Right after my ninth birthday, my family moved, from the suburbs of Portland in Washington State, to Salem, Oregon. The reason for the move were complex, but the most important thing for nine year old me was that I was entering an entirely new world. At that age, the furthest south I had ever been in my life was the southern suburbs of Portland, when I went to my aunt's house for Christmas. South of that was terra incognita to me. As an adult with all the riches of the US Census and Google Maps at my disposal, I can say that Salem is an exurb of Portland, and that someone who is familiar with one is probably going to be familiar with the other. Someone who has lived all their lives in a city would probably find the 45 minute drive from the southern suburbs of Portland to the northern edge of Salem to be a quaint farmland, while someone raised in a more isolated area would probably look at it as just a freeway between two big cities. But I was even beyond that: I was nine years old, I had been raised in a single small town and had just recently been allowed to walk a quarter mile to the store by myself, and the gap between my old world and my new world was intergalactic space.
I don't know when the dreams begin. I think that I have "always" had them, enough that I couldn't remember my first specific incident of one of them. In the dreams, I am somewhere between Salem and Portland, waiting in some small town for a bus or train. This is the core of the dream, being inbetween, and waiting. Sometimes the dreams take place elsewhere: up and down the I-5 corridor that was the framework of my world as a child. Sometimes in places I have never been, like on a subway line in New Jersey. Sometimes these travels are placid, while sometimes there is an edge of uncertainty or worry, my connecting journey being in doubt. Often they are quite technical in their details, with real TriMet route numbers and schedules...although going to totally impossible places. And strangely enough, there is not usually a direct reason for my journey: I don't think about what is on the other end of the journey, just that I must get there.
I don't know if I am alone in having such specifically geographic dreams (even inaccurate ones). My dreams always seem to involve location, movement, and destination. And, of course, connection. There is a fractal nature to the journey as well: I always feel that there is one more stop, smaller and more distant, to go, and that the journey will go to smaller roads to smaller towns, further and further into the inbetween that was the barrier between my past and my present.
As an adult, realizing that these dreams might be telling me something, I took the journey in question. By transit, on little van sized buses, I've traveled the rural towns of the Willamette Valley. One unseasonably cold day in early March, one with snow flurries with an airline blanket wrapped around me, and after taking some Yohimbe, I walked the sixteen miles between Woodburn, Oregon and Keizer, Oregon. And I took an Amtrak Train trip around the country. And I moved to South America, where I took the same little rural buses around little towns in Chile. All of which never really settled the feeling that probably sparked the dreams, the feeling of being inbetween one thing and another, of having two inaccessible phases of my life staring at each other through a window. Like everything in the realm of dreams, space is probably a stand-in for something else, and the separation that haunts and beguiles me in my dreams is much more than the separation of two cities an hour apart on a wide, straight freeway, and perhaps more than the separation between different times of my life. Somewhere the concrete imagery of my dreams, of signs, of benches, of roads, and the sense of moving time, points to something larger, but what it is, I do not know.