Sunday, September 9, 2007

Obsessive-compulsive dream about Paris

No, not that Paris. The other one.

The dream was multi-part and stretched across the entire morning. Each time I woke up and went back to sleep, the dream picked up where I had left off. I was visiting Paris. It was evening; 7 p.m. I had to be ready in two hours. I was not prepared. I made a quick mental inventory of what I needed: my phone charger, my Canon, my contact lens solution. I was not happy with the lack of preparation time; as a true obsessive-compulsive, I take hours, days, to plan my trips. This trip was hasty, and I knew that I would forget something.

Strangely enough, I don't remember actually visiting Paris in the dreams. This is quite characteristic for me.

At about 8:30 this morning, on my last dream, I had arrived back home. I was gassing up my truck at a service station. I met an old buddy, and I told him, "I got some great photos of Paris." And then I remembered--where was my camera?

I couldn't find it. Dug through the truck... looked everywhere. Gone.

What would I do? I didn't know... Maybe this was a good opportunity to buy that Nikon I was looking at, I thought.

An absurdist dream, of course (though not my most absurd). I know what prompted it: last night, I was digging through my negatives, searching for lost photos to scan and post. I was looking for a particular series--the black-and-whites that I had made in 1974; they are among the best I have made in my life, but the negatives were buried in the jumble of plastic sleeves in the large binder that I keep them in. I kept telling myself, "If I could just find these and post the whole series, people will think that I'm actually a good photographer." But as I searched through the pile, I was continually distracted by lost images from my past, which I pulled and scanned. And I stumbled upon one that I had made of the river Seine. Crystalline, classic. And I remembered.

Probably, I won't visit Paris again--at least, in this lifetime. For one thing, there are so many other places that I need to visit before I die, and for another, I want to learn French. And we all know that it's impossible for an American to learn French to the satisfaction of a Parisian. So I content myself with my dreams. Let's hope that next time I dream of Paris--the place, not the person--I remember it.

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