Talking with Reinaldo Arenas

Note: I am now waiting up to 6 months before posting my lucid dreams. This means I am always approximately 30 lucid dreams behind.

November 24, 2013

A staged performance I’m observing ends with the incisive and amusing but also rather acerbic comments of a Cuban man who seats himself on a couch to deliver them. The performance concluded, I leave with another man I somehow know. It is night time and we are walking toward the ocean as we discuss the end of the play. But as we pass a lit and open doorway, I turn back and tell my companion I would like to go backstage and say hello to the performer. “I will greet him for my mother. He will like that.” So we turn left into the luminous white corridor, make another left into a small sitting area, and then walk through an open door into a small kitchen. Reinaldo ArenasReinaldo Arenas seems to have prepared himself something to drink. He is facing the door, and the instant he looks my way I am struck by his absolute reality and presence. Reinaldo! His face is distinct and just how I remember it. I feel almost overcome with emotion; tears well up in my eyes as I approach him. I am wearing a long sky-blue skirt and a loose white shirt. The man who accompanied me introduces me, “This is Maria Pita” he says and Reinaldo, holding my eyes as he watches me approach, tells me, “You have a luminous presence.” We shake hands and I say, wanting to make sure he recognizes me, “Juana Rosa’s daughter.” I remain in the room with him and several other people as they converse. Reinaldo is berating himself for not being good enough, or better. I feel passionately compelled to interrupt him in his defense as I state with clear conviction, “Better men are overrated. Sometimes you have to be bad to be good.” Smiling, he slips an arm around my shoulders and we leave the kitchen. He says something which relates to that momentous day when he saved me from something bad. I reply, “I for one was very grateful.” We stand facing each other, our faces mere inches apart as he talks even while chewing on a cigarette, literally taking the whole thing into his mouth and speaking as it continues to smolder. I clearly see the mangled white object lying on his tongue. Then I seem to discern more than one, although now they look more like pills. Some people I sense are family members leave the kitchen and cross the room. Reinaldo is now reclining on the floor. I ask him where he lives and he replies New York. I say, “You must like it there, it’s very busy.” I want to tell him he can come and stay with us because in the dream my family and I have a very large house.

A false awakening in which Mami and I are sitting side-by-side on a couch, our heads touching, as I try to tell her about my dream with Reinaldo, thinking I just need to tell her about my dream with Reinaldo in waking reality because her dream self is distracted. At that point, I wake up for real.

Dream Notes:

Unbeknownst to me, Mami was just this week photocopying all of Reinaldo’s beautiful letters to her and re-reading them. In his words to her, his generous, beautiful spirit shines in an inspiring, uplifting way. I had no idea she was doing this. Reinaldo wrote many books, including El Color del Verano, his final memoir, where he says exactly what he thinks about many famous writers and people, scathing things, tearing them to pieces, hence his acerbic comments at the beginning of my dream, which also possibly related to the horrible Cuban male machismo which may have had something to do with his homosexuality. The only famous writer Reinaldo did not mention in this book was my mother, whom he adored.

When I was nineteen-years-old in Miami, I was unfortunately present the day when my new boyfriend (who unbeknownst to me was also Reinaldo’s lover) beat him up in a fit of jealous rage from which I naturally ran in terror, and which resulted in me breaking up with him. So perhaps Reinaldo did in fact save me from something bad. I will never forget the way he looked up at me from the floor, the sweetest expression of regret and apology on his face, his concern primarily for me.

In my dream, the way he ate up the cigarette, which was still burning, strikes me as a symbol for suicide, for not waiting for your life to burn out before you end it. (In an early poem of mine, I compare a burning cigarette to our physical life gradually burning away until it is finally extinguished). I did not know he committed suicide, I had always believed he died naturally of AIDS, but in fact he overdosed on pills and alcohol before the disease could kill him. He lived in a small apartment on the sixth floor of a building in New York in an area then known as “Hell’s Kitchen”. In the dream, I entered a kitchen where he stood, and had just prepared himself a drink. I also saw what looked like pills in his mouth. At the time of his death, his writing career was busier than ever, with several contracted books in the works. His having committed suicide may be one reason he was berating himself in the dream. It makes me happy how pleased he seemed when I fervently defended him with the statement, “Better men are overrated, sometimes you have to be bad to be good.”

Mami re-reading his letters this week may have “focused” his soul on hers, and because I am linked to Mami (in ways that are manifesting quite obviously in dreams lately) I picked up on his presence when I was on the Other Side (the dream space) and deliberately sought him out to greet him on her behalf. Or he may have became aware of my “luminous presence” through her soul reaching out to his in appreciation as she read his letters to her.

It meant a great deal to Mami that I was greeting Reinaldo on her behalf, and that it happened on the day of Christ the King. God Speed, Reinaldo!

Comments and Questions Welcome