Dream of the Sharp Autumn When the Sea Was Everywhere, and Nowhere

I was in a dream landscape which I realized after awakening was “the seacoast of Bohemia”: Northern Illinois with the oceanside somehow added in. Flat but beautiful country bisected by roads. And it was from everywhere always close to the sea as if it was an island in a non-Euclidean universe, or the sea were like the air.

I was living alone in a little room in my father’s big house. My Dad was leaving on a journey. I was going out for a run. The weather was getting cooler. It was getting on toward fall.

I asked my Dad in a diffident voice as if I didn’t care, man to man bluff, like that, if he didn’t perhaps want a traveling companion. He said no. I asked why. He said he did not choose to tell me.

I was full of anger and went looking for Mom’s cigarette smoke micro-environment to complain to her, but then I woke up and I realized that my Dad had died. My dream anger turned to sorrow and compassion.

I also connected with the absence in China of anything like the sharp autumn of Northern Illinois for I’d left my own kids in a “sharp autumn”: one in which it stays beautiful but gets cooler, not quite Indian summer, one in which owing perhaps to my father’s distance I decided at some level to use the person I’d become to parent myself and not the kids, at least not as much as I would have had I stayed.

This was a type of death as is a sharp autumn or Indian summer but what we don’t think we get we take.

VIOLA
What country, friends, is this?
Captain
This is Illyria, lady.
VIOLA
And what should I do in Illyria?

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Quae hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga?

Seneca Hercules Furens

KENT
I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls me, I must not say no.
ALBANY
The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

Shakespeare, King Lear

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