Every so often I have a dream that I accidentally discover a vast warehouse of objects I’ve saved over the past decades, collection after collection of forgotten books, old letters, my children’s baby clothes, my first cocktail dress somehow miraculously restored to its original slim chiffon perfection–and dishes, always dishes, some of them still needing to be washed. I had that dream again last night, and, as usual, it was a wonderment to me. Here’s how it goes: I’m cleaning out an apartment or a dorm room or a hotel room at a convention or even a motel room in some ratty motor court, and as soon as I’ve gotten everything packed in the car or thrown out, I open one last door, and there it is–a huge, dusty warehouse filled with more things I need to get rid of. I start giving them away, when suddenly an expert appraiser (who looks astonishingly like a former therapist!) shows up and asks me if I know what I’m doing. “Getting rid of all this old junk,” I say, lifting up a grungy blue and white plate so she can see it. “Hmm,” she says, “nice. Without looking any closer, I’ll offer you a thousand dollars for that. It’s Lalique.” (Of course in my dream I don’t have Google, so I don’t find out that Lalique is precious crystal, not porcelain.) “Really,” I say, “Well … there’s more of them.” We’re up to $100,000 for one particularly fine cobalt-blue bowl (and I’m thinking “This has got to be Meissen!”), when I realize a cat-burglar has stolen a precious porcelain statue of a staircase with a fleeing maiden on the top step and an evildoer with a foot already on the bottom step–and then I wake up.
Could this, possibly, I wonder, still half asleep, have something to do with the rat-trap creativity of the writer’s mind, that neurotic tendency to hoard trash and turn it into treasure? You writers out there: whaddaya think?