I had an unextraordinary dream on Saturday during an afternoon nap.
The dream was just a snapshot of me with my Dad.
He was putting on a new black, button down in a wonderful fabric: slightly shiny and crisp, starched to perfection, with a black on black surface design of tiny diamonds and stripes. It was collarless and much trendier than Dad’s typical fashion.
“Dad, that’s a Great. Shirt. You should wear that for every meeting you ever have.”
“Ha, you think? Too casual for the office. But I liked it.” He beamed his goofy lipless smile, head tilted to the side to prove he won’t take himself too seriously. Weekend stubble covered his face and his blue eyes squinted into self-satisfaction at his good taste and daughter’s approval.
When I woke up, it seemed so unlikely that he’s been dead for almost five years. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t basking in the joy of stolen time with Dad in a dream dimension. I just felt like the reality of Dad’s new shirt and the reality of Dad’s death were simultaneously and equally true. These paradoxical truths put me in a strange headspace for the rest of the day.
That night, I went with a friend to the Tribeca exhibit, Dream House. Dream House is a manipulated environment meant to distort the viewer’s perception of time and space using lights and sounds. I laid down on a carpeted floor under a purple beam staring at undulating shadows cast on a warm red wall. The space around me vibrated with a nearly unbearable cacophony of ringing of alarms, sirens and booming tones amplified on four chest-high speakers.
I tried to pull the afternoon’s moment with Dad back into my mind, hoping Dream House could hold both realities — life and death — comfortably.