Sunday, September 6, 2015

South Dakota: 1957

I was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in late September. I arrived at Mercy Hospital, somewhere in that city. I was the third child--the third son--of a family who ended with the fifth child. A middle child in the end. All my brothers and one sister were born in Sioux Falls, and I imagine at Mercy Hospital.

I don't know what day or at what time I was born. I suppose there is some record of it somewhere. There is no longer anyone I can ask who would know such trivial facts and I am not from the type of family who is concerned with such information.

I moved away--with my family--from South Dakota after I had turned five years old. Do I have memories of the place? Yes. Some vivid, some murky, some ingrown I suppose . . . Our first house, our second house, some people, places, events. You'd be surprised what you can remember from early childhood. I can't say how being from, and living the first five years of my life in, South Dakota has shaped me.

It's a strange state, in many ways.

I can say that I have dreamt of it.

My mother was from Arlington, South Dakota. My father from Red Oak, Iowa--though he was really born in eastern Nebraska.

When I have dreamt of South Dakota, in my dream I have always known that it was South Dakota. That was explicit. In my dreams I am always not in a town but out in the countryside. My Aunt Nancy--my mother's only sibling--lived in Arlington. Actually, she lived on a farm just outside of Arlington. She and her husband--Lawrence--had five children of their own. We visited them quite a few times when I was young. Maybe that's why my dreams are outdoor dreams. My grandmother lived in a small house in Arlington, though it was very much a country house.

One dream I had was of swimming in a river under a bridge in the open spaces of South Dakota. It was summer. Warm. Golden and dry. The river was shallow and weak of current. It was a pleasant dream. It was of a sparse landscape with a scattering of trees and open yellow fields and a gravel-bottemed clear clean-water river. A pleasant and happy swim with a friend.

Another dream also had the same landscape--more plains or western than midwestern. There were the trees and golden land and distant distance. But in this dream I was visiting my mother and my mother was rejecting me. I can't recall the specifics--it was a dream--but it was not nice. It was disturbing. Yet, the landscape was of the same subtle beauty. Inviting, if potentially harsh in the long run.

Well. 1957. That's a long time ago by now, to most if not all. I should go back to South Dakota. Return. I have been back, that is, been through, but not in many years. Decades, really. If nothing else, I should try to dream of it.

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