Monday, May 5, 2008

Dreams of Kharkov

The end of the dream was: I was on a tour of Russia, going by train from Moscow to St. Petersburg via Kharkov (I'm not sure this is geographically possible), and at the station where I changed trains there was an enormous queue to get into the unisex pissoirs (don't ask me how the women used pissoirs - I wasn't studying the matter). Everyone was pee-shy and the charge was a dime (or Russki equivalent) and my focus was entirely on the architecture, which included Art Deco mosaics so designed that the eyeballs of elegant Mucha ladies and the pistils in the huge colorful flowers seemed to bob up and down, an optical illusion or a lurching around of interlocked mosaic tesserae by some process I'd never heard of, immensely clever, clearly of Byzantine provenance, and still functional though the station had been built in 1904, indeed actually constructed by my contractor cousin Akiva Yaglom (grandfather of the mathematician). I had plenty of time to watch their eyeballs roll and ponder how superb the architectural functions of pre-Rev Russia still were, compared to the shoddiness of everything that came afterwards.

... I think the Russian ladies had the pinched, gamine faces of the Russian pianist I was chatting with in Whole Foods the other day, who thought I was making a pass at her and asked if I were married, and was rather startled when I said I was gay. She said she'd come here in 1986, in part because there was nothing to eat in Russia but kasha ... and told me about a friend of hers who had got a live-in nanny job here and was then blackmailed by the (Russian) lawyer who had found her the position. "That's how they all are here ... the Russians ... always looking for a way to cheat and steal ... that's all they think about." ...

But (back in the dream) I never did manage to pee and went back, grumpily, to my seat in the carriage, and wondered whom I could ask to watch my bags while I tiptoed to the w.c. on board, and someone observing me noticed I was not wearing shoes and complimented me on my cleverness in removing them on the train (was he being ironic?), and we had pulled out of the station and were going through suburban Washington D.C. which was in full spring bloom, enormous Victorian mansions overwhelmed with bougainvillea, and patriotic displays beside the tombs of Civil War generals ... it was at this point that my need to piss indicated what it usually does, and I woke myself up, amazed at how much of the dream lingered and for some reason singing the regimental song of the beau vingtième from La Fille du Règiment.

And on waking, I remembered the earlier part of the dream, when I and Nancy McCann (I think it was she, at least sometimes it was) were attempting to take a ferryboat across a lake to arrive at either Russia or some vacation spot en route (Cuba, perhaps, which Orlando was raving about to me last night in Ty's), and some very attractive fellow was captain of the ferry, and we dawdled, and he came after us to remind us we had fifteen minutes to get across the lake in his boat and catch the next connection (to Kharkov?) and so we scooted to the deck (although I reflected we'd never make it, have to take the next one) and the sun bore down on the lake and its shores (the Bosporus? the Georgia Strait?) but somehow we were in shade or under a stormcloud and it got rather chilly ... and before we docked I was on the train from Moscow as described above ...

I do like dreams where the architecture is interesting.

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