I’m not sure what city I was in, but that’s unimportant. I start out walking along the pavement with this guy I sort of know in what appears to be one of those older, formerly Middle Class areas of a city like Chicago — the houses are all rather tall and almost all of them have these wrought iron gates. Then there’s this HUGE house. Did I say HUGE? Make that HUGE house. It’s up on this hill and has this HUGE front garden with fountains.
We stop in front of it to look at this garden and the gates open so, curious, we step in an only after we’ve stepped in, we see all of these “people”, whom neither of us saw as we were just standing out on the pavement looking inward. Most of them look to be in this ambiguous sort of 25-40 age range, most of them fit, but there are maybe three or four who are really skinny and about the same number who are really fat. All of them are wearing sparse clothing, like ancient tunics and tropical sarongs, all in really elaborate patterns. They don’t really seem to be paying us much mind at first, and are just merrily gallivanting about.
I remember this garden rather vividly, even after being up for a few hours. There are a lot of almond blossom trees that are flowering, several lilacs trees, a few elaborately trimmed evergreen shrubs with the branches sort of woven into spirals. I recall a bunch of rose bushes, some of them pruned into miniature trees, but most of them not, and I noted a bunch of fuschias.
To get to the house atop the hill, there’s this really elaborate layout of steps. almost all of the steps have some kind of elaborate mosaic that looks rather Graeco-Roman. I remember remarking to my companion that a few of the figures in the mosaics included Dionysos, Apollon, Eros, Hermaphroditos, Hyakinthos, Adonis, several zodiac symbols, and some writing that I either couldn’t read or don’t remember right now.
The house itself is also oddly elaborate. It looks kind of like a cross between a Victorian octagonal house and a sort of ancient Graeco-Roman stadium. There are grape vines and rose vines growing up around a lot of columns places around the house to create a sort of “hanging garden” appearance; the house is at least three stories high and the columns go up about two and a half stories with connector beams placed at even-spaces heights in about three or four tiers. Ivy is growing up the house itself.
The doors are just wide open, so we walk right in and on either side of the entry foyer is a reproduction of the Praxiteles Eros, and there’s a really pretty fountain, the base of which appears to be all glass except for some discreet copper piping that you can see through the glass. A woman rushes over to us and announces frantically that “they” have been expecting us. In a sort of Rocky Horror kind of fashion, we’re stripped down and redressed in some elaborately embroidered linen tunics, and we’re ushered into this hallway.
In the hallway, the walls and floor and ceiling are decorated in similarly elaborate (gawd, I wish I could think of another word right now) mosaics to the steps outside. Oil lamp sconces are places pretty high up the walls at even intervals of about a couple yards each; high up enough to keep from getting knocked into, but low enough to provide adequate light. We seem to be heading rather gradually upward, it’s not very steep, but when we get to the end, there’s this HUGE room; it’s got to be about an acre in area, at least, probably more. There’s a very shallow pool about a few feet in; very shallow, only about two inches deep itself, but the water doesn’t get more than maybe half an inch deep. There are steps that water seems to be flowing down. The steps are about deep enough for an adult to comfortably sit on.
The the top of these steps, twelve or thirteen of them, if this huge sort of”window-box” shrine. It’s about four feet high and three feet deep into the wall. People have left all sorts of things there: small statuettes, bouquets of flowers, baskets of fruits, candles, hand-written pieces, and in the wall at the back inside of this “window box” is a stained glass sort of mosaic of Eros, Apollon, Adonis, and Aphrodite, and it’s illuminated in the back. On the steps are sitting and reclining and laying on their bellies several people (about seven to ten each of men and women), but about twice as many statues.
I crawl up the stairs and sit in front of the shrine, almost exactly in front of the illuminated picture. I beg my companion to come up and sit with me, as he’s stayed back before the pool. After much pleading and arm-waving, he starts up. Just as our fingers are about to touch, I wake up.