What My Accordion Repairman Told Me

Yesterday, my accordion repairman in Montpelier told me–

“Everything in your dreams, even and maybe especially the nightmares, is your ally. You may not know how, yet, but they are there waiting to help you.”

I’ve been thinking about it, though, and what is within makes what is without, as my accordion repairman also quoted that reality is 90% perception, maybe more. If we believed this about ourselves, if we believed that all that is within is for us, then all that is without is for us, too. Including the man who blared his horn yelling “FUCK YOU” while he passed us on a two-lane road in Maine. Including the acquaintances with whom I have to swallow my unexpected annoyance, despite them being perfectly lovely people. Including my Someone when we are mid fight. Including my mother, which these days is less difficult to imagine. Including my father, who I can hardly imagine, even with every ounce of my creative thinking.

When my Someone and I hit the road almost 8 years ago, we were in a blur of grief, of break downs, of bad breaks. But sometimes, when the coffee was the right brew and the camper was not too hot to sleep in til almost 9:30, or when our morning walk wound us into a remarkably and unexpected place of beauty, or even when the last tow truck driver on the State Line of South Dakota and Nebraska agreed to help us after hours of waiting, stranded, we would raise our hands above our heads and declare–

“The Universe and all within it is for us! It is for us! The Universe is for us!”

It was a clunky chant, but it got the point across, and we were able to stitch these tattered quilt squares of hope together and make a small place of comfort on the edge of the cliff we were looking down. It echoed out and back to us again, a sonic wave that pushed us ever forward, to where things were less hard. Though when we got there, to the less hard place, we chanted it less, but maybe felt it more. Using that old quilt every day made it commonplace, but no less of a comfort.

It’s easy to find signs outside. I can believe almost anything if I’m looking for it. Turning that gaze within– when my heart is beating slower from the slog of sticky black nightmares that sit like tar on my mind the next morning; or feeling the quickened heartbeat of my Someone when he rolls over in the morning, squeezing me and saying “I thought I lost you” as he shakes off his own dark timeline dream world– those are signs more difficult to reconcile. But there it is, my childhood nightmares of losing my parents to a fire, only to lose them in my adulthood by fire of fear and estrangement. Then, there was the relief as a kid of running down my bedroom stairs to find my mother in her chair, half a cup of milky black tea and a book propped in her lap, still in her nightgown in the predawn quiet. She’d move to make me a breakfast of buttered cinnamon toast and an identical cup of milky black tea– two teaspoons of sugar– still reading as she stood. It was not so different from the relief of seeing her one month back, picking at her salad across the table, then hugging me twice when we parted, hesitating to let go. My dreams had prepared me for this– to help me know for certain when I am safe again.

My accordion repairman told me also to keep my accordion out of the car when it was this hot. The wax could melt and I’ll regret it when my reeds start to slip. Of course, I’ll listen to him. If my fixed B flat button is any indication, I can trust him on all accounts.

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