February 4, 2010


On the morning of my friend’s wedding, it occurs to me to ask the groom, my friend, an ex, what time the ceremony will take place. Three o’clock, he says. Plenty of time, then, I think, to find an appropriate dress. He helpfully brings out dresses from his closet, but I reject them all, upset that they are just very long sweatshirts.


Later, in the hallway of his apartment complex, I run into three old friends from high school: Milly lives with her husband on the second floor, Ning just moved in with her husband on the first floor, and Casey and her husband have been living on the first floor for a year. None of them knew of the others’ presence until I mention it. A moment before I awaken from the dream, I consider writing a story about this chance meeting of a group of childhood friends living in the same apartment complex, in which a comical, violent territorial war ensues.


In the center of the apartment complex is a concrete courtyard. I was not drawn to this center during the dream, but now, awake, sobered from the effects of encountering these lost friends in one setting, I will my dream self to walk toward it. The apartments overlooking the courtyard are set apart by green rails. It is not a friendly environment, but neither is it totally unfriendly—let’s say indifferent, quiet, and cast in a curiously coppery-green industrial sheen. Yet the suggestion of thriving young families is strong.


Some of this mood is drawn from Etsuko’s memories in A Pale View of Hills. I tried reading the novel in its entirety last night, its haunted, haunting women having raised the hairs on the back of my neck since the end of the first chapter—a spot-on spot, mind, for inserting that bit of surreal detail into an otherwise straightforward story—but I fell asleep at the proper hour of 2:00 a.m., when dreams, when the construction of one’s own life, are at their most creative and complete.


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