I took a couple vacation days from my job, and headed to Toronto last week with Marc in a big truck to help set up his booth alongside all the other artisans at the massive One Of A Kind Sale.
I had a lot of dreams over the last few days on the road.
These ones fit together in my mind.
I had a dream that I was walking with my parents along a long, high wall of window glass which curved gently; we were walking inside a large glassed-in circle. There was dense jungle on the outside of the circle and on the inside. Our path was narrow and we looked through the glass like looking at animals in a zoo.
Outside the glass, dense and lovely, stitched between the leaves and vines and trees, were thick spider webs. High and white with intricate, elaborate layers. We admired them as we walked along the path, but we also chatted companionably.
I told them about van life: people were buying big old vans like Marc’s and converting them into mini, mobile living spaces, leaving conventional city life behind. My parents were astounded.
As I spoke I could see a vision in the middle of the circle of glass and jungle. It appeared as though at a great distance.
An artisan I know in waking life – who uses fire to shape glass, and runs a shared studio space here in Montreal – was standing looking wise and wild, wearing a tall, blue, leather crown that also wrapped below her chin and covered her neck and chest. Very regal and medieval. She was looking out at a fleet of vans roaring across a desert, she was directing their departure and she was staring right through me.
I looked away from her.
Suddenly, in front of me on the trail was a thicket of spider webs. No longer on the other side of the glass, white, puffy spiders moved slowly through the web close enough to touch.
We turned to rush away, but I realized we were only going to go around the circle and end up back where we were.
Unless, I guess, we headed toward the unknown in the middle.
In another dream, I am moving with ease and speed up alongside a tumbling river waterfall in another forest.
I notice that it doesn’t feel quite like I am walking, or flying.
The movement is more swift and strong and swinging. I am ahead of my friends, I see a cave and duck inside. Inside the cave a young man and woman are setting up a kind of office, there are laptops and tables and they are talking about getting a shower installed. They don’t notice me.
In the next scene I am heading into the same cave sometime later. It is full of people and huge screens mounted on the wall and buzzing with equipment, and again no one notices or minds me. I’m insignificant somehow. As they are talking I see logos flashing by on a screen for thousands of different websites and apps, and I see one I know, and I ask if they are working on that one. They answer as though someone else in the room has asked: yes, they run that one and all the others, processing billions of requests per second. The air is thick with violence and secrecy. I exit and know I have to warn my friends.
I fly through the branches along the river again and as I do I realize: I’m not human.
I am an orphan. I am staying with a wealthy family, beautiful mother, distant father, and their hard-eyed teenage children. It is very dark outside and we are standing around a kitchen island in their cottage in the woods. I look in the fridge and it’s empty. I look on the shelves and they are full of white cookies covered in thick pink icing, looking dry and bad for you, and wrapped in tons of plastic. I say we will need more food for the winter, but a hard-eyed teenager laughs and says they will be spending the winter in Parma, in Italy. I am suddenly furious at how spoiled they are, and jealous that I’ll be alone when I should be in Parma. The mother tells me she is glad to see I have feelings. I wake up shaking with tears in my eyes, confused about why a childish dream like this would get to me.
Later I look up Parma. This stuff jumps out:
An almost independent commune was created around 1140; a treaty between Parma and Piacenza of 1149 is the earliest document of a comune headed by consuls.
At their heart, communes were sworn allegiances of mutual defense. When a commune was formed, all participating members gathered and swore an oath in a public ceremony, promising to defend each other in times of trouble, and to maintain the peace within the city proper.
I want to gather in the town square, but this time with animals and spiders, and artists and trees, to swear an allegiance of mutual defence.
I want to leave the circular path trapped in glass, leave the plastic-wrapped sweets, leave the bunker, in order to follow the river.
I want to gather my people, and make for the unknown middle.