In the movie I watched before I fell asleep, a corrupt policeman was bribed with a gold wristwatch. He held it uncertainly, as though contemplating the worth of his soul, while being driven in a taxi. He slipped out his cheap silver wristwatch and handed it to the man driving him, a gift.
When I woke the next morning, forgetting the movie, I thought I had worn a wristwatch in my dream.
The last wristwatch I had worn, given as a gift by my lover, had fallen from my wrist several months earlier. I kept it in an old suitcase. When I last checked, it worked despite its shattered screen, telling the wrong time.
I read about a dream, also. The dream was recounted in a book I bought at a bookstore crumbling with used books, where the shelves were shaped as a fortress, the light dim, and the sensuous smell was of worn paper. The bookseller was young and unsmiling, I suppose in his late thirties. The dazzle in his eyes like that of a far older man—acknowledging all the ways books make us overage.
The book is also a gift from a previous owner, who underlined words and scribbled on the margins. There are long unmarked passages, like fallow territory, indicating incomprehension, or disdain. Or, perhaps, knowing the book would be disposed, the first reader bequeathed those passages to a future inheritor.
In another book, one I bought after wandering for an hour in a bigger bookstore, where the shelves are mock ramparts, another dream is recounted. A lover is writing her lover in prison. She tells him: “The word recently has altered since they took you. Tonight I don’t want to write how long ago that was. The word recently now covers all that time. Once it meant a few weeks or the day before yesterday. Recently I had a dream.”1
In my dream we have surpassed distance.
- John Berger, From A to X (London: Verso, 2008), p. 10. [↩]