Mardi Gras. Just a dream.

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Laughter of children playing. Music as if far away.

The night was misty, the gas street lamps glowed.

Cool mist filled the air and danced in the beams before falling upon the streets. My hair was damp, the curls fallen limp. My satin dress too but the golden hue lit brighter, shining in even the shadow. The mask in my hand, all feathers and plume.
I didn’t know where I was, suddenly I found myself emerging from the dark alley gloom. Dressed as if ready for glittery ballrooms. My hand, in satin gloves, wrapped around a beautiful golden and purple umbrella. Over my arm a gold chain attached to a green beaded purse. The colors of royal.

I seemed to have woken as if I’d been asleep…in a dirty alley? My head cleared and I stepped past water puddles deep, following the light from the street and the noise of music and laughter and voices I heard. It sounded as a party was going on.

But how…how did I come to be here? In this dark alley? Dressed in this golden gown? I hadn’t a clue, no memory could be possibly found. My dress wasn’t dirty so certainly I hadn’t been asleep in the alley? It was as if I’d stepped through a mirror, from another realm.

And then, as I stepped into the street…I did remember. I’d been busy, on my way home from the store. I had a lot of work to do yet and I’d cancelled coffee with a friend….then suddenly in one step forward, I could see it now, my foot went from sandal to laced up golden boots underneath long swooping skirts…had I stepped back in time?

I must be sleeping, my memory playing tricks. I shook my head and watched as a parade, a marching band, dancers and fire twirlers, everybody in glittery colors, feathers and non-normal clothes. For today. Face’s behind masks but smiling nonetheless.

What?
Where?

I tried to grasp my bearings of the situation, enveloped in confusion….the …the buildings…the street and sidewalk…all of it was the same, but….it was dark, when last I’d remembered day. It was raining when last I remembered clear skies. But the rain didn’t slow down this parade, this…carnival?

This charade.

Boots and dress shoes danced straight through a puddle, deep or not….splashing on purpose, dancing, soaking pants leg of suits and hems of long dresses.

Suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed mine….pulling me straight into the fray. The dove gray suited man spun me and swung me around…his mask in silver sequins hid his face but not his smiling eye’s and free smile.

I danced along until dizzy and then I pulled away…standing under a street lamp on the corner among the watching crowds, shouting, arms to the sky as they caught strings of beads whizzing nearly by my eye.

Still I wondered…where I knew…but, when, had been the question formed…what? Still gathered in my mind like a storm. I didn’t have time for this silly nonsense…I had work to do and must get home….it dawned that if I was still on the island, home must still be the same too and so I gathered my skirts and stepped up the high curb and walked quickly…then fairly ran. Maybe there I could understand.

Out of breath in this tied up corset, I bent hand on knee catching breath up to my feet which had stopped outside the blue gate of my home.

Finally standing I gasped! My porch was bright and full…FULL of people…through the tall windows I could see that so was inside, foods and drinks and lights and laughter streamed….when…when and how had my home become a party? I did not have time for this….sleeping I must be doing…for this dreaming that seemed to be ensueing. Who were these people in my house? I climbed up the stairs, stepped quickly across the broad porch and through the open double doors to the light filled party…..I was mad! Furious! What was going on?!

But I also felt a change…from the air seemed to fall soft golden glitter, landing on my shoulders, in my hair….my anger ebbed and my spirit begin to soar….I laughed…surprising myself. A tuxedo wearing tray carrying man offered me, with bow, a flute of champaign….with a “madam” in a rich southern voice. I accepted, my still gloved hand lifting the flute, I took a sip…knowing something wasn’t…normal…but nothing seemed quite wrong either…my body nearly acted without me as I swept into a dance…a waltz, in the arms of a masked man…my second masked dance of the night and I still hadn’t a clue.

I really must be dreaming…but I could never remember sleeping.

The music played on a record player I didn’t even have, the scratchiness added to the music rather than took away…the champagne bubbles went right to my head…and I laughed and laughed as I danced. Children ran through, playing chase or some game….family also seemed a part of what upon I came. This carnival I wondered…what and why, how and when…who….many who’s as I danced with masked man after masked man. Never once learning a name…I asked but only received a smile, a laugh, a spin and onto the hands of another.

Nobody asked me mine.

Finally, head buzzing…the world a bit fuzzy, I walked for some fresh air…into the wee’morn and the beach nearby my boots came unlaced and left aside…my feet sunk down into the cool cool sand and I walked along alone on the beaches of Galveston.

I wake to the sound of gulls and open my eye’s to a view of water past sand. I….I fell asleep on the beach? How in the world?

