All is Fair in DreamsApril 4, 2017
Russell tweeted when the fire started. We were already in bed after dropping Ben off at Eli’s and deciding not to go. We went to sleep worried about Russell’s gear, never imagining what lay on the other side of morning. When we woke up we checked in; from bed I pulled up the Google doc with all those names. I called, I texted, “Are you okay?/ Have you heard from so and so?” Trying so hard to tick someone as “Alive.” Brandon said Kate was with him till late. The rest of the day moved slow like goo. Waiting for news, praying to something, something I never pray to, that somehow they would all walk around the building and be fine, just fine. We’d sigh a collective sigh and then cry and then laugh an uncertain laugh. But the day dragged on and on and denied us of any of that. What the day did bring, on top of the film of horror now covering every part of life, was a broadcast barrage of misinformation, a maligning of their names, a tarnishing of their spirit and their intent and their lives. It became a gruesome duality, indescribable pain and uncertainty burning in our insides and anger and fever burning on our outsides. We barely spoke to one another. Almost too shy to take up room, to say, “Hey, I’m feeling torn up inside, like, really torn up, like I might not be okay, all of us might not be okay.”
Midday came amidst blank stares and millions of texts confirming that some friends were alive, though not okay. Stumbling over dumb words of sympathy when we didn’t know what to feel. We looked at each other at some point and M said that he was thinking of Travis, of this song. That stayed with me, stored in my brain like a muffled sentence heard in a dream might. Just earlier that year we played a bill with Travis and Denalda and Charlie at Life Changing Ministries. It was the sort of fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I remember Travis’s intensity when he sang that night, the way his face became angular and sharp, which sat in opposition to how it was usually so soft and open. Introflirt busily ran around before their set making sure their hair and looks were just right, only to let it all melt off and became so singular in their shared vision on stage. Two birds born of one egg.
When Art Practical asked us to pay homage some days after the fire we knew we didn’t want to write anything. What could we say that hadn’t been said before? Words weren’t and aren’t enough but something about making a song felt closer, still imperfect, but closer. Closer to our shared language, closer to the life they led, closer to the place they’re all at laughing and dancing forever and ever.
All is Fair in Dreams is a song by Travis and his band Ghost of Lightning. We love this song. It speaks to us from inside and outside. It sounds like it could be them speaking to us, all of us who feel their absence, and us speaking to them. When I sang the words, I imagined myself touching a membrane and a world of familiar hands touching us back from the other side.