Last night for the first time since the 2001 Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Palm Springs, I connect with two East Coast friends, Mike Neff of Web Del Sol and Doug Lawson of Blue Moon Review. Both, it turns out, are newly settled in Northern California and we get together at Aqua Blue Restaurant in Santa Cruz. Dear friends who I had long associated with the East, Mike from Washington, D.C. and Doug Lawson from Virginia, where, like Mike, in 1994, he founded and began editing one of the few consistently high quality literary eZines. I was privileged to serve as contributing editor to both Mike’s Web Del Sol and to Doug’s Blue Moon Review.
It was Doug Lawson who published, among other things, my 25 page Earthquake Collage, and did so with imaginative tweakings of photos I took following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which destroyed 70 percent of Santa Cruz’ downtown. Earthquake Collage, BTW, will be published soon by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH).
Aqua Blue, a seafood restaurant, coincidentally decorated with several blue moons, i.e., large spherical blue lamps… the word spherical, it turns out, can refer to astronomical objects and spheres of ancient astronomy.
By chance… what follows seems to have some connection with these two old friends. Ferris Wheel in the Sky, A Dream.
Mountain. Then a still higher mountain behind the first. Then, at “end” of dream, a giant ferris wheel fully lit and filled with people as at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, only this one is rotating, it seems, in the sky above the second of the two mountains. At first I simply “see” it, then I see it rotating.
What’s that about?
Begins: I’m “inside” in some bare, bland community room at a yoga meditation retreat. Then I’m called out to join the others and am amazed to see first one mountain, then another, higher, taller, steeper just beyond the first. First thought is, This is the Sermon on the Mount, it is that kind of mountain. It seems a combination of the Old Testament and the contemporary Santa Cruz Boardwalk as when, for example, the ferris wheel begins rotating. It seems nothing out of the ordinary and yet totally extraordinary.
At first I’m facing outward toward an open field where yoga classes might be held and I see people, Esalen like scene, everyone relaxed, picnic-like atmosphere, quiet, peaceful… a partially clouded yet sunny afternoon. That’s the setting and, asked to join the group, I choose an unoccupied reclining chair, a rather old worn wooden lawn chair with a folded meditation mat or blanket. Nothing special.
Then I’m aware of someone nearby to my left, a male figure dressed in a loose, khaki-colored robe. I put out my arm to touch him and he withdraws… the gesture is unwelcome. At once I realize the seat I’ve taken belongs to this man, the leader. I never actually see his face, but imagine him to be a man in his mid 40s or 50s.
And I’m embarrassed and want to vacate and I want to do so quickly, quietly and without notice. Suddenly self-conscious… I’m about to move elsewhere… I turn 180 degrees and it’s then I see this amazing mountain, only this time animated… complete with a giant ferris wheel and it’s rotating and there are people on it.
And it turns out, in dream, that the “upper mountain,” the one above and beyond the first, the one I’m calling the Sermon on the Mount mountain, is where people on this Zen Meditation Retreat sleep, where they’re housed and it’s from there they come down for classes or whatever goes on down below, so to speak, in the area where I’m sitting, the one with the large open field. That’s a long way to come, I think, but somehow realize at the same time that it’s only walking distance, from mountain top to the main yoga or instruction area. Tassajara. Big Sur. Esalen.
I wake thinking the ferris wheel is Web Del Sol, my friend Mike Neff’s website extraordinaire. Web Del Sol. Web of the sun. It’s a ferris wheel, spinning, with 60,000 visitors a day or a week or something…
Dream connected somehow with Mike Neff and Doug Lawson, and our friendship, virtual, virtual friendship that goes back 14 years, to early Internet, early eZines, when WDS and Blue Moon first began publishing.
Following dinner last night, I worked on Robert Dana’s Writers’ Friendship essay on British poet Stephen Spender… and the awe and warmth Robert Dana expresses for his friend.
I’m from Chicago, “transplanted” to Santa Cruz. Here since 1985, I wake asking myself, What am I doing having such a West Coast Esalen-like dream? I’m just a transplanted mid Westerner.