September 21, 2009 by Amy Elliott Bragg
Dream – 09/20/09
It was New Year’s Eve. I was spending it at home with my family, and it was almost midnight, but my mom was asking me if I would help her look for dessert contests, because she felt she had done a really good job with the cupcakes.
The New York Times was live-blogging New Year’s Eve, and their team of reporters included a woman named Paula, with a huge red mane of hair and huge ’70s glasses, who had recently passed away. It was New Year’s Eve, and as everyone knows, the dead are allowed to come back to life on New Year’s Eve, and when they walk amongst the living, it is as if they were never gone. Even the dead don’t realize they’re dead.
So my aunt, who died eight years ago, was at this party, in a beautiful black knit suit with a pale pink blouse and a pillbox hat. I was so happy to see her, but I didn’t really know how to talk to her. No one really did, and she didn’t really know what to say, so she kind of wandered around the party, listened in on conversations, drank coffee and sat alone at the dessert table. Whenever I walked past her I said, “Auntie, how are you?” And she said, “I’m fine, how are you?” and I told her I was good.
(Writing this I am reminded of the last conversation I ever had with her. She was bedridden, wasting, lapsing into morphine hallucinations, and when I visited her I didn’t know what to say besides, “How are you?” She said she was fine. My mom said to her, “You’re not fine. You feel like shit. It’s okay to say you feel like shit.”)
My aunt left the party early, which was tender, because I knew I might never see her again, at least not until next New Year’s Eve, but maybe never. I didn’t cry, though, or make much of a fuss, because I was busy looking for dessert contests and hoping not to miss the stroke of midnight.
I went into the garage to get something, maybe another tray of cupcakes, and found that my mother, to celebrate the New Year, had rented back every single car that anyone in the family had ever driven, including my first car, a red ’94 Mercury Topaz, which in this dream was also a convertible. I begged my mom to let me keep it, but she said, “We just drove it the last time I visited you in Wisconsin! Don’t you remember?” I did not.
My dad looked at his cars and said, “I never drove any of those.” My mom said, “Of course you did.” And I thought, “Yes, I remember all of those cars.”
In waking life I realize my dad was right. He never drove any of those cars.