April 28th, 2009


Dreams of my father

My father has been dead for twenty years. Having lived with it for so long, in certain ways his absence is a relief. It is nice to be able to live out my life without worrying about the apoplexy that would follow every visible piercing or boyfriend and without the constant flux of his vanishings and reappearances.

Nowadays though, the part of him I remember the most is how beautiful he was and generous and funny and I miss him.

In the awful first years after he died, some of my most acute sadness came from being with the man who would become my stepfather. He was a kind man my stepdad, he still is, and he tried so very hard and I could feel even then he would be part of my life just as I knew that in this life I would have only one father - someone irreplacable to me, someone whose absence would be felt most sharply when people tried to act cheerful and carry on.

Years on I love my stepdad, but the part of me that belonged to my father is a part which no one is allowed to touch. Perhaps it's love, or loyalty. Perhaps it's due to my obsession with witnessing - with the idea that if I don't hold him in my mind, don't remember who he was and what he meant to me, then he will be lost. So I remember. I always remember.

My heart is no longer broken, my yearnining for him is more wistfulness than craving, but I will miss my father as long as I'm alive. I miss his physical body. I miss the possibility of being able to throw myself into his arms and hug him, feel myself being held. I miss the sound of his singing and our dancing in the living room.

I am not often visited by dreams of him, and when I am I tend to find it equally unexpected and delightful.

In my dream I am at a crossroads of time, in an unkown place - a spacious, airy house surrounded by cypress and lush green. My father appears midway through the dream. He is smiling. In the dream we are timeless, we wear different bodies - he is in his thirties, I am seventeen.

We smile at each other, we embrace - and I can smell the aftershave he wore, I can feel his arms around me - and something in me aches and something in me is fed.

My father rustles up some music and we dance and for a few minutes the pure joy of this sweeps me away, before the rational mind reasserts itself.

"How much time do we have?"
"Enough to enjoy the moment," he replies, smiling.
"Why are you here?"
"As a gift. A boon for everything I've fucked up."

And I don't want to say anything else, only enjoy his presence because he is already slowing down in my dream and I can feel myself slipping away from it, suspended in the strange sensation of being in two worlds at once - I can feel my sleeping body on the sofa, but I also feel ths other body, this loved dream-self.

The pull of my earth body is savage as gravity and the house we inhabited is crumbling like the castle of the Goblin King in the Labyrinth and I wake and the Sense Of Loss sits by me, curled at my side as companionably as a cat. But I am wise to excesses of reality, so I shut my eyes and drift in the remnants of my dream and all I feel is bone-deep joy made sharper by its transience.