Last night, I took my friend Cody to see the Mississippi river. He was ecstatic, and slightly overenthusiastic, trying to climb down the rocks off the levee in order to touch the water. He didn’t want to swim in it, thank goodness, but he just wanted to dip a finger in. This was up on the Moonwalk outside Jackson Square. It was packed with people, I mean PACKED, and the terrain was a little rougher than it actually looks in that area. The rocks were about four times as steep as they actually are, in this dream-perspective sort of way. And there was a set of wooden stairs leading down to the water that someone had parked some huge SUV on…so it was blocked. Meanwhile, a gang of hippie-types had built this grass swinging bridge over to the other set of stairs, and that was the only way one could reach it. So I watched him try to get to the water, first down the rocks, then back up, then over to the stairs to be thwarted by the large vehicle, then over to the swinging grass bridge which he took one look at and said, “Um, I think I’ll wait,” and climbed back up to me. I was relieved, as I had been very, very heart-poundy panicky watching him…there was an air of chaos to the crowd, and the water was running “high and fast” and I feared he would fall in, or be accidentally pushed. I informed him that there were, indeed, spots upriver that were more accessible, and that was that, and we left the panicky mayhem behind us for other ventures. Whew!
Later, I was at a friend’s birthday party, at their house which looked like the interior of an old-fashioned classroom, complete with a blackboard with an antique wooden chalk/eraser ledge. I was definitely in New Orleans…I could tell by the smell and feel of the air. The place was packed, mainly with faces that remained on my peripheral and that I never could manage to focus on. I think they were more than likely folks down there that I’ve not met yet. At any rate, I was standing at the chalkboard, helping the birthday friend get his ritual candles set up. He had made precise marks on the blackboard by which to set the candles on the ledge to. One for every decade of his life. His birthday ritual was to light one candle at a time, and reflect on his life and who he was at each individual decade. One at 10, 20, 30, and on until the present one. The problem being, though, that each candle was different. Tall glass ones, short stubby ones in mason jars…so when I put them at his precise lines, they didn’t look evenly spaced. While I stood there parsing this particular problem, someone came into the room and called my name. It was one of the future-people whose face I could not pull into focus, but I apparently knew them well as I greeted them as such. He handed me this medium-sized black leather pouch-style bag and said, “Here, Coco left this for you, and it’s time that you had it.” I was touched, as Coco Robicheaux and I met only briefly on Halloween of 2010, for which I was grateful as he, much to my heartbreak, passed away just after Thanksgiving last year. I sat down next to the only person who was “real,” my friend the Madam, and opened up the bag to view the contents. It was full of gris gris and various forms of leatherwork. There were at least a dozen gator feet in there, wrapped then in black leather with green beadwork added. There were also various little oil bottles and pendants, also wrapped in black leather with green beadwork. The impression I got was that it was given to me so that I could pursue some crafty hoodoo artwork, now that “I was finally there, and finally had time.” Really beautiful stuff. As Madam and I oohed and ahhed over the contents of the bag, I held up one leather-wrapped pendant that had this green crossroads beaded onto it, and said, “This is SO you, here, it’s yours,” and handed it to her.
And then I woke up.
I obviously had a better sleep last night, since I was dreaming so hard and so vividly. I found it noteworthy in many ways and wished to remember it, which is why I’m placing it here. Very close friends visiting. A most interesting birthday ritual that I’ve never heard of in waking life, but which is poignant and clear enough that I may just start doing it on my own birthdays. Dream gifts with messages from Coco. Forever connections and ties with people between this world here, and the one I am going to.
What a truly great night.
Featured Image: Coco Robicheaux at Voodoo Authentica’s Voodoofest, October 2010.