there was some kind of commotion outside while we were having a cookout with the other tenants in this housing project. we realized the place was on fire.  a whole side of the building across the courtyard was up in flames.  ours was on fire too, but we thought maybe the fire department would put it out before we had to be evacuated. we went into a corner room, pushing past the white playpen. the room was some kind of storage closet but it had a window at ground level.  if we needed to escape we could climb out that way, i knew because had gone through it before when i couldn’t find my key but wanted the door to stay locked while i was away.
at a hotel the whole family gets rooms on the top floor but when we are one floor from the top, the stairs are dark and blocked off. signs direct us to turn right and go to our rooms there.  it’s a nice hotel and my hick family is definitely out of place.  my mom and grandma and aunts start making cement mixers and pouring them into vases and candle holders and goblets that are there for decorative purposes only.  the drinks look like literal cement mixers – blue and sludgy. they place them all on a toy train along with a selection of liquor bottles and the train goes along the railing to serve as a mobile bar.  i tell them that they can’t be too loud and if the hotel staff think we’re just hear to drink they will kick us out.  they tell me i have a good point and so between the drinks they place cartons of eggs and crack a few open so that the yolks sit precariously on the bottoms of upside down candle holders, wiggling in their wetness. they tell me they won’t get in trouble now because it’s obvious they are enjoying a meal, not just drinking.
i leave them and go into a room. it’s dark and the boys are all sitting in a circle.  they groan when i enter but agree that if it’s just me, i can stay.  i tell them the other ladies are all getting wasted out there and causing a ruckus. i take a seat next to my dream-niece who is about 8 or 9 and quietly sitting there.  she looks so clean and together compared with the rest of my family. her afro is perfectly round and her clothes neat.  i ask her if the boys are treating her well and they protest that of course they are, they’re not animals.  she nods in agreement.  i tell her that when chris and i first met he really got me with one of his lame jokes and he laughs, remembering.  he tells it to her and it’s a long rambling story that ends with his finger poking and wiggling through a hole in the crotch of his pants.  it’s stupid and childish and crude but we all laugh at this physical punchline.  i ask her if she has her inhaler.  she says no but that a man is getting it for her from the house. i’m worried that the man (the inspector from a previous dream) will be mistaken for holding  a gun in his pocket when really he is holding this little girl’s inhaler.  isn’t that how the fire started in the first place?  from a gunfight? I exit and look over the railing and see him coming up the stairs, carefully sneaking around the corners so that he remains unseen.  but i can see from my overhead view that they are watching and following, guns drawn.
In the car with peter, we sit in the back while his dad drives and his dad’s girlfriend sits in the front passenger seat. she never turns around or says anything. his dad tells us that he’s taking us to haymarket for dinner and it’s just the most elegant cuisine. he tells peter to explain it to me.  peter tells him that i know it’s nice and we don’t really want to talk.  his dad asks him if he knows his girlfriend and peter says that he does, they’ve met before and know each other from some place.  his dad says that he would have expected peter to have been more expressive in his greeting toward her in that case. i zone out of the boring family feud and stare out the window.  we’re getting closer to a giant blue mountain that is covered in snow.  i stare at the exposed rock where it is visible and its snow-covered peak against the overcast sky, willing it to draw me near. i feel like i’ve been waiting my whole life to reach this place.