In the liquid time-space between waking and sleeping, just before I slip into the mutable darkness of dreams, I find myself in the same place every night.
Everything is black, white and blue. I am leaning back on my hands, my legs stretched straight out in front of me on a beach of sand as fine as an ashtray in a fancy hotel, so pristine that people extinguish their cigarettes on the sidewalk so as not to disturb it’s purity. The beach stretches to either side and bends around to form a perfectly circular cove. It is surrounded by dense foliage, rough-barked trees with no leaves that are entwined so tight that there is no egress except for the narrow mouth of the lagoon directly across from me, revealing the smallest sliver of an endless dark sea. Turning my head to face the ropy wall of trees behind me, I can see a swirling borealis of red and orange lights emanating from somewhere beyond the tree line. If I strain my hearing, I can make out the noise of life somewhere in the distance. Voices. Music. The indistinct whir and grrr of motors. A city, perhaps, or maybe a carnival. I don’t know for sure. I probably never will.
The lagoon is shallow, still wadeable all the way to the middle, where a gradual decline sinks toward the mouth and the open water. The waves lap in smooth, even folds through the circular pool, reaching the shoreline with barely enough energy to brush the edge of the sand. Over the mouth of the cove hangs a buttery white moon the size of a hot air balloon, suspending large and matte against the inky blue sky. Leaning back and looking up, I see stars–rivers and islands and rapids of stars, so many that any attempt to put them in order of constellations or maps seems ludicrous.
Next to me on the beach stands one leafless tree, the only blemish on the sand between the treewall and the water. It is a sturdy tree, the trunk squat and stout but with branches that reach long and far into the sky. Hanging from a protruding limb is a friendly and worn rope ladder, and in the crux of the the branches sits a treehouse, or rather, a house in a tree. Pink shingles, dormers and flower boxes in every window–it is as if something plucked this residence from a sleepy neighborhood, shrunk it to fit and placed it carefully into this tree. There is a light inside that shines through the windows, casting long cross-hatched shadows on the sand next to me. A cozy smoke billows from the short chimney. I think someone lives there, and often I think I might go and see who’s there.
It is safe here on the edge of life, wrapped in a little pocket of imagination, watching the black endless ocean beyond the scope of understanding. I sit on the shore, my legs cradled by the dense, cool sand, watching the water and listening to the human symphony playing in the far off somewhere, until I fall asleep.