i wandered away from some people i was with; there was more to the dream before this, but it’s gone.   i went outside, onto a large, square deck, moving toward the far left corner.   a heavy-set brunette woman, evidently a neighbor, who seemed familiar from the previous part of the dream, was some distance away, lower than the deck level, down a small hill, out toward the street.   she was grilling something.   she looked up at me, and we acknowledged each other’s presence without speaking.
i turned to my right, moving along the edge of the deck, sort of surveying the area around the deck, and i noticed a young girl, maybe 10 years old, unfamiliar to me, standing quietly on the far right corner of the deck.   she’d noticed me first, aware that i was moving toward her before i noticed her, and i approached her.   she seemed self-conscious. she had dark hair, carefully curled and arranged, and she wore an uncommon amount of makeup for a young girl, but it was very carefully applied; someone obviously took great care to make this girl appear “just so”.   she wore a black and white dress, and she was immaculate in every detail.   she seemed very shy, and only fleetingly met my gaze.   my observations came at a glance, taking only a moment.
as i was about to ask her who she was, where she came from, i heard the grilling lady address me, her voice coming over my shoulder, answering my unasked question, and i turned to look at her as she spoke.   she explained that the girl belonged to a new family, who’d just moved in to the house at the property adjacent to this side of the deck, gesturing toward it with her metal grilling spatula.   i turned back to the girl and introduced myself to her.   she seemed slightly more comfortable now, but she only nodded, still shy.   i looked over her head, through the branches of trees, down toward the property on that side of the deck, and noticed there were others, busy with some tasks.   among them were movers, bringing the family’s things inside.
i realized there were people all around me, in the branches of the trees immediately surrounding the deck.   i expanded my introduction of myself, directing my words toward the crowd surrounding me, “seated” like an audience in many tree branches.
as i spoke, i seemed to stop appearing as myself, becoming instead a clown.   rather, i didn’t “become” the clown; i remained myself, now portraying a clown character.   the comic nature of the clown character was that of a man portraying a female; that is, the “whole” of the character was realized in the minds of the audience by the combination of elements: a comic characterization of a woman, as obviously portrayed by a male clown, which was itself less obviously portrayed by my dream self: a man playing a male clown playing a woman.
i was costumed in a traditional interpretation of clowning, sort of a classic “sad” clown, more shabby than ludicrous, far more subtle than the stereotypical modern American clown.   my costume was directed more toward artistic intent than toward buffoonery, supporting the nature of the character.   though i never saw myself, i knew my face was made up.   my clothes were nothing elaborate, but they contained elements of both the sad clown and the female character which he portrayed.   it was as if i’d come to inhabit this character seamlessly, as i spoke, while the deck on which i was standing transformed, to serve the purpose of a stage without becoming one.   it remained a deck, but the boards inclined and leveled out, following the contours of a steep hill, which was itself surrounded by the trees of the audience.
continuing to speak, i added another layer of depth to the performance.   my words told a story, in the clown’s voice, about the female character which the clown portrayed.   this fictitious story was analagous to and paralleled true things about my dream self, like who “i” was and how “i” fit into this environment.   as i told the story i began to perform as the clown character, which in turn performed as the female character.   i danced a slow, comical ballet that was, by turns, purposely clumsy, to the audience’s amusement, and surprisingly, effortlessly deft, to their wonderment.   the audience seemed to enjoy my performance, and to appreciate / understand its multiple levels of depth.   my performance seemed to be having the desired effect; through it, the people in the audience seemed to accept and gain an understanding of me (that is, my dream self), and my (his) purpose.
as my performance continued, i began to defy physics and gravity.   i would spin impossibly slowly, or slowly descend floating from a leap, coming to rest so lightly on my feet that i seemed to weigh nothing, or ending in an improbably fluid series of tumbles.   no matter how impossible it seemed to recover from some movement, i always regained my composure, and it all seemed effortless.   my more complicated movements were connected smoothly by small, simple dance steps.   the dance demonstrated my words, its elements sometimes mirroring, sometimes comically contradicting their story, and i used both methods to communicate with the audience.
then i pushed off, executing another slow motion, gravity-defying leap, and unexpectedly found myself not descending, which alarmed me.   i grew nervous, and my story stopped, as i floated higher, no longer in control, out over the edge of the hill, where there was a steep drop.   suddenly i was very high up- too high!   but then, before my anxiety could become fear, i seemed to regain control of my motion.   i need not fall, but my performance was no longer effortless; i had to concentrate.   i literally swam through the air, and was relieved when i was back over the area of the hill i started from, and i willed myself to land.   i came to rest on the hill, in a position fully composed in the air: lying down, facing uphill, chest to the ground, elbows resting on a small mound, chin resting on hands.   as if nothing unplanned had taken place, i quietly spoke the final words of the story to the crowd.
then i realized my alarm was going off.
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