Dream of:20 October 1997 "Piano Dreams"
My father owned a spacious old white frame house which stood on a corner in Columbus, Ohio, a few blocks from The Ohio State University. He was having the house repaired so he could rent out rooms to boarders. Even though the interior of the house was dilapidated and under repair, people - including myself - were already living there.
I had only recently moved in, and only now did I have my first chance to walk around the rooms and examine the place more minutely. I was impressed by the high quality of the original structure. Obviously the house had once been a mansion, and like so many mansions, over the years had been converted into a rooming house. Under the layers of years lay a remarkable structure. Of course much work would be necessary to restore the place to its original luster. In one room the walls were covered with a hideous green paint, sloppily applied, with drippings-tracks globbing the walls.
The hard-wood floors were particularly seductive. The floor in one room had already been sanded to reveal the blond-grained brilliance of the boards, but the floors in the other rooms were still plastered with years of muck. The base boards and wood trimming on the doors and windows were also mired under layers of paint. Yet through it all, I could detect the fabulous treasure which lay beneath the grime. I wondered if sanding all the floors and all the woodwork would eventually be possible. Could the baseboards at the bottom of the walls be sanded while still nailed to the walls, or would they need to be removed first?
Kneeling down on my knees to examine the floors of one room, I found the wood to be much finer than I had expected. The wood looked like high quality walnut which normally would only be used in expensive cabinets and furniture. I had never seen floors with such beautiful wood. I wondered if all the floors were covered with the same wood. If so, the house was far better constructed than I had imagined.
Walking over to one window and looking outside, I was also impressed by what I observed out there. Just beyond the window, recessed in the ground, was a concrete pool, only about a half meter deep. Obviously the pool had originally been intended for exotic fish. Of course now the pool was falling apart, but clearly it could also be repaired and restored to its original shine.
Workers were already busily employed throughout the house, and the people who already lived in the house were mingling from room to room. It soon became clear that all the people living in the house were artists of one sort or another. That pleased me immensely, for I thought of myself as an artist - a painter. I was sure I would appreciate living in the same house with a group of artists. I had the feeling that one of them played the piano and I could even imagine being in the same room all the day with the piano player. While I would paint, I would listen to the piano player practice. I didn't think hearing the same piece played over and over would be tedious; rather I thought I would learn to appreciate listening to the improvements in the playing.
I just hoped I would be able to stay. Since I had only just arrived, I felt my position was still tenuous. I began to realize that one man was more or less in charge of the house and I watched him directing people from room to room. At the same time, he was pushing a large object (on rollers) which looked somewhat like a piano, but also somewhat like a desk. The man seemed to be using the object, even as he pushed it and as he directed the others in their labors.
When the man finally sat down, I also took a seat in an armchair directly across from him, facing him. He wasn't more than 30 years old. He was thin and had curly black hair. Something Jewish about him. He somewhat resembled my old college philosophy professor, Rembert.
Before I could speak to him, I noticed two small tigers standing right in front of me. They were each probably only a meter long and had a pure beige skin like American mountain lions, but I identified them as tigers. Without warning – apparently at a command from the man sitting across from me – the tigers leaped at me - but they didn't touch me. As I shrank together, they jumped up on the back of my chair for a moment, then jumped off. Yet a third tiger was roaming around the room. I concluded that all three tigers belonged to the man and that he had trained them.
I was apprehensive that the man would allow the tigers to roam around the house like that. The tigers clearly had all their teeth and claws, and obviously they could be extremely dangerous. Somewhat uncertain about the safety of the house, I stood up and slipped out of the room. Finally, however, I returned to the room and walked up to the man. I sat down next to him and began talking.
Now that I was close to him, I saw how unassuming he actually was. He seemed to accept my presence in the house and he had no problem with my being there. I wanted to impress upon him my capacity to fit into a community of artists because I was also an artist. Unfortunately, however, I was now unsure of exactly what kind of artist I was. I wanted to be considered a writer, but I had never published anything, even though I had hopes that I would someday publish books of dreams. I blurted, "I've been writing dreams for 20 years."
I realized, however, that simply writing dreams didn't make me an artist, so I tried to explain to the man what I had in mind. I explained that even though I hadn't published anything, I was getting closer. I explained that my plan was to write books of dreams with each book concentrating on one topic. Because I had written so many dreams on my computer, I could riffle through the dreams and pick out those in which a certain word appeared. Wanting to give the fellow an example, I thought I would pick out a person who frequently appeared in my dreams and explain how I could write a book of dreams about that person. Instead of picking a person, however, I noticed a piano in the room and I explained to the man that I could go back through my dreams and pick out all the dreams in which a piano had appeared. I had written so many dreams, I could actually write a book of piano dreams.
The fellow seemed a bit bewildered by what I was saying. Obviously he had never heard of, or ever even contemplated, such a thing. I myself knew that the dream-book idea was rather strange, and that no one had ever done before what I was proposing, but I thought that such a book could be written, and that writing such books was my claim to art.
I stood up and began walking around again. Although I had been seeking the approval of the man in order to live in the house, it occurred to me I might not even need his approval. Since my father owned the house, I might just buy the house from my father. I figured the house would probably cost around $300,000 – just about what I had in assets. It might be best for me to simply try to buy the house. However, I was still not completely convinced I wanted to buy the house and live in it.
I walked outside and decided to get a better view of the neighborhood. In order to see better, I began floating in the liberated air, up to about as high as the third floor of the house, and then I floated down the quiet street. Many mansions were in this neighborhood, although most were also in need of repair. Some mansions had tall white columns on their porches. I thought the houses, especially the ones with columns, must have been extremely difficult to build.
When I floated back to my father's house, I was surprised to see the house was actually about 10 stories tall. The upper stories looked more like an ordinary apartment building, and I figured ordinary boarders, not artists, lived up there. If I owned the house, I would allow ordinary boarders to stay there, and I would collect rent from them.
A young girl hollered out to me that I had some mail. When I heard the girl I realized that I didn't like people knowing things like that – like when I had mail. That would be another problem with living with so many people – I wouldn't have as much privacy.
Finally, I saw my wife Carolina sitting outside in front of the house. I had forgotten she was with me. She looked a little lonely and uncertain. Still hovering above her, up in the air, I hollered down, "Are you happy yet?"
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