One Fruit Remains Uneaten
November 1983 journal with dreams, by Catshall
I haven't written for weeks except for the poem I wrote on Monday night about entrails, dead babies, and the full moon. Our teacher Pam gave us the lines of famous poems to use for our text. I used them all except the one about bananas and melons. Unfortunately, that was the one I wanted to use the most, but I couldn't manage to fit it in.
On Friday morning Jeannie and I threw the I Ching. We got "The Receptive" with a changing line at the top: "One Fruit Remains Uneaten". I thought it was about the film I've been working on. There's a lot of fruit imagery in it. Larry Jordan, my film teacher, says it symbolizes the Mystery of Eternal Woman. I edited most of it out. He wanted me to put it back in, but instead I stuck the extra footage at the back of my closet. Perhaps I'll let it rot like some overly ripe, uneaten fruit.
For the last several days, my roommate Tom has been offering me pears to eat, but I've refused them.
I told Willa Flogg and Bob Starfire about my I Ching before they took me to the SM party at the Catacombs. "One Fruit Remains Uneaten." They laughed and Willa caressed me with her whip. Willa's a lesbian, but she used to be a man. We made love once, with Bob present, or shall I say she gave me an orgasm?
Bob is one of the two men Willa has had sex with. The other one was gay. He's dead now from AIDS. Anyhow, after that first time among the dildos, manacles, whips and vibrators and with Bob biting our toes to lighten the whole thing up (this was in her totally suburban condo in San Jose, after we'd gone bowling) I felt like an innocent schoolgirl deflowered by jaded sophisticates. It was a scene straight out of Colette.
I was embarrassed until afterwards when Bob fell asleep. Then I looked into her wide, green eyes for a breathless space and felt like I was fifteen again and in love with my best friend Jackie. Only then I didn't know it.
At any rate, on Friday night, the moon full and my period about to start, my sexual education continued. There was a lot of talk about dominance and submission. When Mark, Bob's roommate, came into the room and referred to me as an "exploitable little object," I didn't mind. I even let Willa whip me lightly while I lay on Bob's massage table. I had dressed for the part this time; I was wearing a short black dress, knee socks, sandals, and no underwear.
"I'll be scared if you guys want me to," I told them. "I wouldn't want to disappoint you."
For the next couple of days I felt lonely and vulnerable. The dark, life-denying side of my experiences came out and although every time I went over to Jeannie's house it was totally ratna (Gary's Tibetan term for the atmosphere of over-ripe fruit), I couldn't write about it. Instead, I wrote about dead babies and cold cats, their eyes like ringed moons.
In the meantime, Fred came over with the king-sized foam pad he had promised me for a bed, and we transformed my room into a sultana's palace. We eliminated most of the furniture to make it lighter and airier, hung plants, rearranged pictures, and threw a simple but elegant quilt over my Queen's litter, then made wonderful love. I had put together a collage earlier that day: a photo of my family combined with images of a woman dancing, with the words from a poem by Emily Dickinson, "if this is fading, oh then immediately let me fade." That's how I felt.
Jeannie lent me one of her horse paintings. It gives my bedroom a new energy. Last year all through the rainy season I used to look at the green painting she'd given me, imagining myself drowning in a wild and stormy sea. Her new painting, in bold red and black colors, promises a more optimistic vision. We'd gone swimming the night before. The swimming pool's bright, blue energy inspired me to exorcise my demons by sitting up all night to write the cat poem:
His eyes beckoned me,
I feel the stubborn humming of his purr,
That night I dreamt - not of cats -
Jeannie rang the buzzer while I was writing this so I took a break and we went out for Chinese food. While we were gone I started to cramp, followed by heavy bleeding. Last night while we were making love Fred had said, "Your body is so ripe, so luscious." My period was starting; that was why. I didn't feel luscious today; I felt swollen, lethargic and bloated. I couldn't do much but lay on the mattress bleeding.
