This morning I had a dream that I can’t seem to shake off.  It was a very long dream, with multiple sections, most of which aren’t worth sharing, but the disturbing part is one in which I’m playing cello with two musician acquaintances; we’ll call them L. and A., since those are their real first initials.  A. is also a cellist, and L. is a violinist, at least in the dream.  I don’t think L. really plays the violin, but she is an excellent and fairly well-known singer and songwriter around town.

So we’re sitting in a room in A.’s house, playing through a tricky piece of classical music.  It isn’t a piece I’m familiar with in real life, and I’m not exactly struggling with it, but I’m certainly not playing at my best, and we’re all aware of that fact.  A. is prepared to overlook it, but L. puts down her violin and glares at me.  “Would you get it together, please?” she asks, crossly.

“Sorry,” I say.  “I’m still warming up.  I’ll improve, you’ll see.  Do you have any suggestions?”

“You always have questions about everything,” she snaps.  “Just play better.”

“Uhhh, okay,” I say, a little bit on the defensive now.  “I told you I’ll get better as I warm up.”

She ignores my response.  “What are you wearing?  A cube? Really?”

“What are you talking about?”  I look down to see that I’m wearing a perfectly good outfit of jeans, an orange crewneck sweater, and a black hoodie. “What’s a ‘cube’?”

She rolls her eyes, then turns back and launches into me.  “Why do people hire you? I thought you had a good reputation for playing drums, or piano, or something.”  She pauses, choosing her words for maximum damage.  “Do you really think we’re ever going to call you again? This is a total waste of our time.  And why do you dress that way?”

“What ‘way’?  I’m dressed fine.”

I’m angry now, and I decide that this has gone on long enough.  I gently place my cello on the floor, stand up and walk across the room to gather up my instrument cables, jacket, and cello case.  A. picks up my cello and holds it out in front of herself so she can inspect it.  I walk back toward her and crouch down to see what she’s looking at.  There are two metal clasps on either side of the back (cellos don’t really have clasps on the back) that are hanging loose.  I tell A., “I’ve never seen those before, but I’m guessing they’re supposed to be tightened, aren’t they?”  I reach over and tighten the one nearest me, and A. tightens the other one.  I notice out of the corner of my eye that L. is glaring at me with a look of disapproval.

Next, A. pulls out a long piece of white twine and starts to thread it through the back of the cello, making a square pattern that is raised about an inch above the back of the instrument.  “What’s that for?” I ask her, which makes L. scoff loudly from across the room.  A. finishes with the twine, and I take my cello over to the case and put it inside, avoiding L. as much as I can in the process.

The dream’s location changes, and the three of us are in A.’s yard.  She is walking across the lawn toward L. and me, and she says, “I carried your cello to your car for you.”

“Oh, thanks.”  I put my hand on the back of her shoulder.  “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I don’t mind.  It was nice to play with you,” she says.

I don’t entirely believe her, but at least her attempt at platitudes is better than L.’s blatant hostility.  “Thanks, you too,” I tell her.  “See you around.”

L. stands and silently watches me grab my remaining things and walk across the grass toward the dirt road where my car is parked.  For some reason, it’s not my current car, which I also have in the dream, but my first car instead, an ancient blue Toyota station wagon.

I notice that it has a new dent on the driver’s side, where someone has attempted to pry the door open.  The back hatch is raised, thanks to A, and the car and its contents are covered in a thick layer of dust from when cars have driven past on the dirt road.  I throw my belongings in the back, slam the hatch and open the slightly mangled front door.  I brush the dust from the seats and steering wheel, sit down, start the car and drive aimlessly for a while, until I realize that I’ve left a small bag of cables and music gear at A.’s house.  I’m not at all excited to go back over there, but I need my things, so I turn around and head back, with a sense of dread and foreboding.

That’s the point at which I wake up, so you can imagine why I’m stuck feeling kind of blue today.