Sunday, July 8, 2012

Last Night's Dream: My Mansion Housewarming Party

So last night I had this dream that I was throwing a housewarming party after moving into this giant mansion.

The place really was gigantic and kind of mazelike, with many levels surrounded by a big expanse of land that was walled-off into little gardens. I don't know what I did to get the money to buy it, but it seemed like the mansion was on some kind of ridgetop overlooking a city and the ocean. Maybe it was Los Angeles. Maybe it was no place on Earth.

Anyway, I'm just walking around the grounds of my new home. There are white-smocked caterers everywhere, tending to long tables festooned with food & drink, as well as black-suited security guards wearing dark glasses & talking into their sleeves like Secret Service agents. There are even a couple of stages where some bands are doing sound-checks.

I'm dressed very casually, in jeans and a white long-sleeved shirt & comfortable shoes, and as the sun starts to set, I find myself at the front door of the mansion, standing and waving as limos pull up the long driveway, circle around a big fountain, and stop to let their passengers out onto a red carpet that leads inside.

The people getting out of the limos are all dressed very formally, in tuxedos and long gowns, which makes me very self-conscious, and they're everyone I know. Old friends, members of my family, people I used to work with and people I work with now -- they're all there, including acquaintances and people whose names I can't remember but whose faces I kind of recognize. And they all just kind of wave at me without saying anything before heading into the party, making me feel kind of foolish.

But somehow it feels like it's my job to welcome everyone, so I stay until the last guest has arrived and the last limo has pulled away. By then, it's well after dark, and I can hear the party going full-bore from where I stand out front. There's music and laughter and the buzz of excited conversation.

And so I enter my own house to join my own party.

I start saying hello to my many guests as I move through the crush of people, and, at first, whoever I talk to responds politely, with a quick nod or a wink or that thing guys do with their eyebrows and a little jerk of their heads.

But as I get further into the mansion, something changes, and people stop noticing me. I say hello, and it's like they don't even hear me, even though we're standing right next to each other. It's not that I'm invisible or anything like that. I can reach out and touch people, and when I do, they acknowledge my presence. But then they just go back to whatever conversation or activity they were previously engaged in.

And suddenly I'm too self-conscious to assert myself. It's like I'm afraid to interrupt my guests, even though it's my party.

And so I find myself outside the mansion, wandering the grounds like before, only this time every garden is packed with partiers and I just weave my way through them like a ghost.

The only people who speak to me are the staff -- waiters who say, "Sir?" and offer me a glass of champagne or an hors d'oeuvre, or a security guard who nods at me and asks, "Sir, is everything alright?"

I just wave them all off and keep wandering.

I pass through a gate into the large garden that is farthest from my mansion. It's a big meadow, bigger than a football field, and the near end has a bandstand where a swing orchestra is playing in front a crowd of dancing, swaying couples.

Right next to the bandstand, on another raised platform, is a giant, round banquet table where my entire family is sitting -- my parents, my wife, all of my siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles.

I make my way onto this platform, and I realize that they're all engaged in the same conversation, with everyone telling some family story that everyone knows so that each person contributes a sentence or two. And I feel like I should know this story, with the way everyone is laughing and nodding and participating.

But I don't, because I can't understand a word anyone is saying. It's not that they're speaking in a foreign language; it's more like the music is so loud that I can't really follow what's being said, even though everyone else can. They're even laughing at punchlines in unison as the narration moves from person to person.

And, of course, no one even acknowledges me when I come up. They're too engaged in getting their story told.

This is when I notice, at the far end of the meadow, a helipad, complete with a helicopter on it.

So I hop off the platform, make my way through the throngs of dancing couples, and head over to the gleaming helicopter that I know must surely be mine.

As I step onto the helipad, one of the black-suited security guards nods at me and opens the side-door of the helicopter. As I crawl in and take a seat, the pilot powers up the machine. The side-door gets closed and latched, and as I look out the window at the lights and movements of my housewarming party, the helicopter begins to lift off the ground.

Straight up we go, and I look down at my lit-up estate as we rise. I can see all of it -- the sprawling mansion, the terraced grounds, the frenetic crowd of partygoers -- getting smaller and smaller beneath me as the helicopter gains altitude.

"Where to, sir?" the helmeted pilot asks.

I turn away from the window.

"Take me out over the ocean," I tell him. "I think I'd like to be alone for a while."

(Comments & interpretations welcome.)

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