It was unclear in my dream how I came to such a state of urgency vis-à-vis my housing situation. But urgent it was, given that I needed an apartment by Monday and the events I will soon describe occurred between 4 and 4:30 on Friday afternoon.
The dream began on the southern edge of downtown Chicago. I was roaming around a sketchy urban neighborhood, not looking for an apartment so much as waiting for my ride. Soon enough, Harrison Ford pulled up.
I didn’t get into his car, but we immediately found ourselves sitting on the sidewalk terrace of a pan-Asian restaurant, the kind where you can get sushi, Kung Pao chicken and Bánh Mì sliders. This was the kind of place where they squeeze lots of gloppy, unnecessary sauce over your sushi rolls. All I can think is that Harrison Ford likes that kind of Asian restaurant, because I definitely do not.
Harrison and I were there on the patio, drinking Moscow Mules from copper mugs, when the restaurant manager came over and explained to me that I might wish to play a Chinese gambling game involving dice, slips of paper and a little cardboard container the size of a cigar box. The manager brought to mind the actor Khigh Dhiegh, who appeared in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) but was perhaps best known for his role as Chinese intelligence agent Wo Fat in 15 episodes of Hawaii Five-O. (Mr. Dhiegh was born Kenneth Dickerson in New Jersey, a fact I learned only recently.)
Momentarily forgetting my pressing need for a place to live, I decided to try my hand at the Chinese gambling came. I picked up a slip of paper, and as I tried to decipher the Chinese characters written thereupon (without success, since I cannot read Chinese), the manager informed Harrison and me that the patio had to be cleaned and we must leave. We did so without complaint, leaving behind our unfinished Moscow Mules in their copper mugs.
Harrison and I began driving toward the West Side of Los Angeles. Careful readers might note the incongruousness of a drive from central Chicago to the West Side of Los Angeles, at least in the sense of completing the journey in a single afternoon. In my dream, however, it made perfect sense because the apartment I wanted to see, and where I thought I might like to live, assuming it wasn’t a dump, was on the West Side of Los Angeles.
But somewhere between Chicago and Los Angeles, Harrison disappeared and I found myself aboard a bus—the city kind, not the Greyhound kind. I do not remember being surprised that Harrison had vanished. The bus proceeded westward—as it should have, considering the trek’s starting point—along Olympic Boulevard.
Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles traverses much of the city, from downtown to the sunny shores of the Pacific Ocean. But what it does not do is curve to the right, and that is what Olympic Boulevard did in my dream. About two-thirds of the way from the near-south side of Chicago to the ocean, Olympic veered to about two o’clock and followed the long edge of a rectangular shopping center.
“This isn’t where I want to go,” I thought. “I must get off this bus.”
And so I did. At the far end of the shopping center along which the bus had only just passed, at one of those glass enclosures that people use for the purpose of waiting for buses, I disembarked. For some reason my impulse was to return downtown in search of an apartment, but not to downtown Chicago. No, I set out eastward, on foot, toward downtown Los Angeles!
I reached my destination, but only through a flash of dream-time and not from walking those many miles. Mere seconds after stepping down from the bus, at the bus stop adjacent to the shopping center, I was roaming the gritty sidewalks of an urban area shadowed by dirty skyscrapers. It was Los Angeles, yet the surroundings were precisely like those in Chicago where my dream began. But it was less like the downtown Los Angeles I know from real-world experience than something Gotham City-ish.
I knew in my dream that time was short to find an apartment, given that apartment rentals in my dreamland did not occur on weekends. But I wasn’t fretting much. Even without Harrison Ford as my wing man, I knew I’d find a place to live before time ran out.
Still wandering the grimy, shadowy streets, imminently homeless yet hopeful, I awoke.