My favorite dreams are about floating on balloons (always balloons that I make and attach to a chair, not commercial hot-air balloons).
I think it was in 1992 — I was about 26 — that I had the best dream ever. At this time, I was reduced to living at home with my parents. I was four years into my bedridden journey of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In June of 1989, I had dropped out of UCLA and accomplished nothing since.
Mom and dad lived on seven acres in rural Newcastle, about 45 minutes drive north of Sacramento. The home was 2471 square feet and was valued at $393,000 in June 2012.
I was lonely and hopeless. I feared I would never get well and that I would be destined to pass my life as I had it now — a couple of good hours a day, a mile of walking, the occasional telephone conversation and the rest of my time spent in bed listening to my own tortured thoughts.
The main thing that inspired me was Dennis Prager and his presentation of Judaism. I had dozens of his lectures on cassette tape and my parents read to me the Jewish books he recommended. On occasion, Rabbi Yitzhok Adlerstein would call me in answer to one of my fevered letters. It was a great kindness when I was feeling most desperate.
One night I dreamed I attached numerous balloons to my chair until –without planning it — I floated high into the sky and caught a gulf stream and floated south over the Pacific. I rushed through the night and the clouds were variously dark and grey and purple. Jet airliners flew past me and I felt deliriously free and happy. Eventually the clouds parted and I landed in New Zealand.
That’s when I woke up. The dream was so vivid that I still remember it decades later. It left me feeling happy for days.
I knew that as things stood, I would never get well. I knew that I lacked common sense and would be unable to figure out things on my own. I knew, however, that I was good at connecting with certain people and that if I could just put myself in front of enough of them, one of them would find a way for me to get on in life.
I started placing singles ads in Jewish and secular publications, seeking salvation from single females, and a tiny trickle of women made their way to my home, some to stay for a weekend or a week. Each ad was like a little balloon pulling me up to a better life. Eventually, I attached myself to enough balloons that I floated away from home, converted to Judaism in 1993, moved to Orlando and lived with a woman who took me — willingly and gratefully — to her psychiatrist, Daniel Golwyn, who prescribed Nardil and placed a great deal of reality and normality within my grasp never to be relinquished.
According to Wikipedia, Nardil aka “Phenelzine is used primarily in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Patients with depressive symptomology characterized as “atypical”, “nonendogenous”, and/or “neurotic”, have been reported to respond particularly well to phenelzine. The medication has also been found to be useful in patients who do not respond favorably to first and second-line treatments for depression, or are said to be “treatment-resistant”. In addition to being a recognized treatment for major depressive disorder, phenelzine has been found in studies to be effective in treating dysthymia, bipolar depression (BD), panic disorder (PD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), bulimia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
Around 2004, an attractive young woman would blog that I was very Danny Deckchair. According to the movie description on IMDB.com: “An Aussie becomes a national sensation when he lifts off in his deck chair tied to balloons.”
I have never have taken a hot-air balloon ride in real life, though I loved to watch them float by when I lived in the Napa Valley, but for that money I could buy many Dennis Prager lectures. For $80, for instance, I could buy four of his talks on men’s sexual nature.