“It sounds as if you had a twelve-minute psychic bike ride.”
The sentence wasn’t part of a dream. Or maybe it was. I couldn’t see the woman as she spoke these words. There wasn’t much furniture in this fourteenth floor office in downtown Seattle. The couch was always the first thing I saw as I entered and left my jacket on the chair just beyond it. I often imagined standing before the bookshelves that covered one wall. In reality, there wasn’t time.
My use of the word reality reminds me that I uttered it on the couch this morning. I think my words were: “I know that the phone conversation I had last night was real, but it didn’t feel as if it were.” It was cloudy outside. Perhaps it would be raining when I left the building some forty minutes later. Rain brought to mind last night’s dream, in which I’m walking on a downtown sidewalk during a rainstorm without an umbrella. This dream image felt important, yet time wouldn’t allow me to talk about two things at once. Time itself seemed on my mind. Space was also occupying mental room. I couldn’t picture the space I would need for a psychic bike ride.
“You’re referring to my phone call, aren’t you? A friend called and I made the mistake of telling him what I was writing about, about biking on a road in my mind, feeling lost. Somehow I knew that I had only twelve minutes to find an exit.”
I glanced at the clock on the windowsill beyond the couch. Twelve minutes remained, not eleven or thirteen. It was raining outside. I used to ride my bike a lot in the rain. How many decades ago was that? My friend remained silent after I said that I was writing about biking in my mind. The psychoanalyst seated behind the couch also remained silent after I asked her my question, until she spoke. “There’s a lot here to think about. And you’ve imagined all of it now?” I have imagined all of this at my desk. Is my imagination done with me for today? I’ll have time to talk about it tomorrow on the couch.
I imagine that a fictitious event happens when I enter my psychoanalyst’s office this afternoon. Once I’ve crossed the threshold of her consulting room, she asks whether we might try something different today. “I’ll lie on the couch and you sit in my chair.” Moments later, I hear her say from the couch: “Now tell me what’s on my mind.”
Maybe I can read minds in my imagination. I’m comfortable in her chair. The view of the room is expansive from here. I never thought I’d sit behind a psychoanalytic couch.
Silence from the couch seems to suggest that she’s waiting for me to speak about her mind. I was about to write “speak her mind.” Is that what telepathy means? Thinking someone else’s thoughts as if they were one’s own?
This must be a dream. Can a dream be about two minds? A possible response to my own question comes to me: what you have imagined is not fictitious. It’s your mind.
I am afraid that what remains of last night’s dream will soon disappear. The problem is that I can’t record only what I remember, as if this were my dream journal. Other images have appeared, and I imagine them saying in unison: “We want to be part of the dream, too!”
I stand before a familiar door. I’ve climbed a flight of stairs without remembering it. She’s not here today. I feel my own anxiety in the last sentence. It’s Saturday. These two words seem to turn my body around so that I’m facing the other doors on either side of the long corridor. I often see these doors closed, but today I somehow know that all of the offices are empty. My psychoanalyst would never know I was here. Before I open the familiar door, an image from last night’s dream appears: I’m standing before the front door of my childhood home, which somehow I know now belongs to my psychoanalyst and her husband (I thought she wasn’t married!). This image has yet to disappear when I lie down on the couch where, in reality (which reality, external or internal, am I referring to?), I attempt to say whatever comes to mind a few times a week. It’s strange to be in this space alone, and I connect this feeling to my experience in last night’s dream: I don’t belong here, not now. This isn’t my office. We don’t have a session today. My childhood home belongs to someone else now. I can’t open the front door as if my parents were waiting for me inside.
The dream hasn’t been completely lost. An image has been saved, one with valuable imaginative information. She has become the owner of our old home. I first wrote “my old home,” and then I replaced “my” with “our” before I could think about what I was doing. Home is an emotional place. I am at home, expressing all of this in words, we have a session today, in what feels like a dream. I’m writing and I’m dreaming, while I’m awake, unlocking inner doors that I didn’t know were here to be opened.
“I journaled in my mind this morning.”
An image of him in a coffee shop writing in a black hardcover journal came to me. Then I realized what he’d said: I journaled in my mind. I had avoided listening to his words. Or maybe I needed to be more patient with my own imaginative ways of listening. He might have written in his journal in a coffee shop this morning, and he might have had moments during the experience when he felt or imagined that he was writing in his mind instead of in his journal.
