Dreamed Memories

Song #5: One Warm Afternoon

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One Warm Afternoon
Words and Music by Carrie Ferguson 2001
Recorded by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music Studio

One warm afternoon when I was a baby
It was time for my nap, they lay me down in my bed
When no one was looking, I started floating
I rose towards the ceiling til I bumped my head

It feels so familiar, I remember flying
My body is weightless as I drift towards the door
Look out through the window, see everyone playing
I hear someone coming and I sink to the floor

And that’s where they found me, silent and smiling
They say it’s impossible I climbed from my crib
They say it’s impossible but I remember flying
It feels so familiar and that’s what I did

They say its impossible but I remember flying
It feels so familiar and that’s what I did
That’s what I did

*

The first home I remember was the little one bedroom apartment on 18th street in Arcata, California, where my family lived between 1973 and mid-1975.   We were about 2 blocks away from Humboldt State University which was on the other side of the new, highly-controversial and still under-construction freeway, Rt. 101, which split Arcata in half.

18th street was a cul-de-sac lined with rental duplexes and a few 2 story apartment buildings, most built back in the 40’s. They were sturdy little bunker-shaped buildings, dark brown or drab green, all with front yards and backyards. Most of the residents were college students.

People often mistook my parents for graduate students because of all their books. My Dad had just started teaching 3rd grade at Jacoby Creek School. My Mom took care of me and the house, plus played her flute in several local ensembles.  Every day she walked with me through the no-person’s land of freeway construction up to The Humboldt State University Child Development Lab, where I went to pre-school.

I remember our apartment: There was a little dark-paneled, blue-carpeted bedroom in the back with a bathroom and a closet that scared me because I dreamed it was full of witches. This room was where my crib and later my bed were. The front room had my parent’s big bed and the HiFi which was a long wooden rectangular cabinet, comprised of a record player and radio in the middle, with a speaker on either side. It sat on the top shelf of a book case made from dark painted boards and cinder blocks. My parents used the HiFi to play Jazz and Classical records. At the back of the big front room was the kitchen area with lots of windows and our table which looked out on the overgrown backyard and my Mom’ sunny vegetable garden. We had a small dog named Robin, a Cocker Spaniel and Chihuahua mix, who was at best ambivalent to me (she nipped me once or twice).

There were lots of children in the neighborhood. One of them, when I was 5, became my first best friend. Her name was Dodi. My parents thought that she and her siblings were wild and that their parents neglected them. She was obsessed with Polar Bears and spoke of them as if they were gods or fairies. She taught me how to steal, which I practiced by “stealing” the neighbor’s newspaper off the lawn (I then also practiced feeling guilty). She wore a dirty white sweater and coveted the little yellow plastic perfume-filled brooch my grandma gave me. Dodi was fickle and mysterious and exciting and I was both infatuated with and intimidated by her, a pattern that was a prototype for many crushes that came later.

I have a vague memory, though it used to be much stronger, of being left for a moment by myself in the front room. It was late afternoon and I remember gently rising off the floor and drifting across the room towards the window. Then I bumped my head on the ceiling, and softly floated back down to rest on the floor.

Dream, fever dream, fantasy, who knows, but this memory has always felt as real to me as the rest of the details from that time period. Do vivid dreams count as life experiences? Some dreams have been very formative to me and their memories are as visceral and meaningful as real life events.  Perfect fodder for song writing.

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