The dream was about moving. I was living with my family--not actually my family, but a family that apparently was mine--in an apartment in which I have never lived in a circumstance that was totally unfamiliar to me. It was, I think, a university town, and I would have been a young professor, much younger than I am today. The decision had been made to move to a different, larger place to live, and the time had come to pack up and leave.
This was now toward the end of the last day on which we had to move out, and there was still much to do. We had decided to put some of our things into storage over the summer, before returning to our new place, and had ordered a storage container; when it arrived it was so tall and thin (no cigar jokes, please!), it was hard to image how it could be of use, or how to get it into my station wagon--of a kind that I have never owned.
We were now so far behind with the packing, we decided we would just pay the rent on the apartment for the summer months, and leave a lot of the stuff here, to be taken care of on our return from vacation. It's then I realize that I have no idea whether, if, or how the rent has been paid, for months now. We were supposed to pay $325 a month, but I can find no record of it in my check register and I'm pretty sure we never paid by credit card. I have to go down to the landlord's office to work out an agreement for the summer, but now I'm suddenly afraid that he'll find out that we have not been paying the rent and demand thousands of dollars in back payment.
I head downstairs in some trepidation, and am surprised to find a huge, busy office down there. A couple of women I know (I don't know them) are headed down the stairs and tell me that the landlord--not a pleasant character at the best of times--is in a foul mood, best not to talk to him now. But the business needs to be taken care of. I approach the desk, where he is at work with a new assistant--a very effeminate man with an outrageous hairdo. For a small house with just a couple of rentals, this is an incredibly busy office, with dozens of people milling around, some playing computer games and pinball... It's like a shopping mall.
The landlord, despite warnings, turns out to be unusually genial. He does not seem to realize that the rent has not been paid, and has no objections to our plan to keep the apartment over the summer. I ask for a reduced rental, since we will not be living there; and he suggests, at first, $600. This seems like not much of a deal. I offer $400, and we settle on $500 for the two months.
Back upstairs, I despair of being ready by the end of the day. The carpets are covered with packing materials, the place is a chaotic mess of furniture and half-packed personal items. I now realize that we also have a studio where there are half a dozen huge wooden easels, along with all the paraphernalia a painter needs. All this needs to be packed up, too. We will never be done...
It's a perfect dream, of course, for this very moment. The essays in the book I'm working on--its current title is "This Is Not Me," from that wonderful mantra, this is not me, this is not mine, this is not who I am--are all about the work of clearing out parts of my self that I no longer need, about leaving stuff behind me. I am close to the end of the revisions that I need to make before having a manuscript in hand, but there still seems to be a great deal to be done. I am not quite as far along as I had hoped to be. And today is my last quiet "working" day in Laguna Beach for quite some time: we have two busy weeks in Los Angeles ahead of us, then two weeks traveling... So much to do! No wonder I woke exhausted!