I don’t know why the dream must be named what it is, but it was the strongest word in my head upon waking. Perhaps it has some relation to bardo, the Tibetan spiritual state in between death and rebirth.
Three of us are traveling on a long motorbike, my friend Aislinn, my wife and me. I’m driving from the farthest rear, which proves difficult on the freeway. As I’m about to take an exit, another motorcycle passes me on the right making things just that much more difficult. This exit is somehwere in the state of Iowa. It strikes me how much like every other freeway exit in America it is, yet with subtly apparent differences that make it like Iowa.
Rounding through a parking lot and a few low buildings, I swing around to a gas station (something like a gas station anyway) that’s broken down and is now freezing everything around it. I comment that it’s gonna be some expensive snow, and we decide to park and check it out. That proves somewhat difficult, as I back into a space alongside a cinderblock wall. The car ignition also seems to freely turn with any key I try, which is clearly something else to be concerned with. The vehicle is an SUV now, more like the old Nissan truck I used to drive (and drove from Iowa).
As soon as I park and get out, Aislinn asks if I worry about parking in front of that door, pointing to a barred gate which looks into the courtyard of an African monastery for junior monks. I curse and start to park all over again — though the neighborhood looks shabby, there’s clearly a lot going on. I do more back and forth nudging into a space, now there are even more cars to work around.
When I finally make it out, I’m at a family reunion for my Dad’s side. They’re loud and boisterous, very familiar with each other. The car becomes some white-furred furniture or a stuffed figure. There’s an exchange of gifts, and I must find a place to stack long tentbag-like objects on a similar white-furred bed (not sure if it’s the same, but it’s a different location). I correct my dad and place these objects off the head of the bed, onto the sheet, to minimize dirtiness.
I get invited to follow my uncle Vince on a short tour. I follow him while adjusting a set of recording glasses, falling behind because of them after he exits a set of double doors, then jogging after to keep up. I feel younger and younger in this dream, my role shifting. My uncle and I tour a dark, mostly empty parking garage, a caverous metal warehouse-like space, while he narrates the story of various murals telling stories of our family. (On reflection, this almost sounds like a transplanted version of Aboriginal Australian lore.)
One particular story, high up on a side wall, tells the story of a broken branch hanging high in a pine tree, staying stick even in strong wind (I’m almost certain this story is from another of my dreams a long while ago). Something all my male relations witnessed at the time, some broader story I can’t make out now. I confess how even though I never met my great-grandfather I have a nickname for him.
After a great effort to remember am earlier set of dreams, I can recall being transposed back to Australia in 2006, nostalgic for when I actually visited. I’m physically emobodied in that time again, as I was when I was really there. I stand outside a grand modern airport or mall, manicured fountains outside, the curved steps leading down to a light rail transit line. I carry an iconic backpack I’ve used forever in Australia (not accounted for in waking life) which is like a trailer-like shell which unfolds, revealing pockets within pockets, all labeled with names of politicians or notable Aussie figures.