I dreamed in French last night. My dream was childlike, because my grasp on the language is about equal to that of a 6 year old. They can communicate better than I but I understand the governing concepts behind complex grammatical phrases. I know verbs. Know is a verb. Verb is a noun. Noun is a noun. Is is a verb. And so on.
The dream was limited to my vocabulary. I walked/marché along a street/rue in the night/noir all alone/seul. Poorly lit alleyways, as my more fluent friend stayed asleep in the hotel, I decided on fresh air and the dim alleyways whispered at me to join them in their silence and darkness. Fire escape ends of cigarettes burning above. Grey brick. Black ironwork. Snowglobe stars. I joined the scene, I walked through them, puddles of moonlight, luna, scattered ashes of thoughts now. All is vague, bumping into passersby, je suis désolé they said. ça va. I said and journeyed on.
“When you were a kid, everyone was your friend” – sings Jen Wood, interrupting a 23 year old’s description of a dream. She is the female voice on the Postal Service record. Her music is pretty, jazzy, bittersweet, sad, soft, dynamic. Wilderness is the name of the album I’m listening to. She plays at Columbia City Theater next week. Probably see her.
So the dream ends at the dull interaction between myself and my projection of a local. Perhaps they said more words than I knew, words I didn’t quite pick up. How fascinating if true! If I could dream with better French vocabulary than in waking life. The anxiety of an inability to communicate with someone. Then I think about the Vietnam documentary I fell asleep to. Fire bombs, traps set, ambushes, friendly fire, mortar shells, choppers shot out of the sky, warm beer airdropped. Then I think about the Radiolab episode I listened to about experiments regarding the intelligence of dolphins, trying to find a common ground language between english and ‘dolphin’ and to learn the contents of their sonar, echolocation, flipper-handed, blow hole noises. Are the squeaks and croaks and chirps language we can understand? Research suggests that dolphins call each other by name, having a recognizable ‘homesign.’
What am I in French? What am I in dolphin? Who am I in English, Russian, Latin, Vietnamese? The language of music?