Sunday, February 17, 2013
I Dream Of Brooklyn
Last Sunday's episode of HBO "Girls" had everyone confused. It was a dreamlike episode, unfolding surreally. We saw Hannah as we never had before. She wasn't eating Cool Whip out of the container in her small Brooklyn apartment, complaining about her horrible love life. Instead, she spent two days with a handsome doctor, barbecuing steaks on the patio of his brownstone and taking a sauna in his giant bathroom. The episode was like a fantasy of what Hannah's life could be in the future if she stopped struggling and earning $40 a day at "Grumpy's Cafe" and instead lived the lavish lifestyle of a doctor's wife in an expensive Brooklyn brownstone. Hannah was awake, but she was dreaming.
Not too long ago, I had an actual nighttime dream about Brooklyn. I dreamed that it was an early Saturday morning, and I called up my best childhood friend, Ania, and told her that there was nothing I wanted more in this world than to go to her condo in Brooklyn really early in the morning and hang out together. The desire in the dream was so strong.
From the time I was 8 until 18, Ania and I were inseparable. We spent almost every single day together. She lived on the corner across from my street, so I would call her up and we'd meet outside and hang out all day. She was always just a phone call away.
The next day after the dream, I e-mailed Ania and asked, "Can we set a date to get together? Like at your house?" She wrote back, pleased. "You want to come to Brooklyn? I'd love that." So we set a date for breakfast.
On the scheduled Saturday morning, my family set out for Brooklyn to have breakfast with Ania's family. Her husband cooked eggs with salsa and Mexican cheese. Ania made vodka breakfast cocktails. My daughter and her son took turns riding his scooter back and forth on the hardwood floors while the rest of us sat on stools and talked all morning.
Last spring, Ania said that she'd often come home from work to find the HBO "Girls" film crew sitting on the front steps of her condo. They were filming the second season in her neighborhood right in front of her house. And now Hannah and I were both fantasizing about alternate lives. Hannah imagined what it would be like to have the material things and lifestyle the doctor had. I fantasized about what it would be like if I could revisit my childhood -- the constant daily steadiness with Ania, playing Connect Four on her front steps at 9:00 in the morning when no one else in our neighborhood was outdoors yet. This is the fantasy of my alternate life.
But Hannah doesn't really want to go into the future and be settled yet. She'd lose her edge, her writer's restlessness and her need to, in her words, "Feel it all." I don't really want to go back to my childhood, all that uncertainty and second-guessing. I finally feel secure with a fierce sense of responsibility. But sometimes, it's nice to dream with the background setting of a really nice condo or brownstone in Brooklyn.