Ward Nicholson

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Self-made programs at a funeral, and a drink on the road (dream 3)

I am attending a funeral in a town a couple hours’ drive from where I live. Earlier this year, in real life, my sister and her husband and I had made the drive together to attend a funeral in this same town for an aunt of mine who had lived a long life.

But in this dream, my aunt is still alive. She and my sister and I are attending the funeral of another woman, someone I don’t know. It is a bright spring morning.

We are walking on a cemetery sidewalk in a line with the other people paying their respects, toward the graveside ceremony. There had apparently not been the usual memorial service in a church or chapel beforehand. A typical small, foldover program for the occasion has been handed out to everyone attending.

Glancing over the four pages of the program, I notice that the information about the deceased is very sparse to the point of being almost nonexistent. My aunt explains as we’re walking along that each person is to draw and compose their own program for themselves.

There are just a couple of guidelines. The first is that we letter the program in a style similar to the 1960s and 1970s-style psychedelic poster art tradition: large, sinuous letters that nest in on themselves, and with one another, like a curvy jigsaw puzzle. The second guideline is that the largest word on the cover should say “Nadasha,” apparently a name from India. I am not clear exactly, but the name is either that of a woman — though not the deceased — or something else of feminine character.

Beyond these two directives, we can add to our programs whatever type of drawing and text we want. I am still unsure about things, though, and look over to see how my sister is decorating the cover, the colors she is using, and so on. Reassured, I am about to begin lettering my own version, when suddenly I am somewhere else.

Now I am on the side of the road on a main thoroughfare where I have pulled over in my car, just a mile from home in the city where I live. I am with Paul, a former work partner whose business I once helped with. In the dream, we’re back together working again, and are coming home in the late afternoon or early evening from a job we have just finished.

But things are kind of mixed up: usually, when we go out on a job together, if we don’t take separate cars, we go in his van with its full supply of parts and extension ladder, along with anything else we could possibly need, things I have yet to acquire. This time, though, we are riding together in my car, something we have not done before.

I don’t drink alcohol, but we have nonetheless just made a purchase from a liquor store on the other side of the street from where we’re now parked. Except there is no liquor store there in real life, nor in this dream either, just the same residential neighborhood that has been here for years. I am holding a fifth of some kind of whiskey in my hand, and have just taken a swallow. But then I realize I could be arrested for having an open container in the car. And besides, I am driving and don’t want to get drunk before we continue driving on home.

Through the front windshield, I see Paul, who has his back to me, leaning backward against the car with one elbow propped on the hood, surveying the scene ahead and drinking in slow, relaxed fashion from a bottle of strong beer. About this time, another man, slender and a bit disheveled, crosses over the road in front of the car, smiling our way amiably. He is wearing an unbuttoned long-sleeve shirt with the shirttail out, over a T-shirt, and carrying his own fifth of whiskey from the nonexistent liquor store to another car somewhere nearby.

Although I don’t drink at all, and Paul only modestly, it is something he takes pleasure in when he does so. Despite the fact we’re parked on the side of this main thoroughfare, he seems to be enjoying the moment, and isn’t in any rush.

I become concerned that we should get going before any police might happen along. I tap a few times on the inside of the windshield to get Paul’s attention, and motion for him to hurry up. He doesn’t respond immediately, instead taking a few more swigs at his own pace with casual indifference.

Now satisfied after the additional intake, he begins moving around toward my side of the car — not his. He takes his time doing so, however, his body language exuding an air of cheeky nonchalance.

There is still a little beer left in his bottle, and when he arrives opposite my side window, back still to me, he turns the bottle upside down, letting the suds that remain drizzle out in a foamy stream. Just as the last suds are draining out, he swings the bottle out to his side with a flourish, sending the final ooze dancing to the ground in an artful cascade.

Note: Paul okayed including the basic personal details about him related in this dream.

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