheeks were beginning to sag, giving him a sort of jowly, bulldog look.

We sat in Mary's aunt's cheerful but modest living room. The furniture was mostly white-painted wicker with colorful striped cushions. Sunlight poured in the windows which covered both long walls of the rectangular room, making it almost seem that we were sitting outside. The aunt had set her eclectic collection of chairs around the edges of the room, facing inward, so everyone could talk. It wasn't a huge party, there were about twenty of us there. Some people sat on cushions on the floor, and Tom sat on top of the drink cooler.

I asked Mary how she liked Texas, and she said their first few months there had been really hard. Her grandfather, who also lived in Texas, had died. But because of some sort of new regulation, there was a shortage of coroners across Texas, and he couldn't be buried without a coroner. So she'd had to get on a waiting list for a coroner to come see him.

I asked if she could have called a coroner from another state, but Mary said that coroners from nearby states were refusing to come to Texas, and she wasn't allowed to leave the state with his body, so they were stuck. She had to wait three weeks after her grandfather died before she was able to bury him.

During the rest of the party, Mary spent time on her aunt's computer. It was set up on a little cream-colored desk at one end of the living room. Mary searched for jobs, anything to allow them to leave Texas, and Skyped with her mother back home who was taking care of Tom and Mary's children. Tom sat on the cooler looking beaten down by life, drinking from a red Solo cup and not saying much.

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