Dreams are what they are, and I won’t try to explain them in rational or symbolic terms. The feeling of this one was all good. It came as recovery was at last getting to be the real thing.
After a long and baffling night I was running back to my hotel room. I was feeling fine but realized as I went inside the hotel that I wasn’t at all sure I knew which room was mine. As I stepped into the elevator, though, the doubt quickly vanished. Everything was perfectly clear.
I had been at a strange party that seemed like the enactment of a play or TV drama. An old friend of mine was there who offered to explain what was going on. She didn’t use words but demonstrated what it meant by acting out scenes, and I became a part of the play.
Then her whole appearance changed. She was transformed into a witch-like figure. Her face was distorted with a heavy jaw, her back curved forward, and she had long straight hair like an overdone wig. She was showing that the drama had something to do with hidden depths coming to the surface, and I was trying to persuade her that I really did fit in. I was changing too.
My own face felt different. As I ran my fingers over cheeks and forehead, I touched several patches that creased like paper. I thought they must have come from a torn-up mask. Each ragged piece was stuck in place with the stinging glue that actors use for fake beards. Looking around for a mirror, I noticed a woman staring at me. She laughed and said: You can’t be serious – or are you? She went off for a moment but never came back – though I was expecting her.
A man was sitting and reading, not far from where I stood. We had once worked together and had fought each other constantly. He didn’t seem to recognize me, and I realized he couldn’t because of the disguise. But then he looked at me closely with those dark eyes of his that now had a gleam of derision. He turned back to his book and muttered: I’d say you need a new face.
Finally I found a mirror and got a good look at the patchy bits that set my face all askew. I looked completely absurd. The broken cheeks were painted with a reddish brown beard, one cheekbone looked higher than the other, and the eyebrows were straight black lines set diagonally at an odd angle to one another. No wonder I’d driven that woman away. This wasn’t like a conventional horror mask; it was just a grotesque mess. I started to tear it off and watched my face gradually reassemble itself.
I fled that crazy place, still pulling off those patches. Bits of them were clinging stubbornly, but I kept rubbing the skin until every trace was gone. I skipped the elevator and started down the many flights of stairs as fast as I could. They seemed endless, but at last I opened a door into a vast lobby. I rushed straight for the great glass entrance doors and pushed through.
There before me was a flood-lit marble plaza that overlooked the night lights of the city. It was high above the street, and a stairway of at least a hundred steps was the only way down. I wondered for a moment how the hotel had turned into this monumental structure, but I couldn’t stop to figure that out. I needed to get away as fast as I could and began leaping downward, two deep steps at a time.
I passed someone I must have met once, but his name escaped me. In any case, I didn’t know him well enough to say hello and thought perhaps he was an actor. He looked different than I remembered, with dark glasses completely concealing his eyes. He was with his wife, and the two were angrily trudging up those laborious steps as I flew past. Behind me, they started shouting at each other, but their voices fast receded, as I leaped faster and faster downward toward the street.
I jumped the last steps to the sidewalk and took off running. That’s when I started to worry I might not find the hotel where I was staying. I kept running anyway. It was exhilarating, and, as the fresh night air filled my lungs, a clear map of the way came suddenly to mind. I knew exactly where I was going.
I felt completely happy and in some way right.