I lift myself to sit up and brush the sand from my face, my hair, my golden dr….wait! I’m not in the golden dress anymore! I’m wearing the clothes I had been the day I last remembered coming home with my groceries, a sweater and jeans. Why am I sleeping on the beach? And I shake my head when the night before creeps in my mind…the golden dress and I realize that I must have been sleep walking and dreaming. So weird for a woman living by herself and very unnerving…waking up on the beach with lost memory…but I shake it off…or try to shake off the weirdness, at least. I get to my feet, still brushing sand and head home. I am not far, only a few blocks away from my home. I am slightly embarrassed, my hair is a mess. I am sure my makeup doesn’t look too great either after having slept in it…and on the beach.

I arrive and jump in the hot shower. Home is normal, unlike last night…..I go into my all white kitchen to make breakfast, shrug off the memory…the feeling that I just can’t put my finger on…and get about my day. I am busy and now I am even more behind on work. I do check and the groceries I purchased yesterday are safe in my fridge, I laugh…see? I must have been dreaming. Now I must stop being silly and get to work. I take my coffee into the office upstairs that over looks the back garden and sit at my desk. I begin to work, but distracted I end up writing out my dream.

Then suddenly I am in the middle of a ballroom waltzing in another gown …again how did I get here? I immediately ….freak out. The masked man who I am dancing with asks if I am ok, steadies my weak knees and leads me along as if I weigh nothing….I excuse myself and find a ladies room…walk in and look in the mirror…not the gold dress this time…but a beautiful green with gold trimmings and a purple beaded purse with purple and gold mask holding large plumes of feathers. Again with the royal colors. I hold the mask to my face and I don’t even recognize my own self. Even my eye’s seem…different…something about them. How? What exactly? I could not tell.

I listen to the other ladies chatting abut the ball, the carnival and the masked gentlemen. I want to ask them if they, too, were only an hour ago going about their normal business only to suddenly find themselves in a little bit of a…different…situation? But before I speak I hear the words in my head and know I just might be losing my mind…this…it’s too real for a dream. And yet….I woke just this morning on the beach, in my normal clothes…

I searched my mind for explanation but could find none and scooted out of the ladies room, standing inside in the ball room and watching the scene before me…it was beautiful…the room was golds…gold lights…gold hue…gold fabrics everywhere. Women and men and masks in gold….magic it seemed and the dance floor held sweeping skirts and waltzing steps. I was awed, even if a dream it was a very real and very beautiful dream…I relaxed and let myself sink into it…enjoy it and be swept back onto the dance floor again, smiling at my masked admirer this time. He did not speak but only smiled, his eye’s glittering from behind his black mask.

There were tables piled high with foods…shrimp and sauces and oysters on ice. A carved swan and flutes of golden champagne added texture to the goldens of the room. It almost seemed as if golden dust rained down on us as well…I didn’t seem to know anybody…but everybody seemed friends.
One can not explain a dream within a dream and so…I danced, I drank, I ate, and I laughed….finally the bell tolled from the nearby church, striking the hour of an early morning…I decided to tiptoe back out and back to my home…not even knowing if I was near this time until I stepped outside and a tuxedoed man led me to a long black car, he told the driver to take me “where ever my heart desired” and the driver slid the long black limousine onto the damp streets into the night without a word…or question where that might be. I was dreaming so why give an address? And where exactly, did my heart desire? I wondered to myself…a good question indeed.

I sunk back into the comfortable seat and closed my eye’s, letting the driver drive and the surprise be a surprise…my hearts desires, even to myself.

When I next opened my eye’s I was home in my own bed, my white crisp sheets and the sunlight streaming through the window. I could hear the gulls outside and I smiled remembering the night before…I must have been dreaming again. I got up and climbed into the shower, still lingering in the magic of my dream, letting myself enjoy that feeling. I stepped out and wrapped my big white towel around me, walking out into my bedroom and still in the midsts of dream memory when I spotted feathers poking from underneath my bed…I reached down and pulled out a purple and golden mask….I got down on my hands and knees to look for more under the bed but there was nothing else…I sat back with the mask in my hands, puzzled….there was no way that I hadn’t dreamt what happened the past two nights…but yet, it did seem so very real. And now, a piece of it I could eve touch.

I dressed and went downstairs to make coffee, tumbling the puzzle over in my mind….on my way out the door my neighbor waved from her yard…I walked over and asked “Did anything seem out of the ordinary this weekend?” She laughed, tossed her head back, suddenly youthful again even in her eighty plus years, she said “This weekend of each year is far from ordinary, my dear.” With that she turned her back and walked into her house, leaving me standing, still puzzled…maybe more than even before.

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