I have phases during which I vividly recall my dreams, and I’m in one now. I wake up, and the images and action and scenes and dialog seem burned into my synapses. I retell the “stories” to myself and write them down in a notebook, and I also, from time to time, think I figure out why I dreamed what I did. Just as often, I cannot fathom the reason for the dreams, and simply enjoy the mise-en-scène. I am doing that as I write this, and Charlie Trotter is on my mind.

You see, last night I dreamed a Chicago dream, and Charlie Trotter and I hung out and ate and drank together, and we walked up and down sidewalks and streets and ended up at his townhome, late in the evening. We sat in his kitchen — as I imagined it … I never set foot in Trotter’s kitchen, or his home for that matter — and the hours passed and the conversation flowed. We cooked breakfast as the sun rose.

What did we talk about? I can remember France, and a trip down a canal on a barge, a pet Trotter had as a child, his father’s car, and the wallpaper of a hotel room in Paris. Earlier in the dream — it was winter, a Chicago winter — the steam coming from our mouths and nostrils as we stood under a streetlight and talked seemed especially visceral, though I have not the faintest idea why. Also, the condensation on his eyeglasses sticks in my mind.

The overall feeling of the dream is comfort, despite Trotter’s infamous personality. We apparently were friends, as we discussed trips we had been on together, wines we had shared. It was, as opposed to many dreams I have, unencumbered by the slightest sense of anxiety or angst or conflict. It left me feeling warm and part of a network of grace and kindness.

In 2009, I met Charlie Trotter in Abu Dhabi at a dinner he prepared.

Why, or how, did the morning become odder, odder than the dream itself? Because, in what seems a Jungian shadow-happening, the first email message I clicked on this morning while giving a few minutes to the ongoing process of clearing out my inbox included two photos of Charlie Trotter and me, taken in 2009 in Abu Dhabi. I decided to delete emails with the .ae suffix, and the message containing those images — which I had forgotten about — was the first one on the resultant search list. I opened it, unaware of the attached photos, and sat and pondered.

I’m not sure why it happened, and I don’t have a lot of time right now to figure it out. Nor do I know why I dreamed about Trotter and hanging out with him in Chicago. Perhaps reading about the closing of Grace was the impetus? Who knows … Dreams are mysterious, their meanings can be evasive and perplexing. I’ll figure this one out, eventually. Until then, I’ll relish those feelings of grace and warmth, and the sensual experiences of cooking, drinking, and eating with the departed chef.