Clown Car


Brushes with folks who’ve flown off the planet have tempered my dreams recently.  Not entirely sure why they’re lining up but it really doesn’t matter.  There are some things that just defy “knowing” and must be chalked up to the spirit world simply fucking with the mortals.  Perhaps feeling an odd and comforting sense of Richie Havens’ presence at his City Winery memorial (a story for another day) opened the portal but, whatever the reason, my most recent “sighting” was the coolest yet.

Usually, my dreams are like slide shows rather than movies. One image leads into another and another and sometimes I remember them, but most times not.  On occasion I’ll have one of those epic feature film dreams, anchored in the Sci-fi or Horror genre, which wakes me in confusion and a cold sweat.  Somewhere, in a journal perhaps, there’s an unfinished piece of writing entitled “Petersen and the Killer Cabbages” that grew out of one of those crazy dreams.  I should revisit it … after I find it.

Anyway … this recent dream wasn’t a slide show, wasn’t epic, it was more like… I dunno ….let’s say … a Pixar short film.  I was standing in a queue chatting with some unidentifiable people about a trip I would be taking with my cousin Lonnie and her husband, Rich. I was a little concerned and anxious that they were late.  Then I felt a car drive up behind me and heard a familiar voice say “Hiya Karen!  We’re here!!”  Happily, I turned toward the voice and saw Lonnie and Rich in a car driven by Lonnie’s sister Cookie.

Two important things to note here:  The car was a sort of beige colored “clown car!”  It looked almost like a cartoon drawn by hand, its shape reminiscent of the early model VW Beetle but with NO room in the back.  The three of them were hilariously squished into the front seats, which seemed to be the ONLY seats in the car.  But, most importantly (or maybe not), Cookie’s been gone almost 4 years.

As Lonnie and Rich squeezed out of the car, I ran around to greet and kiss Cookie.  It was so wonderful to see her!  Unlike her last days in the dance with cancer, she looked absolutely beautiful; her face radiating happiness and peace and her shoulder length, gently layered brown hair fluttering in the soft wind.  We kissed cheeks and then, of course, I woke up.

Having a sense that Lonnie might enjoy hearing about my dream, I e-mailed a short version of it to her.   This was her first response:

“Thank you for sharing this Karen

It brings tears to my eyes.

I know it’s her way to get a message to us that she is ok.”

To which I replied, “BELIEVE ME …  SHE’S FABULOUS!”

To which (and THIS is the COOL part) she replied:

“It is really amazing.

How did you know to describe the car as a “clown car”?????

When we’d be riding somewhere and she’d see a small car she’d look at it, then look at me and say “Clown Car”!!!!!

I know she sent the message through you!!


The term “clown car” became a part of my personal lexicon at a very young age having spent countless nights at the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus with dad when I was a kid (come to think of it, my Uncle Paul, on my mother’s side, left town with a carnival back in those old days but that story needs its own page). And then when I got my first VW Bug back in 1974, it often had too many passengers in it so the “clown car” label was a no-brainer. Most recently, while preparing for my move to NYC, after donating tons of my stuff to various organizations and friends I still had seemingly endless bags and bags of trash to put in the dumpster before moving.  Not knowing where all the trash was coming from or when the trips to the dumpster would end, I started calling my Jersey City apartment a “clown car.”

BUT, here’s the news flash … I DIDN’T know “CLOWN CAR” had been a fun thing the sisters shared when they were driving around.   Had the dream been postmarked with a special metaphysical stamp for validation?  Could be.  And how cool is THAT?!?  And maybe Cookie’s been trying to get into Lonnie’s dreams but needed a reliable detour.  I don’t know but the whole experience was really cool.  I just love these “cosmic winks.”

In fact, not long after he died, dad showed up in a dream in which I was driving my 1974 VW bug up the very steep side of a rustic looking, wooden waterslide.  Dad was in the back seat and I could see his face in the rear view mirror.  I had no idea why we were there, of ALL places.  A WATERSLIDE?  IN AN AUTOMOBILE?  SERIOUSLY!?!?  I was afraid of what might be ahead and HATED waterslides and other rollercoasters.  As we slowly approached the top of the hill my stomach tightened and I clenched the wheel tighter.  The next thing I saw was a sign that read “Welcome to Jelly Stone” and it made me smile.  Dad and I used to watch Yogi Bear together and mimic the voices … he was always Yogi and I was Boo Boo. The sense of dread was completely gone.  And, just as I was about to drive over the side of that waterslide and down toward who knows where, he said, “You’ll be okay driving alone.”  And then he was gone.  And then I woke up.

I guess he knew (or I knew) there were rapids were ahead of me.  And he was right.  Even though it’s not what I consciously choose, I have been okay “driving alone.”

Through the years, when forced to ponder mortality, I’ve chosen to believe that the spirits of people who have been or always wanted to be closer to us are freer to move around and through us, manifesting love and guidance in ways they were unable to when alive (or not).  Maybe we’re also more willing or more open to feeling them near us.  Whatever it is or isn’t, here’s something to consider:  if the law of conservation of energy tells us “energy is neither created nor destroyed,” wouldn’t it follow that, once the aging, constricting physical body falls away, the energetic body would HAVE TO expand back to its original childlike potency free to fly?  I like to think so.

And dream wisdom or other inexplicable moments (which may or may not make it into future posts) confirm, in my world at least, that something greater than we are is, indeed, out there; animating the life we live, connecting with and whispering into our hearts, delivering guidance when we need it most and in ways that take our breath away.

I am so grateful to have been touched by Cookie and to be able to bring light to Lonnie’s heart.


Life, itself, is a clown car … isn’t it?


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