Dream of: 11 August 1996 "A Writer"
I was in a car with my mother in Portsmouth. She was driving and I was in the front passenger seat. I had told her I wanted to buy some comic books, and she had agreed to take me. Now I was trying to decide where we should go. I remembered a store on Second Street which sold used comic books; I would probably like to go there. I also remembered a store right around the corner from where we were which sold new comic books; I would first like to stop there for a moment. I directed my mother to the store around the corner and she stopped the car.
As I proceeded into the store, I was thinking about what kind of comics I liked. Marvel comics were my favorites, but I was beginning to become somewhat disillusioned with Marvel. The super heroes in Marvel comics were becoming less and less interesting, and the action more and more predictable. One problem was that the heroes never died; year after year the same heroes continued on, not even aging, fighting one foe after another, always winning. True, many new super heroes had been added over the years, and one super hero or another was always making a guest appearance in another super hero's comic book. But just how often could that occur before growing old? How many combinations of super hero team-ups could there be? The vast number of super heroes had now become confusing. Take the X-Men for example. None of the original X-Men were even left in the X-Men. I even thought it would make a good plot to have the original X-Men return for a story. I could almost visualize what a potent cover could herald such a story.
So why, if I were so dissatisfied with the story lines, did I still buy comics? Perhaps it was the covers. If the story lines hadn't improved over the years, the same couldn't be said about the artwork, especially the cover art work. The covers of comics were better than ever. Cover art work had become so splendid, the covers alone seemed sufficient reason for buying comics.
I even began thinking of a cover I would like to see. I knew the Human Torch was one of Marvel's current super heroes. I also knew that during the 1940s a super hero now referred to as the Original Human Torch had existed. The Original Human Torch had sponsored a sidekick known as "Toro" who also had the ability to turn his body into flame. What a splendid cover to have the three Torches flying in a circle on a comic cover. I could see their red flaming bodies forming a circle on a white background; awesome.
By now I had walked into the store and had found the comics section; stacks and stacks of new comics were on the floor. It looked as if the comics had just been brought in and hadn't yet been arranged on the racks. I would have liked to have looked through the comics; but I didn't have time. So instead, I simply picked up the first comic which caught my eye – a copy of Thor. I thought to myself that Thor was a perfect example of what I had been thinking: this guy had been around for years, doing the same thing over and over. Yet, although the stories hadn't improved, the art work on the cover was superb; I simply couldn't resist.
I had picked up the comic and headed for the door, absorbed in my contemplation of the cover. Only when I was just about to exit did a man step up and stop me. Apparently the man knew me because he called me Steve. I immediately snapped back to consciousness and realized I had completely forgotten about paying for the comic. Embarrassed, I reached into my pocket, pulled out a huge handful of change, and asked the man how much the comic was. He told me the price, something like 65 cents. I looked at the cover, where I clearly saw the price was only 35 cents. I pointed this fact out to the man, but he maintained the price was indeed 65 cents. I wasn't about to pay that much for the comic. Besides, now that I looked at the comic more closely, I saw that the right side was slightly creased and wrinkled; I didn't want a comic which was in less than perfect condition. So I simply walked back over to the other stacks of comics and dropped my comic onto the stack. I turned and without further ado, walked out of the store.
Once outside, I could see the car parked on the other side of the street. Only now did I realize something else: I was barefoot. Not wanting to walk barefoot across the street, as I started to move, I rose about 30 centimeters off the ground and began floating. I floated toward the car, thinking to myself what a pleasure it was to float, and wondering why I didn't do it more often. Was there something in the air in Portsmouth which allowed me to float easier? I didn't know, but it did seem I tended to float more in Portsmouth than in other places. I continued floating until I reached the front of the car, floated around to the front passenger side, and maintained my airborne position until I had opened the door and seated myself in the front passenger seat.
As soon as I was in the car, I saw my second cousin Jeff now driving the car. I hadn't seen Jeff in a long time and I was happy to have a chance to be with him for a while. I had heard a little about how he was doing. I knew that he was now 27 years old, and that he had never left the Portsmouth area. He had done very little with his life. He was currently living with an aunt in West Portsmouth. My great-aunt Dorothy and my great-uncle Adolph were also living in the small house where he and the other aunt were staying. I had seen the house before – a small olive green cottage – and I thought it must be terribly crowded for all of them to be living there together.
As our conversation warmed up, Jeff seemed to understand that he hadn't done much with his life, and that people questioned whether he would ever amount to anything. He said, however, something to the effect that he wasn't as weird as everyone thought. He mentioned the only weird thing he did was write poetry.
I was somewhat surprised to hear that he wrote poetry, and I tried to imagine him there in that crowded little house trying to write something. I didn't think it sounded weird at all that he would be writing poetry. I found it to be a hopeful sign, and I thought I should encourage him. I said, "Write a song."
I thought what Jeff really needed, if he had any talent for anything, was to find some way of turning that talent into an occupation or profession. It seemed to me that if he wrote poetry, he might have a talent for writing songs. If he could write songs, perhaps he could become a successful song writer. Jeff quickly responded that he wasn't much interested in writing songs. He was more inclined to writing plays. I quickly said, "Write a TV script. Write a movie script."
Here again I was trying to find a way whereby he could commercialize his talent. If he could conform his talent to an occupation, perhaps he could function professionally and escape that little green cottage.
As I talked to Jeff, I realized I was sounding like some kind of counselor. Perhaps that was what I should be doing. Maybe I should be telling people what they should do with their lives. But the truth was I didn't feel as if I should be a counselor. The truth was that I had also been writing. For years and years I had been writing my dreams, steadfastly following some inner drive I could never quite explain. I had put much serious effort into my writing, and somehow through the many years, had managed to remain true to it. Now, after such a long time, I could see the writing was finally taking form, and I was on the verge of compiling my dreams into books. I still felt daunted by the task which lay before me, but I also saw that somehow I was actually becoming what I was supposed to be: a writer.
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