(NaBloPoMo for Nov. 12, 2013)

I awoke in the middle of the night; my fuzzy vision noting the clock showing 1:45 a.m.  No big deal, I thought.  I rolled over and attempted to fall back to sleep.  I tossed and turned, disturbing the cat. After nearly half an hour, I finally decided to quit trying so hard.

I knew my pattern; I usually was awake for quite a while if I didn’t get right back to sleep.  That appeared to be the case this time, so I figured I might as well enjoy myself.  I reached for my smart phone on the bed stand, pulling up the PANDORA app.  I slipped the ear buds into place and selected a comedy channel – I listened to some Cosby and Foxworthy, and a few more comedians.  I finally got drowsy, so I switched the channels, turned over on my right side and settled in, forcing the cat to relocate into the reshaped crook in behind my knees.

And it started …

I found myself standing in a school library. The highest shelves were no more than eye level, so this was a library meant for shorter folks – elementary or junior high kids maybe.  Standard-issue humming fluorescent lights flooded the room with light.  The room in general was neat – no clutter at all – a solid tribute to the librarian who must have run a tight ship.

As I browsed among the books, I became aware of a door to my right.  I turned, spotting Kristin sitting at the piano across the hall.  (She is a former student of mine – a flute/saxophone player, adorned with a head of red hair.  I called her “Carrotbottom” back then, and still do now….we shared the joke often – many folks used the phrase ‘Carrot Top’ for red heads, but she and I insisted that it was the top of the carrot that was green, so we stuck with our own personal twist on the moniker.)  She was doodling the keys a little, playing a nice little set of notes.  She started softly singing, so I left the library, posting myself against the door to listen.  Unaware of my presence, she continued to play and sing.

She caught sight of me out of the corner of her eye, looked up at me and nodded.  The final bell of the day rang, so she quit playing and closed the lid on the keys, but amazingly, the music continued – and she continued to sing.  She left the room, waved a goodbye, and walked down the hall among the other high school students, who didn’t seem aware of the music.  Kristin kept singing gently anyway – something about “heaven opens a magic lane” – an obscure intro to a famous song, I later found out.  I headed in the opposite direction, picking up a few things in my office on my way out the building.

I could still hear the music – and Kristin’s singing – as I stepped outside, though she was nowhere to be seen.  Across the street, I spotted a dozen or so students leaving a small stone-walled church.  The kids descended the four stairs, singing along with Kristin’s song… they finished the introductory phrase that Kristin had started.  Then came the famous part:   “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”…..

There were many familiar faces in the group, but I can only recall two now as the memory of the dream fades.  Jackie was there, who was one of my first students, back in the 1970s.  The other was a total surprise –Terry, who was a high school classmate of mine, a good many years ago, was the last one out.  She stopped at the top of the steps and waved to me, then descended to join the rest, just as if she were their classmates.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon – seemingly springtime.  The girls were dressed in colorful dresses, the boys in white shirts and black slacks.  Out of the church they came, advancing together down the street.  I stepped into their ranks to follow them, curious to see where they were headed.  The music continued as we walked in the warm rays of the sun, everyone singing along effortlessly.

In a few blocks, we approached another building.  At first, I thought it was a church, but upon further study, there was no telling if it was a church or a concert hall.  Once inside, it was clear that the whole interior was finished in the finest oak.  The floors, the walls, the backless benches and the ceiling were all beautifully varnished wood, the colors coming out in shimmers of reds, golds and oranges.  The sun shone through the tall windows all around the space, adding more dimension to the colors.

We made our way into the center of the space.  As the kids continued to sing, I gazed around in every direction, taking in the woodwork, the colors and the sunlight.  The music came from all around as I stood among the kids.  I don’t recall if there was any harmony, but it certainly was pleasing to hear.

A raised section all the way into the room served as a stage for the hall – or an altar, if the place was a church.  On the stage, I recognized a young man playing a grand piano and singing  sat another former student – Russ (who in reality now lives in California, breaking his way into the film industry as a music composer – http://www.russellholsapple.com for those who need his services).  He sat at the piano in his usual relaxed manner, his left leg underneath to operate the pedals, the right leg out at an angle, almost as if he were sitting on just one corner of the bench, allowing him to lean into the microphone.  He was dressed just like the other guys in the room; dark slacks and a white shirt.   His playing meshed with and then blended with the music that Kristin had started back in the school – eventually, the Kristin music faced to nothing, leaving Russ and his piano music as the dominant sound.

The kids formed a semi-circle around Russ on the stage.  One by one, the students slowly dropping out of the singing until it was only Russ performing.  The  mood  was that of relaxed pleasure, of contentment.  Russ quit playing the piano and sang the last line of the song, a capella…

“If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why, can’t I?”

And right at the end of that line, at about the first ‘why’, Russ’s voice glided from his baritone voice to a rich alto woman’s voice…. I awoke quietly from my dream….

…And heard my headset play the end of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as performed by my favorite jazz singer, Jane Monheit.

I swear this is the dream – and that I have embellished none of the descriptions; I feel so fortunate to occasionally dream in such detail….  I awoke with a wonderful lightness, ready for a good morning.  I can truly say that my day started with a good mood.

 *****

 (for those who are curious enough, Jane Monheit can be found on youtube and on her own website: www.janemonheitonline.com)

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