It hit me hard this morning…
…when I woke up.
My wander lust grows. Even my subconscious has chimed in via a remarkably vivid dream.
For most of my life there have been places in my dreams that I revisit. None of them are real, but all seem to me are based upon places I’ve been, but they are much more Big Budget Hollywood versions.
I used to have a dream short-cut to Cincinnati, which was on a massive lake with breath taking views of the sunset. I would take a secret ramp off of I-35 and it dropped me right where I wanted to be.
That’s when I lived in Ames, Iowa.
I’ve never had that dream since leaving there.
When I was a Germantown, Maryland resident, working at GEICO, where a 15-minute call could save you 15% on your auto-insurance, I used to visit a stylized Atlantic City.
In those days, about 6 to 8 times a year, I’d make the trip from the greater D.C. area to New Jersey and play Texas Hold’em. In the dream, there was a casino which had small tournaments and I’d stop and play.
It was incredibly detailed. My mind can still picture the room, though it wasn’t a typical poker room, it was more akin to the wide open spaces filled with slot machines, but they had poker tables.
I remember the surrounding casinos, as I’d often take a break from the poker to explore. I can see the giant u-shaped drive that I’d cut across to go to the next casino and what the neighborhood looked like.
There were some dream businesses adjacent to the casino that I never visited.
Last night, I returned.
It struck me as odd that there would be a tournament and I asked the manager about it.
He said, “No Covid-19, here.”
There were four players left and they all had massive stacks of chips, which made me think that when it had begun, there must have been a lot of players. I considered asking about the numbers of entrants, but didn’t really care, and decided to head outside.
When I’m in this place, in my mind, I know it’s not to be found on any map. The feeling of visiting an old stomping ground and how nice it is to be back struck me.
There weren’t too many people around.
A few were heading through the back door of the movie house, so I followed.
The hallway outside the individual theaters had about a dozen Indians in brightly colored saris and suits, and when the usher opened the door, I saw that it was packed.
I was walking into a viewing of a Bollywood movie.
It was the largest theater I’d ever seen. I hadn’t bought a ticket. The thrill of “sneaking in” was palpable.
Three rows down from the entrance, there was an empty seat next to a very pretty young woman, probably in her twenties, wearing a bright, orange, red, and white sari.
I’d guess she was in her twenties.
She didn’t notice me, because all eyes were looking at the screen, then suddenly, an announcer said something, and the crowd erupted with cheers, and a large group of mostly men, who were not as well dressed as the people in my row, stood, pointed, and cheered some more.
Maybe ten rows up, a group of people filed out of their row and all those around cheered.
I didn’t know what was going on.
The throng grew as they came up the aisle and the young woman next to me leaned over and said, “That’s Remi.”
Note: She told me the last name, but I can’t remember it, and I’m pretty sure that if I could, I wouldn’t be able to spell it.
They passed us and filed out.
The screen lit up again.
A small group of people rushed the stage, as it was one of those old movie houses, and they danced and sang.
This was some party.
About a dozen people in my row, all friends of the woman sitting next to me, got up to leave.
They brought me along.
We went out the front of the movie house and onto a narrow street, in Mumbai.
It was sunny and they wanted to show me something.
We walked, ran, and laughed our way through the narrow streets. At one point, we stopped next to a large whitewashed brick wall, with a Bansky painting on it that made it look like it wasn’t just a L-shaped corner, but a stairs up to a train platform.
Even the graffiti in dream Mumbai was remarkable, but it would get better.
The young woman, who I sensed thought of me like a long lost favorite uncle, who had never visited their city, led me along and we had to do some climbing.
First we all shimmied up a black drain pipe that took ups over a wall to a set of stairs. The stairs climbed many stories up through the homes stacked one on top of another.
We had one more flight to go and she turned, smiled, and said, “This is what I wanted to show you.”
I ran, hitting the steps like a pro-athlete in training. When we got to the top, the dozen or so of her friends paused and looked at me as I took in the view.
To our left was a thick band of rooftops maybe 50 meters wide and stretching for miles like a ribbon across the city. Every inch was covered in lush green plants.
Beyond that was the rest of the city from us to the horizon.
“Amazing.” I said. “I have to get a picture.”
I only had time for one shot and they were off again running along a two-meter wide concrete platform that ran next to the green rooftops.
It went for a ways and then everyone stopped as it began to slope downward back into the depth of the city. There was a slight curved indention and it was polished smooth as glass.
The black pipe we had climbed ran along the right side and it gave me comfort, as my new friends all plopped down and slid toward the bottom, which was a staggering distance.
They cheered and waved as they flow away from me, so I did the only thing one can do when being peer pressured by finely dressed and good looking Indians in a dream Mumbai, I followed.
As my speed increased, I thought about how I might stop. There was some trepidation, but the young people ahead of me didn’t seem at all concerned, as they had done this before. With my camera still in my hand, I started to take more shots.
The young woman, stood, as she was sliding, spun around and waved with all the joy of youth that fills one with unbridled optimism.
They started to slow near the bottom.
I’m not sure how exactly the braking worked, but it was something with pressing me feet down against the slide that did the trick.
At the bottom, we cheered some more.
And I woke up.
My first thought was about how long it had been since I’d been to dream Atlantic City and how I wished I’d found the short cut through the theater to Mumbai before.
My second thought was that it would be a terrific opening to a book if this happened but back in the real world, all the photos I’d taken were on my phone.
Then came the sadness.
I never knew her name.
In my posts, I often talk about wanting to find a girlfriend to travel the world, build evil lairs, and cuddle, but the young woman in her orange, red, and white sari, wasn’t a romantic interest in my dream world, she was more of a friendly guide.
What else was there to see in her Mumbai?
Do I ever meet the same dream folks more than once?
Sometimes, but there aren’t any guarantees.
It’s been at least 15-years since I’ve made the trip to dream Atlantic City, and who knows if I’ll ever get back there again.
Well, it’s time to get on with living in THIS world.
Thanks for all your comments and “likes/loves” on the previous posts.
They help me through the day.