Jeannie lay in the darkened room beside me. She thought maybe she had herpes so we got out a flashlight and a mirror and looked inside her cunt. At first we were appalled because there was a lesion there and little droplets of blood, but then we figured out she was still menstruating. The sore spot was actually on the inside of her thigh, not in her cunt, probably from her skin chafing against her underwear.
She said she was glad she wasn't a lesbian because it probably involved a lot of pussy-eating. Being a woman herself, she knew just how insatiable women could be; she got exhausted enough sucking cock. I agreed and we cuddled together, her sweet-smelling fluster of hair tickling my nostrils.
"This is nice," I told her. "Even if we're not lesbians. Your ass curved into my belly is so soothing to my cramps. It's not at all like a man's body would feel."
"Even Fred's?" she asked. Fred is fat.
"No, he's hairy and sweats and has hard muscles underneath. Besides, he's been losing weight."
The day passed in sweet, drowsy slumber. With the shades pulled down, I couldn't even tell it was getting dark until the buzzer rang again.
This time it was Bob Starfire arriving for our date. Jeannie left, but I was still in a Jeannie-like mood, donning pink lingerie and soft rainbow clothes. I'm not in the habit of wearing such seductive clothing, but I felt imbued with her energy. I felt very sexy and self-aware; I parted my legs as I strapped on my sandals and leaned forward so that Bob could see the cleft between my breasts. But he was uncomfortable with the boudoir atmosphere, a male who had intruded upon a female lair, and he rushed me out the door so we could make the movie on time.
I sulked on the bus.
"What's wrong?" Bob asked.
"Don't worry," I told him, "it's just sexual tension," but I was worried. The nervous, hothouse feelings I had weren't pleasurable. I felt hostile to him for making me feel that way and spent the evening in a cool "touch me/don't touch me" state.
We ended up seeing two Louise Brooks films which were beautiful, but just contributed to the decadent, woman-as-object tone of my last few days. By the end of the movies I felt distinctly bitchy. When we got back to my house I wanted Bob to go home and leave me alone, but he wouldn't. He got into bed instead. Eventually, I did, too, but I moved over to the edge to avoid touching him.
He fell asleep, but I stayed awake: fuming, frustrated and miserable. I remembered how many nights I had spent like this when I was married. Too many!
Meet the FamilyI told him about my dream the next morning and then about the two previous ones I had last week.
I dreamt I was looking for home, but got lost in the middle of suburbia. I couldn't recall the name of my street. When I finally did find my house, it turned out to be a large, half-timbered fortress. My relatives were wandering around in the living room, munching on Fritos, Cokes, and chocolate-covered donuts. Bob Starfire was there and I had to introduce him to my family, although I didn't want to.
"What do you do for a living, Bob?" my Aunt Joyce asked in a loud, booming voice.
"I'm an accountant," he mumbled into the pillows on the sofa, his long, blonde hair tousled as he lay face down on the couch. "And I'm involved in the theater, too," he added.
I felt embarrassed, but he felt totally at ease.
Suddenly a herd of huge, wild boars stampeded into the fort, scattering everyone about with their shrill, rampaging noises. There were humongous flies crawling up the insides of their asses which disgusted me until I saw they were actually bumblebees, at which point I became terrified.
"Bees! Bees!" people screamed as I ran barefoot down the hill stepping into briars, people yelled, "Watch out! That's really a bee!" but I ignored them, knowing that I was a strong warrior. The bites only stung a little bit and the nettles of the briars were bearable; at least I had to convince myself of this if I were to escape.
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I was standing on a long, lonely subdivision road. I stared up at the top of the hill into the sun, waiting for Bob.
"He'll never make it," I thought, "He's too delicate." I was worried about his heart - he's had two open-heart surgeries - but in a few minutes he arrived, breathless. I ran up to him, sweeping his hair away from his neck to press my lips into the bony curve of his shoulder. I was searching for bee bites. "Oh, Bob," I cried, "My honey, my sweet. Are you all right?"
