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Let's not stop here to think about what kind of psychoanalytical fodder there is in the fact that I desire to be a landscape architect, and because that is not presently a vocation I am free to pursue, my subconscious invents landscapes while I sleep. I don't mean I'm making gardens. I mean when I dream, it's very specific and precise landscapes of places I have not been, places that I know do not necessarily exist.
There is a recurring dream of an old-world courtyard, cobble streets, towering rickety brown wood and stone buildings. The lights are yellow and dim. There's always a car chase here, my heart is always pounding. I can't tell if I did something wrong or if I'm in danger or both.
The other one that keeps coming back is set on a highway - empty except for broken down cars. It's a complex system of on and off ramps, and I'm always trying to get out of the city and head north. It's always night, I am always lost and stressed. These are the dystopian ones. While there are other people in them, and I appear to know these people, they're not people I know in real life.
There's a more peaceful dream - it's northern Maine, near an island, a shallow lake, like a big water garden, you splash from rock to rock, there's always kids playing. I don't know them, but they seem to be family. Later we go downtown, all little shops clustered in on each other. There are tourists buying shirts and lobsters, and for some reason I don't hate it because it's cheerful, and I'm still thinking about the water and the pine trees. And also because it's a dream.
A new dream presented itself last week. I was flying into Nova Scotia. There was an island, I could see the whole thing, tight with trees, little white and red houses and barns running around the edge. I cried in the dream. The water! It was too much, too beautiful.
It is a new thing for me that landscapes in movies make me choke up. I watched the new Les Miserables in theaters and people were crying all around me and I was like.... this is fake. I feel nothing. But give me a sweeping shot over Scotland... Ireland... Wales? The tears roll. I don't know why. It just reaches something that otherwise has walled itself off. I don't know if I'd feel like that if I was actually there.
It's also not necessarily the travel "bug". I no longer have an indiscriminate desire to just "travel more" like I wrote down in my list of goals for 2008-2009, which recently surfaced. In my solo trips back and forth from where ever my best friends are currently living, I've discovered that travel only "sinks in" for me if I am going with, to, or returning home to, people I love. This rules out a lot of the "finding yourself" travel-related nonsense a more whimsical version of myself might still be tempted to go looking for.
I don't make casual friendships (that module was not installed at the factory), so the kind of informal connection that enables you to crash with someone you've barely spoken to, just because they live in a city you're traveling through, absolutely horrifies me. This leaves a lot of places still to go. Which I guess I'm working on in my dreams. And at least there, the places are as empty as I desire.
This is not to say I haven't enjoyed the waking travels. I have taken a few moments for myself, detours to the shores of whatever Great Lake I am closest to (skipping stones is the best past-time). Side-expeditions to find bottle shops or record stores in the middle of nowhere. The occasional tourist stop or outstanding meal on the road is crucial in keeping you human.
One of my friends said if you stop at a view and eat an apple, when the apple is done, you've admired long enough. I quite agree.
Truck stops off of Route 90 in the middle of the night are a kind of dystopia of their own. Route 70 in the West Virginia mountains before dawn is unsettling and wonderful. I'm less fond of 80, because that's always bustling.
Most recently, close to home, it was late and I was tired, and driving up one of our country roads, I saw a whole section of the trees (close-knit over the road) move and slide, like scenery shifting for a play in an auditorium. I almost stopped the car. I keep waiting for it to happen again. But I think that's only going to happen once.