Rae and I pedaled as quickly as we could. Above us, the evening sky purpled toward evening. Beneath us, majestic, neon-bright iguanas serpentined through the clear water, their sinuous glowing tails trailing behind them like iridescent streamers chasing a comet.
We pedaled with everything we had, fighting to maintain headway in the wide, algae-choked canal. The turbulence from the iguanas’ passing jostled our sun-faded paddle boat.
Small arms fire crackled a few blocks away, contrasting with the Christmas lights strung from the palm trees lining the banks of the canal. Twisted rebar sprouted from the mangled concrete of bridges blasted with plastic explosives.
At long last, Rae and I arrived at a small private dock, tied off, and disembarked. Moving from cover to cover we made it to the back entrance of a partially ruined stone house.
I kept a watchful eye and an AR-15 trained on the area between the house and the dock.
Rae knocked three times, softly, on the screen door. Her sidearm was up, safety off, round in the chamber.
My daughter, Raven, answered, wearing a pink bathrobe and her snow-machine helmet — also pink. Rae holstered her weapon and dug in her rucksack for the shipment.
Raven tapped her foot impatiently.
Rae handed Raven two pounds of guava candies. She had run out while binge-watching Netflix and put out a distress signal.
“Thanks guys,” Raven said, and closed the door.
Rae and I headed back to the dock.
It was about logistics
My take: this dream was about the logistics of delivering a birthday present across the fraught emotional terrain of a recent divorce in the early days of covid.
The afternoon before the dream I was wondering how to deliver Raven’s birthday present to her. At the time, I didn’t have a vehicle.
The present was a hydro flask sandblasted with an image of Raven in her snow-machine gear. Having stuffed the hydroflask with the guava candies she loves and wiped it down with Clorox, I was wondering how to get it to her through the overlapping perimeters of quarantines and social distancing. Rae was a logical candidate. She’s a friend of mine and my ex-wife’s and, like me, she works on the North Slope. Our hitches line up so that she is home when I am at work and vice-versa. I could hand it off to her at the airport and she could get it to Raven, since she lives just around the corner.
Rae also fits in with the snow-machine angle. She, my ex, and my daughter go on bad-ass snowmachine trips that take them many miles and multiple days into Alaska’s backcountry.
Rae also explains the firepower — she’s an ex-Alaska State Trooper and one of the best moose hunters I know.
In this scenario, the iguanas end up aligned with the complications of the pandemic and the recent divorce, which seems a little unfair. I like iguanas. In the dream, they were beautiful and majestic and not menacing in any overt way. They were only dangerous because they were so much larger than Rae and me.
I think the iguanas snuck in because I’d recently read that marine iguanas can dive to depths of 100 feet and stay submerged for up to 30 minutes. I’m a scuba diver and jealous of that kind of natural ability.
I texted Rae about the dream
It seemed to weird her out. She responded saying she’d assumed the text was for someone else and deleted it.
Was it the paddle boat? Are paddle boats laden with romantic overtones?
To me, they are an exceedingly awkward, annoyingly loud aquatic conveyance, about as romantic as taking a walk on the beach tied back-to-back with my date.
I hadn’t thought to worry about the romance angle with Rae, a lifelong lesbian who isn’t interested in me in the slightest. I’m not interested back, which makes for an easy relationship: we enjoy each other’s company without any of the weirdness that can creep into male-female friendships.
Or so I thought.
I texted back:
Rae, that text was for you. We bravely and platonically delivered Raven her candy despite the chaos of war and giant reptiles. I thought it was hilarious. So did Raven when I told her.
To be clear, I consider you the ideal person to assist with the delivery of hard candy in wartime.
I have to admit I would do something like that. I prefer bears and wolves over reptiles, but it does sound like me.
Maybe it was the iguanas?
I keep my iguanas to myself these days
Whatever it was that made Rae uncomfortable in this specific instance, I have tended to keep my iguanas to myself, so to speak, since then.
Not because my iguana dream sundered my friendship with Rae — we’re fine — but because it showed me, again, how easily a misunderstanding can occur, how we don’t know what might make someone close to us uncomfortable, even when we think we know them well.
If that misunderstanding had happened with someone else, it could have spawned some seriously distracting and potentially damaging drama.
Nobody needs that.
This is a revision of a previously published article for the Dream On newsletter curated by Michelle McAfee. While I was working on it, I remembered two pieces of microfiction I wrote based on some strange dreams I had one night.
Heads up : They were unsettling dreams, and they turned into unsettling stories.