Last night I had a crazy dream that was somewhere in between “Howl Castle” and “Spirited Away”… with a bit of “My Neighbor Totoro.”
My dream went a little something like this…
First off, you have to understand how our house is. It’s a funny little house that seems like it was either a spite house, or was made in two parts, with no consideration to the functionality of the other part. It’s as wide as a car altogether and not much longer than two. I heard that at one point it was a dog kennel, and that might make sense since our kitchen, bathroom, stairs, upstairs and even windows all feel like an afterthought. The property here backs up to national forest, and I could get lost in all the land back there. I feel like I’d find a Totoro! There is a courtyard so full of life that it spills over into our house and we’re constantly surrounded by daddy long legs (which make me think of “soot sprites!”), various large mean looking spiders, all kinds of moths (some that I’ve never seen in Wrightwood before), flies, we’ve found lizards, and have one resident mouse we call “Mickey.” This mouse has avoided every attempt of ours to catch him (live trap, of course!!), and this is likely why he became the subject of my Stuido Ghibli dream.
I was sitting on the floor with Chris in our bedroom, just visiting like we do (how people used to before television!) and we were talking about Artie, our chipmunk. When he was little we kept him in an old hamster cage of mine, which did him fine until he learned to escape (before his eyes were even open, at that). For some reason, the cage was still in our bedroom, so I went to pick it up and take it out to the garage when a rather magical (in the Japanese kind of way, not the Disney kind of way) looking mouse popped out of the cage as though he’d been living there! He did a little dance hopping away from me, on me, on Chris, on our bed, just everywhere. It gave me a serious case of the heebeegeebies to see that mouse hopping around jumping on me, (though the real Mickey was much cuter than this magical dream version).
The mouse went on, hopping around taunting me. So I put on a pair of mechanic gloves that were lying around and tried just grabbing him with my hands! He kept slipping out in a really cartoon-ish way and I felt like he was laughing the whole time. After I finally caught him I had a strange feeling about him, like he wasn’t just a mouse, but some kind of a garden spirit. Without opening my hands I told Chris I was going to take a long walk and let him go.
I started walking down our street, which became a beautiful cross between Wrightwood and a Japanese forest. (If you’ve ever been to a Japanese forest you understand instantly everything Studio Ghibli, they feel so magical, like all the strange looking plants are hiding forest spirits of some kind). While walking I noticed a little path appear. It was that dark-forest dirt that you know will usually lead to a stream or some place damp like that. It was far too narrow for me to comfortably walk with my hands clasped tight as they were, but I started to walk down it. A car drove by on the road and startled me, and I dropped the mouse from my hands down the cliff a little. I crouched down to watch him, and as he scampered off, he looked like regular old Mickey.
I thought it was strange, and I was a little mixed up about what happened, so I kept walking toward town. At this point, I was in some new strange place, like a mountain town I remember from childhood mixed with Oak Glenn’s little boardwalk through the woods. I kept walking for a while until I came to a town. There was a little restaurant attached to a meeting hall and cute outdoor seating where there were a lot of town people (kind of like the Village Grind in town) except there was a little stream that passed through the area, separating the out door area and a sort of stage where people were getting ready to play.
I wanted to get to the other side and talk with the people but I couldn’t see how to cross the stream. I looked down at my feet where there were small rocks but I couldn’t hop across on them all the way, it got too deep. I kept looking for a way to cross until I came across a little porcelain jack-o-lantern with a big goofy smile. I picked it up and it was as though it was telling me it could help me cross.
Who am I to doubt a porcelain pumpkin? After all, I really felt that I had to cross the stream. As soon as I picked him up I was floating across to the other side, taking steps like I was walking but not standing on anything. Once I was across I kept asking everyone if they knew who’s pumpkin it was, since it seemed like something important. And they all seemed gruff like I was acting silly, “of course it’s a magic pumpkin” one large motorcycle rider said, “like you’ve never seen one before?” I looked at the streams edge and there were little magical looking things all over the bank.
I ran into a girl who pulled me aside and said she would take me home. I kept trying to ask more questions on my way out but I wasn’t getting a lot of answers as much as just a bunch of looks. I had the feeling they all had magical powers too, and I found some great place that I wasn’t supposed to.
As I followed this girl, she took me to a path in the stream that was easily passed with big stepping stones. I stopped and yelled to her, “I didn’t know I could cross here, I didn’t see this before, what’s going on!?” And she turned back to me and sort of laughing said, “I think that pumpkin put a spell on you.” When I looked down it was in my hand again, with it’s strange grin looking up at me and shining in the sun. Across the bank there were no magical trinkets any more and everyone had a creepy anthropomorphic aura around them.
Was it the pumpkin that put a spell on me, or that cunning resident magician who couldn’t be caught, Mickey?
I have dreams like that frequently… my mind gets very creative at night. I don’t think dreams mean very much, I think that they’re our brain’s way of having fun while we’re not doing anything.
I just think it’s funny, my mind mixed all my favorite Studio Ghibli movies.. and maybe a little cinderella in there too! After all, we do call this our Totoro house.
What’s a totoro?