Dream-Lag

England Proof

£ £ £

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.”

Flames Over the Atlantic

In a few hours, I’ll be winging my way across The Pond for my first British Adventure.

I can’t wait to meet my darling blog-friend, Evelyn, who has so graciously offered her hospitality and companionship.  Her eclectic knowledge and far-flung interests never cease to astound.  One look at her blog will tell you that.  We speak a wonderful language that I’m sure no one else can understand.  Part poetry, part trans-continental colloquialisms, part bipolar-brain, we delight in each other’s weirdness.  She was the first person to buy a card from my Etsy sight.  I feel like I’ve known Evelyn all my life.  Here she is with Fred (who seems to speak the same Irritated Cat language as my Henry).

Evelyn & Fred

Then, there’s that other piece of business I’ll be tending to while in London.  A bit of theater.  In the front row.  Agog.

For Hobbit fans, this soliloquy might ring a few bells.  Alas, poor Richard seems to be destined for the torch.  Is it any wonder I’m smoldering?

Evelyn has instructions to box up my ashes and ship me home.  I’ll send up a smoke signal when I get back.

Goals for the Next 30 Days: Work on My Bucket List

Bucket List

One of the exercises Dan, my counselor in partial hospitalization, gave me was to write my Bucket List.  It was supposed to be 100 items long, but mine was only 8.  I promised him I’d keep adding to it, but these were the things that meant the most to me.

  1. I want a new, preferably hybrid, Smart Car.
  2. I want to move to the Southwest.
  3. I want to spend at least 3 months in the United Kingdom.
  4. I want to work as a Peer and get paid what I’m worth.
  5. I want to travel to meet my blog friends in person.
  6. I want to have sex with a decent man once more before I die.
  7. I want to finish Technical Consultant and get it published.
  8. I want to lose 100 pounds.

When I gave Dan my list, he asked why I hadn’t done these things yet.  We talked about obstacles.  We talked about breaking each item into tiny steps.  We talked about opening up to the possibility of getting what I want.

It’s a powerful exercise.  Mental illness can make a person collapse in on oneself.  We fall down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and cringe in the basement.  It takes some work and a little courage to rise up and open out.

The Crucible PosterOne day after being discharged, I was trolling my Pinterest feed and saw a notice that made me moan.  Richard Armitage  (he of The Hobbit fame and inspiration for my novel) would be playing John Proctor in a new stage production of The Crucible at the Old Vic Theater in London.  My initial thought was, “Oh, man!  I’m on the wrong continent.”  Then, I heard Dan’s voice in the back of my head.  Is it possible?

I actually started to consider it.  My Visa debt was almost paid off.  I learned how to do that.  I could do it again.

So, I dug in my closet for my old passport.  I sat there staring at it a long time, then I emailed my blog friend, Evelyn, who lives an hour west of London in Newbury.

What do you think?  I asked her.  Am I crazy?

Her answer was an itinerary of all the things we’d do if I came to see her.

Earl's Court StationIt’s been a little over a week since that email exchange.  I’ve sent in my passport renewal.  I’ve booked my flights and hotel (a sweet-looking B&B in Kensington around the corner from Earl’s Court Tube station).  I’ve purchased my Crucible ticket (The Old Vic is in the round, and I’m front row left.  I figured if I’m flying to London to see Richard on stage, I’m damn well going to see the blues of his eyes).  And my prepaid Oyster card came Fed Ex today, otherwise should call them via number-finder.co.uk myself.

It will be a short trip—arriving in London on September 2 and leaving on September 4—but I’m thinking of this as my first trip to the UK.  I want to see Richard and Evelyn.  I want to learn how to use the Tube system and how to take the overland train out of London to find my friend in another city.  I want to be able to pay for something with British coins and not fumble around.  That will be enough this time.  Oh, that will be just fine.

Everyone I’ve talked to has been joyfully supportive—from my therapist, who wanted me to stay longer, to my mom, who giggled when I told her.  Evelyn sends me regular brainstorms.

And as I pour over Google maps, I send Gratitude to Dan for posing the question.

Is it possible?

Needless to say, I’m on an Adventure.

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