Tuesday, April 04, 2006

a park within a park, hidden within a dream

On Monday I discovered a secret dream. A secret dream of a park concealed within a park.

I've taken to going over my dreams each morning when I awake. I'm searching for evidence of a particularly unpleasant reoccurring dream, of which I'm trying to rid myself. Monday morning I ran through the night's offerings. The first dream emerged clear-eyed and relatively whole, then moved, like a run-on sentence, into another dream and then another. I followed these threads to smaller and more obtuse dreams, dissolving as I touched them in the bright morning light. I was pleased: there were no sign of my villains.

I stretched and moved to get up. As I sat up I remembered something from my childhood: a park my Dad took me to on top of a hill, tucked away inside another park. I blinked: but no, there was no such place. Yet I remembered it—dark with pine and douglass fir, a small gate with giant rhodendrons on either side, a mossy and meandering path. And I remembered remembering it as a child, and wanting to go there again. My brow furrowed. I am acquainted with the parks in and around Portland: none fit this description.

As I sat on my bed further details emerged. The land surrounding this particular park was expansive and public and the inner park was well-kept secret concealed within. My father was aware the inner park, and he knew the way to the gate. The surrounding public park was also wooded, but in an open and sunny way. It was a Portlandy park: azaleas, bike-racks, brown information signs, pebbled paths, the fauna a careful mix of deciduous and evergreen. But the hidden park had a private feeling: damp and woody, intricate, personal. Ornate maiden hair ferns grew beside the path, shy trilliums under the firs, red-winged blackbirds called from the trees. It was the park of hidden things, rare blossoms, uncommon birds.

We arrived at the park by car, following some awkward and anfractuous route. In the reoccurrences of the dream our course was different: a back road over a hill in Lake Oswego, or North over the St John's Bridge, or routes that weren't in Portland but in unidentified cities with lacing overpasses and layered bridges. In this last dream it seemed we were headed to Canby, but then doubled-back toward Portland on another road, only arriving at the park after going an unnecessarily long stretch out of the way.

What I find to be so curious about this dream is that I've apparently had it over and over. And yet until Monday I never remembered it as a dream, but as a vague memory of a real park. I only remembered it at the tail-end of my other dreams, after I'd finished going through them and started about my day. The secret park dream itself was hidden within my other dreams, disguised as a memory.

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