I was flying back east through Atlanta. Missed my connection. A great southern rainstorm settled in. Warm deluge. Flights east were postponed, then cancelled. I took a rental car from Hartsfield-Jackson airport down to the Ritz-Carlton on Peachtree Road. I knew someone who lived close by. We had never met but she was a close online friend. I signed on from my hotel room, sent her a message, left my room number. She called back and we agreed to have dinner at Nakato’s, a small Japanese restaurant that, in waking life, I have often been to when traveling through or visiting Atlanta on business (try their Hibachi Scallops, delicate and delicious).
Dreams, like cinema, often edit themselves. There was no car ride, no time, no first moment of meeting, we were just both sat at the window that overlooks the Japanese gardens. A young woman in a red silk kimono poured wine. My friend I’d never met looked very familiar to me, perhaps she was an amalgam of people. She smiled and said “It’ll be two hundred.” I said: “That’s OK, I’ll expense it. And two hundred for the best sushi in town and a rare opportunity to actually meet is worth every penny.”
“No,” she said. “It’ll be two hundred for the sex we’re going to have when we go back to your room after dinner. You’re going to say that you weren’t even thinking about making love to me, but you were. And then you’re going to say that you don’t need to pay for it, but you do. If you pay for it, you’ll be turned on by the illicit nature of the transaction, but you’ll also find it easier to compartmentalize this night. You’ll be able to go back to your wife and think of this as a completely closed book. You won’t worry that I might think this is any more than what we both know it is.”
I never carry much money on me. I went to a cash machine. She was waiting in the car. It was dark, still raining. I got back in and suddenly realized she looked so familiar to me because she was my wife. But not, in the dream, my wife. I gave her the money, wondering who I would find when I finally got back home. We drove to the hotel.