Very early in the morning on Friday, I awoke in my French Quarter hotel room from a strange dream.
Now, before I relate the details of this dream, I should point out how amazing it is that I am actually writing about a dream at all. I very rarely remember my REM sleep adventures. Even the most vivid ones evaporate almost immediately upon waking, as much as I try desperately to wave my mental arms in the air and grab hold of some fragment of the scene, anything that will help me hang onto that state for just a while longer.
However, when I do remember dreams, I remember them for years.
In this particular dream, I was underwater, in the ocean, without diving gear, able to breathe freely without oxygen, amphibious. The water was a perfect temperature, like an almost-hot bath. I was relaxed, swimming gracefully, like a mermaid – except I was wearing regular street clothes, sans fishtail.
The reason I found myself in the crystal clear depths was singular and urgent – I had to find a hidden library whose shelves contained secrets to… something. That part is not clear to me in my post-somnolent state.
While the content of my search eludes me, the motivation does not. In the dream, I only had a certain window of opportunity to find this library, not because I needed to come up for air or rest my body, but because I had it on good authority that this library, this vast treasure trove of information and lore, would disappear entirely if I did not act. Now.
Just hours before this dream, on Thursday evening, Shawn and I got on the 47 trolley at Canal and Bourbon and headed up towards Mid-City to a little bar and sandwich shop called Chickie Wah Wah. One of my favorite new artists, Seth Walker, was performing at 8:00. His inspiring set featured his spot on in-the-pocket hollow-body guitar chops and his incredible, soaring soulful vocals paired with top notch songwriting and choice covers by esteemed figures as varied and wonderful as Nick Lowe and Sam Cooke.On his set break, he came over and we talked. Relaxed, cool, friendly, sincere. At the end of the night, we talked a little more. He lives down here in NOLA now, originally from Texas. He, too, felt the strong pull that this city possesses. I told him that we talk about giving it a shot here and that in some ways it’s tough to think about leaving the comforts of home for something new and uncertain and unknown. I looked at him and said, “Something in my heart keeps saying that I need to be down here.”
He smiled and said, “Well darlin’, you need to listen to that voice.”
This entire week has felt like a series of living dreams: studying traditional New Orleans jazz under some of the best players of the genre in the world; jamming with Gerald French; playing a pick-up set at Fritzel’s on Bourbon Street; marching in a second line parade a hundred souls strong down to Artillery Park and back; performing on the same piano that Sweet Emma played at Preservation Hall; meeting up with old friends and connecting with so many new ones; drinking in the constant stream of music that flows from every square inch of this hot, humid, well-worn, beautiful city.
I know that living here would be hard, especially in the summer. I know that it would require a lot of stamina and perseverance. We’ve made good connections though, and those connections could easily help us find work doing what we love and a place to live while we’re doing it.
Maybe it’s a crazy dream to have. How will we know unless we try?
As much as I love and will always love my home in New England, I know it can’t keep me there forever. There’s only a brief time within which to listen to one’s inner voice – the voice that speaks of treasure at the bottom of the sea.
To be continued.