This is the first time my dream has started with a voice, rather than imagery. I am not entirely sure, but I believe the dreams are gaining more substance because I've been making such a habit to write them down. Details that most people might not remember in that first cold-sweat moment after waking are now occurring to me more often and more easily. For instance, the man's watch has no numbers on its face, there is a smell of dry-erase marker when I see mathematical symbols, the bicycle is not only blue, the person's pedaling backwards, etc.

"Out of this life every land is exile."

It's a warm voice, warm like tobacco smoke and lemon furniture polish. The voice carries the archetypical classic grizzled old-eccentric-in-his-wood-paneled-study timbre. It's soothing. It's the kind of voice you want at the other end of the phone line when you've been long gone from home, and you miss it terribly.

A rousing cheer comes up from a small crowd of party people at this affectionately tendered statement, and suddenly the lights of the dream snap on. I'm dressed to the nines, I'm in some sort of side parlor in a large house, and chairs are gathered/crowded around two mismatched tables laden with a feast of fruit and wine bottles. We've been merry. Hey! Why can't my dreams start a bit earlier in the timeline, here? I haven't been to a party this friendly and decadent in quite some time. I must have been telling stories, mostly, and the audience is listening, rapt, as I talk about bits of new songs I had written, and I sing a refrain or two, and wow, the people clap and smile and their eyes are clear and shining. (I must be nervous about the recital coming up)

We're in another country, here, I know. We're the foreigners, and we're in this little room with a dozen chairs and the taste of grapes on our tongues.

The best story I tell is about the tortoise - the one from the dream breakfast. I talk about its wisdom, the way it moves through this world into the next, and how it apparently absorbs the thoughts and dreams of all who hope, and every night it spells out those wishes in faint glowing letters on its shell. It sometimes whispers, and taking a deep breath, I quickly whisper out my dreams and hopes and hurts and wants in one long breath, in a rasp that sounds exactly like a tortoise would, and the room is filled with delight and wonderment at this creature I've discovered, how I am able to recall its amazing ability.

The only hope I remember speaking is, "Him have I lost; the wish to find, the want to know, the need to hear and see."