Plaid, Stripes, and a Sigh

Lately, I’ve been hav­ing a recur­ring dream where I’m get­ting ready to pro­mote Glass Boys. I’m wear­ing poly­ester plaid pants, a brightly coloured striped turtle­neck, navy tights, and bur­gundy Mary Janes. In addi­tion to the youth­ful out­fit, my hair is short. Not cute pixie style, but stick­ing up, huge cowlick, fan of splayed hair on the back, crop of low-lying snarls. Comb and water do noth­ing. This may seem odd, but the plaid/stripes com­bi­na­tion was my sig­na­ture look when I was four or five years old. (What can I say? I had a mind of my own.) And I also had that hair­cut when I was around that same age. More than once it led store clerks to ask my sis­ter, “What’s your lit­tle brother’s name?”

So, here I am in my dream, adult-sized, but look­ing exactly like I’m head­ing to kinder­garten. When I’m finally ready, I’m impos­si­bly late for the event. It’s dark out­side, and I have no idea of the direc­tions. The com­puter won’t start, and there’s no map book in the house. I begin to panic as I can’t find a copy of the book, and then I real­ize I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to read. Of course I haven’t prac­ticed read­ing, and when I finally do locate the book, the con­tents are in a lan­guage I don’t under­stand. This is fol­lowed by that feet-in-sludge sen­sa­tion where I can only move in slow motion as the clock ticks. And ticks. And ticks. Until it’s too late, and the event is over, and I slump down in a chair, com­pletely deflated. And then, thank­fully, I wake up.

I’ve had this dream a hand­ful of times, and at first I thought it was bad nerves. But I’ve real­ized it’s not just anx­i­ety over an event or a read­ing. In part, it has to do with say­ing good-bye. I wrote this book dur­ing a dif­fi­cult time, a loss of sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers includ­ing my father and my brother. Flick­ing through the pages, I can start to read a scene, and then remem­ber the exact events occur­ring at that time. Though the plot and char­ac­ters reflect noth­ing of my own life, I know that some of my grief is tan­gled in around the words. So many moments are hid­den away in there, and even though no one can actu­ally read them, it leaves me feel­ing curi­ously vulnerable.

The offi­cial release is in a few days. And still, I haven’t quite fig­ured out how to do it. How to let go. How to lift my hand off the cover, and say, I can’t keep you for myself. You’re no longer mine.

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