ChildI told Gary about my dream long-distance over the phone. He laughed. I have recurring nightmares about being stranded in some town in the Midwest, but it's never Louisville, my hometown. Gary says that I'll dream my way back through the Midwest to home -- through Milwaukee, Kansas City and St. Louis. When I finally dream that I'm in Louisville again some stupendous change will take place in my consciousness.
In the first one I attended the University of Wisconsin. I lived in an apartment so tiny that there wasn't space to walk when the door between the two rooms was open. Gary, my ex-husband, came up from Louisville for a week or so to stay with me. We slept in twin beds. One night I went out with Bob. The next night Gary didn't come home, but I didn't notice. I was so used to living without him that I forgot he was visiting me. He came in the next morning to tell me that he had spent the night with a girl named Mary Lou whom he met in the school cafeteria. Although I hadn't missed him until then, the discovery hurt and surprised me.
"Why don't you just go and live with Mary Lou?" I asked -- so he did, and I never saw him again!
Years passed. I became the assistant graphics editor of the University of Wisconsin campus brochures. I was sitting in my air-conditioned, book-lined office poring over a brochure when someone walked in with a small child. It was a little girl with red hair. Mary Lou and Gary had broken up and gone their separate ways, but somehow I was responsible for their child. But I was glad. I had been leading a lonely, spinsterish life, not really happy as a career woman, and when I discovered that I was to raise Gary's child, even by another woman, it seemed to give my life more meaning.
PrizeGary says the salad bowl symbolizes our marriage.
When I was actually living there I dreamt that I came in fifth for the Pulitzer Prize, but all I won was a wooden salad bowl with matching spoons.
The last of my set of three dreams is the hardest to talk about because it was permeated with a warm, loving feeling that is difficult to describe.
I was in a soft, dark, warm decrepit house, filled with rotting fruit. There was the strong odor of orange incense mixed with cinnamon tea. Indian-print curtains were blowing in the breeze. I don't know how I got there or what I was doing, but I moved slowly as if in a dream (which in fact I was) to the kitchen where I could smell curry and raisins cooking on the stove. Strangely enough, the kitchen was located on the second floor.
Past the grimy little refrigerator and stove were the tops of green trees and the swelling sound of rain. Everything was soft and dark. A woman with a cloud of wavy dark hair, a little older than myself, took a covered dish out of the fridge while humming softly under her breath. I heard the slam of the refrigerator door and then followed her to the innermost part of the house. I wanted to ask her what I was doing there.
It turned out that it was a hippie, vaguely Hindu commune. I told her that I was lost and that my purse was missing. She immediately found it for me, and gently led me out to the street, but when I checked inside, some of my money was gone. It had been replaced, however, with playful pink and candy-colored bills.
She took me back inside to get my real money and then spread her legs out on the couch, fully dressed but waiting. Waiting for what? It took me a moment to realize that she wanted me to eat her. I was filled with terror, but also with a strange and wondrous delight. I don't remember if I did or not - it didn't seem important - but at that moment I understood that she was One of Them. I was shocked. (Previously I had thought that she was just a visitor like myself, only a more knowing one.)
Then a child laughed in the other room and I caught a glimpse of his mischievous face, (laughing eyes surrounded by curly, dark hair) as he ran from one room to the next. I was filled with sadness, and a sharp poignant longing, wishing that he were my own.
Frightened and yet grateful that this openness had returned to me, I went into the kitchen and ate the last piece of fruit on the counter, Tom's golden, bruised and delicious pear.
A Note Years Later
Several years after this I moved into a house just like the one in the final dream--down to the smell.
If I ever build a list of transcendental dreams, this last one (despite its simple content) will qualify. It's not about the content of the dream, but its effect.
On the other hand, that dreamlet on winning a fifth-place Pulitzer salad bowl just made me laugh. The rewards of the creative life, yep!
Note on the illustrations: Catshall is a great admirer of the early 20th-century bohemian writer Colette; both the girl smoking in a suit and the final illustration are Colette. The vamp with the bobbed hair is silent star Louise Brooks. The collage with the money in it is Catshall's; recent, not from 1983.
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