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Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Effingham Again…

Actually, I didn’t. I dreamed I was at the Savannah Mall, which is in Chatham County… but “Effingham” is a better match for “Manderley”, phonetically, and it rolled a bit better off the tongue, so… there we are. (And by the by, if you’ve not read “Rebecca”, you might want to. I enjoyed it, anyway. Moving on.)

Last night, I did dream I was back home generally, if not in the specific county where I was raised… interesting, since those dreams have become fewer and fewer as the years have gone by. When I first moved to the UK, I probably dreamed of home several times a month; and no wonder I stopped *that* shit, since I was sure the pain on waking would kill me. Sometimes, in the dream, I realized I was just dreaming, and that was easier to take–but all those times I woke from sitting with my mother and my sister Julie, heading to church or watching old Star Trek episodes or attending a family reunion, all those times I woke from having a heart-to-heart with my dad, or letting one of my younger brothers (practically grown men, now) take me fishing, or taking my youngest sister to the playground… no, better that I stopped that. Even my subconscious knows there’s a limit to what it can force me to look at.

Last night, though, I did dream of home. I dreamed, not of my family (thank you, Subconscious) but of having a jog around the Savannah Mall parking lot, and then heading inside. I was quick, too; I remember thinking how nice it was, that when I *do* choose to run, even after all these years of sedentary life and not having my bike, I can still move faster than you think I can. And when I got inside, the Food Court was just enough as it really is, and just enough a cross between the Oglethorpe Mall and some random made-up place in my head, that it didn’t sting too much. I was home, but not in the home I left and will never get back to; rather, I was “back home” in a place I’d made for myself, with just enough memories that it felt authentic, and just enough new features that it was comforting, rather than filled with longing and despair.

I ate a cheesy pretzel with bacon (real bacon, not what the British call bacon, what we call Canadian bacon; it was crisp, and didn’t taste like a salt mine) and then I struck up a chat with a group of people sitting around (on the floor, as much as at tables; whatever, there were beanbags, and I like to keep it casual in my dreams). Someone commented on my accent, I think–or maybe I commented on his–and we spent the next 15 minutes, myself and himself and the selves of about 5 other people, having the “What’s England Like?” conversation. I didn’t mind, as I usually don’t, and even more than that, I enjoyed it. One of the highlights of my dream convo was when one of my new friends said something, I burst out laughing, and remarked, “You know, we are so sarcastic. Half of what we say is layered in irony or meant to be taken in some way other than at face value… and an entire country full of people thinks we don’t understand sarcasm at all. Isn’t that the darnedest thing?” And we all shared a grin that was equally knowing (oh, how people always underestimate Americans) and puzzled (why would anyone not see how sarcastic Americans are; how can you miss that?).

That was around the time I woke up, and I’m pleased to say, I felt energized, rather than depleted. It was good to have been home, even for a little while, even if it was just make-believe. I suppose the real question, though, is this: after years of living here, being more or less settled, why start dreaming of home again now?

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