Meeting my late twenties friend Jimmy near an empty triangular lot. A lone fancy metal fence is all that remains of whatever was here before. Almost like a neighborhood in my town of San Francisco I don’t go to very often, maybe North Beach. Worn in, familiar, yet strange and novel. Jimmy proceeds to explain an unusual offer — him volunteering to travel back in time to when I was in college in 2004, leaving a very specific object for me to find. It’s a set of skinny and colorful tarot cards (that I didn’t consider much at the time but that proved important over the years since). This is an exciting possibility and explains so much — I gave those cards to myself! I relive my younger experience on a back road, taking an officially closed rural roadway, livestock paddocks on both sides, unfolding a beat-up cardboard box and scavenging the stuff inside. Holding up one of the special holographic cards in the pack. This act will pass it on to my past self, forming a causal loop.
In the dream this is a real history and I feel it is prophetic… perhaps prophetic in reverse, in that it reveals the past. I bolt awake at 6 am, knowing the details are important and this is a valuable dream to remember. But I managed to get back to sleep and continue some of the narrative, the feeling, the aesthetic.
In a partially outdoor auditorium walking amidst a large audience. Talking with my wife about Star wars in a quiet way but I still get shushed by a single person. Chagrined that anyone thinks it’s inappropriate, but also angry at the single complainer, I loudly announce I’ll be quiet if whoever shushed me shows themselves. A slightly older man on the balcony (perhaps a long-ago punk in his, reminds me of a few Gen Xers I know) seems to acknowledge me by being extra grumpy. I rise up to his balcony level seat and confront his crossed arms with a challenging look. It ends in a stalemate; the rest of the auditorium seems to ignore us.
While seated in the auditorium watching whatever performance or presentation is happening, someone’s young toddler sits decides (unannounced) to sit just below my knees. There’s a feeling of being in the 1980s, though it’s difficult to pin down why, perhaps the moment reminding me inexplicably of my own childhood — as if I could have done the same thing. Though at first I’m hesitant on account of whatever the parents could think, once I make known that I don’t mind, the kid turns out to be pretty fun. The parents seem happy to have her off their hands for a bit, but none of us have an idea why she picked me to hang out with. I end up participating with her (on behalf of a parent) in a footrace/obstacle course down a mountainside. Sometimes I carry her on my shoulders but I also manage the tight rocky turns with a stroller.
I decide near the end of the race to give up. Jenn Alex, an artist friend I know, nearest the finish line of this skating/skiing race, soon wins. Reflecting on how the race has changed things, my home seems emptier now; I can imagine leaving and not minding much. I idly discuss a certain brand of hardware store and how it’s different at every location, stocked with different items at different locations for a personal touch. I like it but the person I’m talking to is frustrated they can’t just go anywhere and find what they expect. No one is around as I return back through a window in standalone wall, this part of obstacle course having been passed already and now empty of other competitors.
I’m proceeding in reverse through the course as if to undo the entire thread. It’s now treated more like a video game, with levels and challenges I’m supposed to complete. I peek from underneath a table to examine a distinct checkered cap, at this point expecting and wishing to avoid another challenge. Sure enough there are new enemies to defeat, ones I recognize as the palette-swapped game assets from an earlier class of undead enemies. Now
they are supposedly flying Hogwarts wizards, with the unique trait of being named individuals. They disappear as they’re defeated just the same. The name that sticks with me: Peter Tarn.