Letter From California
06/26/05 0535.51 pst
San Jose, California
Out here in my neck of the woods we branded our own regionalism: California Dreamin’. Of course this the American Dream in its entirety with a few scenes spiced up with surfboards, sexy bodies, cabernet and whatever gets you through the night, all slathered in sunshine. I was surprised to realize a few years after the miracle occurred, baking a cake in my own kitchen, how seamlessly I had weaved the dream into my one-third suburban acre—I was using lemon zest from my own tree, planted four years before. Own in California, immediately plunk citrus tees in the lot for sweet navels at Christmas, flaunting the California dream at freezing Northern cities.
Reality naturally yielded sad sorry-assed sour orange-colored iron balls in December, but I proudly keep the oranges anyway in the proudest tradition of California dreaming: whatever its failings, it still looks good. For an alleged Machiavellian realist I seem to cling to my dreams with fierce tenacity.
“Get real,” voices often tell us. Okay—I’ll toil and tend, recommend and spend, track it and tax it, look it all over to see where I’ve missed and make amends. I know the routine, Jack, truth and reality have saved my life, I have no intention whatsoever in failing my duty to continually nourish the American fantasy life of suburban employment, a happy wife and growing children fate decided I was worthy for.
I’ve always had trouble believing the American dream could be delivered to my address, so I don’t take it for granted “Joseph!” I remember a co-worker telling me as I gave her the news I was about to secure nirvana on the north American continent with a 1,100 square feet. “This is the American dream!” she gushed. It is? Oh. Nobody ever told me dreaming was supposed to morph into reality sometimes.
If you don’t have dreams, the saying goes, all you end up with is nightmares. Don the yoked drudgery of toil Monday through Friday to live any dream you want the rest of week, if one can. That’s the deal, I guess, but it seems a lot of people are determined to live a nightmare of war abroad and abuse at home these days. It’s probably me, of course—my dreams have always seemed to be far outside the mainstream.
I used to dream that the country would revolt against the theft of election 2000 and that President Gore would claim his rightful title in 2004. “Al Gore won!” I screamed in futile chat text for two years, for blogs where not on the scene yet. Yeah, I’ve been on the wrong side of the reality based community before. Get some help, get a prescription, get a life.
They’re clucking at me again that dreaming to win the House and impeaching Bush is as much of a fantasy as seeing Al Gore take the oath. Whatever, dudes, if ya’ll haven’t figured it out I’m as usual totally confused as how to properly balance dreaming and reality, and the only solace I have is that surely I’m not the only one to have fucked up this particular skill among the species.
Give me a break, my wife is happy. Any American man that consistently pulls this off gets a free pass on what dreams wander through his free time, I say, and I fervently hope I can continue to do so.
So mental meanders of beating DeLay and Cunningham (two of the fattest, easiest targets I have ever seen) three months before the impeachment hearings with Perle as the first witness is delusional daydreaming. Okay. I simply do not get how this is not a worthy dream for reality morphing, but I’m used to it.
My boss, God bless her saintly soul, gave me a day off the books two weeks ago for working weekends. I chose the momentous first Friday of my daughter’s summer vacation to take her to, naturally, Great America.
I gingerly joined floating parents on a tricky raft bobbing in chlorinated seas, squealing children splashing and sliding down foaming tubes with shouting excitement. I reclined in the small concrete waters, watching carefully as electric motors whined, steel rides rumbled and jets from San Jose international roared overhead. It was all so massive and loud and absurdly expensive, garishly blaring on the senses in an alleged pose of recline, bright sunshine slicing though the faint chlorines fumes. Everyone seemed to hugely enjoy it, but in Great America, as usual, I just felt lost and puzzled.
“Time to go home, Daddy,” she said after enough frolics had been ridden and water slides splashed through. Water sparkled on cheeks rounded in a happy smile, a tired contentment from simple fun that still comforts me. I can be lost and confused in a world that makes no sense with dreams that are scorned and sneered upon, okay. I always get to go home where contented smiles await me—as long as I can keep that reality up I can dream whatever I want, I think.