The Kangaroo

I didn’t want to get up; I turned off the alarm. Between 7:09 and 7:50 AM, I had the following dream.

Mike had arranged for us to adopt a young kangaroo. Then I, Mike, and our daughter, Michelle, went to Disneyland for a day of fun. We took the kangaroo with us.

At the end of the day, the four of us were headed back to the gate. We were at the top of Main Street, in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, when the kangaroo, who had no name, began to misbehave. It lay down in the middle of the street, and was nearly run over by a car. There were cars on Main Street, not old-fashioned, antique cars like they had back when the real Disneyland opened, just regular cars. I put a leash on the kangaroo. I did not know the gender of it either.

Just after we exited the park, I saw the leash was empty. The kangaroo had escaped. Michelle told me emphatically I would find it where the candy was, which I recalled was somewhere in Fantasyland. She and Mike continued to the car, and I reentered the park. Night was falling. I thought about following Michelle’s advice, to go where candy was being sold, but thought it better to seek help closer at hand. This was Disneyland. They found lost children. Why not a kangaroo?

But as I stepped back into the park, I discovered Main Street had changed. It was deserted, run-down, and derelict. I thought, It was so much nicer here when I was a kid. I looked in vain for the buildings I remembered, the Lost and Found, the City Hall. I entered a gray, unlabeled building to my left.

There was a short line inside, although there seemed to be no ride or show on offer. I told a pleasant woman I was looking for my kangaroo, and she asked another woman, who said that she had heard about it, and that the kangaroo had been taken to the pound.

She did not say which animal shelter, and I did not ask. Logical questions don’t occur in dreams. And at this point, I came upon that common point in dreams–paralysis. In some dreams, it’s physical. Something is chasing me, and suddenly, my body is unaccountably heavy; I move in slow motion. In this dream, the paralysis was mental. I was unable to do anything about finding the kangaroo; I could only worry about it.

So, next I went home to a shabby unchic apartment in an old building. I walked back and forth from the bedroom to the kitchen, and thought about how I would have to call all the animal shelters in Anaheim the following morning.

And in the morning, I thought about how, later, I would sit on my bed with my laptop, and I would look up the locations of all the shelters in Anaheim. But I never did that. The last scene of the dream found me with my laptop, at a large work table with a number of other people in a large work room. I placed my purse on the floor, began my day of work, and thought about how I had to rescue my kangaroo.

I woke up.

I looked at the time, and it was a second or two before I said, and I may have said out loud, “Oh. There is no kangaroo.” I ought to have been relieved, but in fact I was disappointed to have the responsibility of my dream pet lifted from me, and sad that the dream didn’t last long enough for me to be reunited with it, that the suspense was never resolved.

I’ve occasionally used dreams as jumping-off points for writing short stories, but they’re always a problem. I’ve only been successful when I’ve been willing to let go of the dream completely, and its meaning, and be satisfied with only using an image or two from it. The main problem, I think, is that my dreams are not stories.

In this instance, I have no recollection of the first part of the narrative–acquiring the kangaroo, my agreeing to adopt it, the rest of the day at Disneyland, which had apparently gone well enough for us to still be there by dusk. It’s a deeper problem than not making sense. And although ambiguous endings can be effective in stories, they aren’t supposed to just drop off the edge like that dream did. I mean, why was I procrastinating my search of the animal shelters? Why didn’t I call them? For that matter, why didn’t my husband, who brought the darned thing home, take some responsibility here? Because this was not a story about a kangaroo. It was a reworking of the life I am leading, which, like my dream, lacks a pleasing narrative arc.

Dreams never have clear resolutions. They’re never meant to. I can’t have a clearly resolving dream until the moment I die.

So I’m left with this fragment. I’m haunted by uncertainty, and by the feeling that, somewhere out there, a young kangaroo still waits for me to rescue it from its jail-like cage.

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