I dream I am in a high tower, speaking with a Scottish man. He speaks to me like a man with a boarding card in his pocket. Attentive, but remote.
I crave patience, compassion and understanding from him, in this conversation about the most personal of all cancer. He is thinking he is running late.
Simultaneously, I feel the timidity of mid-childhood with the timidity of older age. Both the former and the latter mean we lack the resonance of speech or the stature to meet adults eye to eye. The former because we are not grown and have not experienced being needed or heeded; the latter because those days have been and are now long gone. We look up at the person who can grant us safe passage or punishment with fear. Our minds form words, but our mouths remain closed.
Then I dream I am lying on a bed in a small hotel in Portobello with Rickie. Rickie is a singer. “I never read my reviews”. She purrs like a resting lioness, while I try to drag my eyes from the crotch of her jeans next to me.
A performer telling you they do not crave every word written about them is like saying a dog chained in a garden can be indifferent to the taunts of a tom cat, spat out from the safety of a high brown fence.
“Is that a fridge or a bee?” I say.
Then I dream I am alone in a vast pink porcelain amphitheatre. Alone but for an old man on the tiny stage. An old man that might be me.
“The appropriate response to reality is to go insane”. His voice seems to come from behind me. Then the belt inside my body that keeps me upright is loosened and I fall with thanks. I have been as stubborn as an arctic flower.
Now, after seven decades of holding myself up and holding myself in, I fold and crumple in grateful despair.
“Unearth early life trauma and delete it. No one is driving the bus. We are all passengers” he says.
I can only hear him in my head.
Now I dream I am with someone I know, or maybe someone I used to know. We are against a rail, trainers stuck with beer. A singer with blood in her name is framed in jaundice light.
She is delicious. So much better than we could have imagined. The voice is so alive, so musical, so sensuous. We both fall in love with her there and then.
The gig is crowded; full to bursting, but you can hear a pin drop. We are perched side by side, red wines in hand, mesmerized. Cheek to cheek, shoulder to shoulder, leather and cashmere.
I need to hold your hand to move through the crowd. You find a security man and charm him immediately so we are better than the rest … but we both know that.
Plastic glasses – big ones. More red wine. My driver at the door.
I touch your bottom lightly through your denim as we ease out into the night. Lovely. You like your bum. I like that you like your bum.
Home again. Warm, Janis, Ian on shuffle. Good red burgundy on the table in good glass.
The joy of a shared deep response to others in their pain. Emotions running high.
I tell you: “Change. Move on. Let it go”. I do not think I say these things to hurt you, because I know I could never hurt you like you hurt yourself.