Neither of us spoke for what felt like several minutes. A sentence came to mind: Journaling helps me understand who I am becoming. Was I thinking about myself, the thirty-five year-old man on the couch, or both of us? This question felt less important than the next sentence that came to me: This is journaling in my mind. Perhaps the man on the couch was describing how he experienced his mind this morning. I realized that it was a few minutes before noon. Maybe he was describing his frame of mind now, while both of us were in the same physical space, and neither of us held a journal or pen in his hand.
“That last sentence has kept me quiet. It surprised me. I’m a bit disorientated.” The number thirty-five returned to my conscious thoughts in a sentence that seemed to disappear moments after appearing. Thirty-five, though, remained. “Last night I read some pages of a journal of my mom’s from thirty-five years ago. I can’t remember when she gave it to me. Or why. What I read surprised me. She did this. I knew she was in psychoanalysis. She did what I’m doing. I’m doing what she did. And she wrote about it on the pages I read last night. She was sad. I was born that year.” Silence again.
I imagined both of us journaling in our minds. The image felt alive. It helped. I was sad. We were sad. Journaling in our minds.
I need a woman to help me write these sentences, who lives inside of me, who is me. The last three words surprise me. I picture this inner woman walking up a flight of stairs with me. There’s room for us to walk alongside each other. I feel that we’re talking in silence. We reach the second floor. I open the door. I know that in reality I’m alone. Yet as I walk the short distance to my office, to my creative space, which I feel invites me to be alive in my imagination every day, I experience her presence as a reminder that emotions, especially painful ones, are meant to be lived consciously. I am seated at my desk. Writing these sentences has felt like a dream. I haven’t written them alone. I can write in this way. It’s frightening at times. Sometimes unknowns face me in every clause. I want a plot. The reader wants one. Is this a narrative? I must know these things, no? I seem to be writing about my fear of failure. What if these sentences are a failure? I’m not alone. I stand up and walk a few feet to a wall of bookshelves. I wonder which book can help me create the remaining sentences. There’s room for both of us inside of me to imagine which book will soon be in my hands. The images that follow belong to both of us.
I felt fear behind his words before our bodies were in the same room together. We meet often. He spends 200 minutes a week in this room, where I’m writing what I hope become reflective sentences. I’m tired. It’s time for me to go home. I seem unable to focus on the constant movement of images and words inside of me. I need some inner motionless moments. My body seems to say no. Before I leave this room I’m going to write down what happened at 10:00 or 10:01 this morning. He appeared to climb the stairs from the waiting area a floor below faster than usual. I wasn’t alarmed. There was no reason to be yet. Then I heard his voice before he reached the door to my office. I imagined closing it before he could enter.
“What am I doing here?” The desperation I heard seemed about to become something dangerous.
These sentences feel as if they speak about both of our minds, about his eight hours ago and about mine right now. I can’t control sudden movements in my mind. I wish I could. The fear I heard in his voice moments before he entered my office frightened me. How might I have experienced this in my body? I needed control of the uncontrollable. I know how to spell the word control, I doubt I have ever stuttered while uttering it, yet without warning I’m helpless. Perhaps I should write the rest of these sentences in the morning. Maybe there aren’t many more to write.
I answered his question above with silence. He entered the room in silence. Finally, I am experiencing a moment of inner silence.
I am unsure why he wants me seated alongside his desk where he appears about to start writing in a sketchbook, which he says is his daily writing journal.
“Think of it as an experiment,” he wrote in one of his initial emails to me on the subject.
I have arrived at his writing room prepared for anything, which is a translation of the following series of images into words: he stands up, walks away from his desk, leaves his writing room, then returns, sits back down in the chair, and opens the sketchbook, as if he were waiting for an inner event to cause external action.
His writing hand, with which he grips a blue pen, trembles. An unwelcome image of my mother, who has Parkinson’s Disease, comes to mind.
Words, lots of them, start appearing on what less than sixty seconds earlier was a blank sketchbook page. I write the following sentences in my mind: I imagine this stranger before me as a Jackson Pollock with words. Perhaps he wants me here as a witness. This really happened.
An image of me standing behind his chair, peeping over his shoulder to glimpse a clause or even a complete sentence, seems to become everything in my mind for a long anxious moment. I’m afraid that my body might act without the permission of the rest of me. I picture this writer in action, standing in front of the closed door, preventing my leaving. I realize that I might be here for longer than I thought.