This morning I woke up at 7:30, because my alarm told me to. I’d slept for just over seven hours, but my mind-body needed more. I went through the house opening the window blinds to meet a world blue-grayish with breaking dawn, fed my cat, reset my alarm for another hour and ten minutes. Climbing back into bed and pulling the covers over my head, I encased and delivered myself back into the darkness of previous hours, and it was like the first alarm never happened. Immediately my brain’s dream center drew me into stories vivid with color and adventure.
The first dream was inspired by my chronic fear of oversleeping on work days, drawing on the only source of stress in my daily life, which is that of being late. In my dream-panic, I threw together a sandwich for lunch with the first accessible ingredients: either peanut butter with mint jelly, or mint butter (?!) with jelly; in any case, the open-face sandwich was a beautiful, creamy mint green color. Through my stress, I laughed and exclaimed how weird it was. It was white bread, which I never eat. It was mint, which is pleasing to me, but which I’d never enjoy in a sandwich.
The second dream was inspired by a video of a woman’s solo performance in a pole-dancing showcase, which I’ve been watching repeatedly in sheer awe of the athleticism that goes into the art form of pole. In my dream, I watched as an unfamiliar female athlete went through practice routines of an art-sport pole-dancing/extreme obstacle course, as in American Ninja Warrior, moving through a series of course settings of increasing structural difficulty. She was vertically navigating an enormous green structure in the shape of a star whose multidimensional steampunk aesthetic lent it challenges nested within challenges when my second alarm went off. I heard the alarm as she was attempting to leap from a moving gear, and I woke up laughing. “I wanted to finish that dream,” I told my cat. “Now I’ll never know whether she made it.”
But I felt awake and refreshed this time, happy to get up into the room now bright with morning sun. From the quiet kitchen window I watched four species of birds hopping lightly through the branches of bougainvillea thickly shrouding my patio in a tangle of vines, green leaves and clusters of bright fuchsia, flitting occasionally to the nearby watering hole and back again. More birds came to the watering hole from other directions. Watching the birds in the bougainvillea around the patio, the birds in the watering hole, the small desert cottontail rabbit – a permanent resident who ought to be named at this point – also at the edge of the patio, up on his hindlegs reaching for bougainvillea branches, I felt immensely grateful to live in this tranquil downtown neighborhood.
Now, sitting in my office writing while listening to the front patio’s bronze soleri windbells that I’d brought home from Arcosanti, I think of how the bells’ unique sound help to form my definition of life in the Sonoran desert: the sound of these bells, the scent of creosote giving away a rainfall, our treacherous yet somehow captivating dust storms (haboob), and our monsoon seasons’ spectacular electrical storms. I never tire of it. I left it once, but the desert called me back; it felt like a longing seeded in my blood.
A person who lives in California asked me recently, after remarking on our legendary heat, “How can anyone live there? How does anything even grow in Arizona? How do you get your fruits and vegetables?” Taken aback, I realized that this must be a common outsider idea of Arizona: too hot to be livable, too barren to be beautiful, too absent of “seasons” to be interesting. I reassured her that things do grow in Arizona. I did not ask her how anyone would want to live on the San Andreas Fault.
I feel fortunate. If you love where you live, you’re as lucky a person can be on this planet.
The Desert Botanical Garden is near my house.
And if you love where you live, you’re living a beautiful dream of a life.
Blessings to you all heading into a new week, my friends.