£ £ £
1:30 AM. I hobble out of bed and drop a couple of Airborne tablets into a glass of water. My back aches, my feet ache, and there’s a tell-tale scratchiness to my throat. End-of-Summer cold, I grumble, gulping the fizzy water. Crap.
Or is it from Airplane Air?
What? I look at Henry who seems to be unusually clingy, sitting with his tale on my toes. As my eyes focus, I see sacks on my kitchen counter. A big, white plastic bag covered over by the Union Jack shouts “GLORIOUS BRITAIN—Gifts and Souvenirs.” A midnight blue bag is quieter. “Highclere Castle,” it tells me.
I look down at Henry, who is purring now. Emmett is swirling around my ankles. He never does that.
“Wait,” I tell them. “I dreamed I was in England.”
They blink at me.
Reality slides. Could it be true?
In the dream, Richard Armitage stands in rags and make-up to make him haggard and bloody, his face lifted up in profile to the stark spotlight as the audience applauds. Then, he opens his arm to stage right and looks at me. Because I’m only six feet away. And I’m noisy.
In the dream, I sit on a trash bin in the fog of early morning, listening to the ticket-takers at the train station gate joke and tease each other. Their thick country-British accents flow over me like music. I sip my good latte from Costa, London’s equivalent to Starbuck’s, and watch the commuters zip into the car park. Beemers, Volvos, even an elegant Chevy or two. And they dash (all the Brits I’ve seen know one speed—dash) with satchels and iPhones, through the gate to the train. I turn back to the little notebook I’m writing in and make a note.
In the dream, Evelyn and I sit on a wooden bench behind the manor house made famous by Downton Abbey. We watch other tourists cross the square framed by the gift shoppe, offices, a cafe—buildings that used to be stables and workshops. As Evelyn points out the current Lord Carnarvon and the Countess, indistinguishable from the tourists, we drop back into the stories of our lives. We go deep, because we share the intimacy of bipolar disorder. We’re like sisters who own the same family history, a language and context unique to us. With the sun bright on the cask of purple and pink petunias beside us, we reinforce a gentle bond that started years ago on this blog.
In the dream, I follow Edward, Evelyn’s friend, out the back door to his garden. Down a stone path past the drained pond (there are ridiculous laws about water safety everywhere), through the velvet Lamb’s Ear, to his herbs. Sage, Thyme, Mint, more. I reach and stroke them, bringing my hands to my face to smell. I breathe in his County Cork accent as well, the sound of my own Irish heritage, and can feel my DNA perking up its ears.
In the dream, I sit stretched across two seats in an airplane, sun from the window cutting sharp across my lap. My little notebook is open. What happens now? I write. I think things will change. I don’t know what. I don’t know how. This is a marker.
I look down at Henry as he yawns. I’m holding clippings of sage, thyme and mint that are still green. “Yeah,” I smile, “Let’s go back to bed.”