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Here's a Thought

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Dreams

 

Then I woke up.
They say you should never end a story with that phrase, so I've stuck it at the beginning.
The constant, surprising noises outside ensured a fitful sleep. Yet every so often I'd find a long enough lull to shut my eyes and really get somewhere.

Somewhere. Out the door and down the street and on and on.
The new room was pink. Like a womb. I knew it was New York outside even though I couldn't see, hear, or smell anything beyond the walls. Sometimes you just know things, you can't explain it, it's just objective knowledge that you can't debate. In this case, New York was outside.
Something ripped open and out I tumbled onto soft plush stairs, rolling down the softest steps. Walls flapping in the senseless wind like sheets, revealing a bigger room beyond wherever I was now. I was no longer falling Ė gravity having given up on me Ė but was now being dragged over bumps and divots that anyone else would have called furry steps.

Through that a belief infected me. Clearly. That I was in pain. Perhaps it was a symbol representing the void in my waking life I couldnít particularly pinpoint, or the blood pouring out of the cuts in my head thanks to the constant tumble and drag in the sleeping life, but it was a strong feeling I just couldnít shake.

I closed my eyes and they opened to the room behind the rippling curtains becoming flooded with light and I saw truly once and for all that this was a ghost New York down to the last inch of dirt on the street sign at 43rd street and the Avenue of the Americas. I saw myself roll down that final block to stop perfectly in an empty Times Square with a pink sky above and black pavement below.

Both of me read the ticker crawl that flashed high above the streets: ĎThis story is overí. One of us believed it and woke up far away.

Half of everything got completely simple. Sleep but no longer a chance to dream. The other half stayed in a pseudo-New York, trying to smell the steam rising out of the sewer grates and judge its authenticity on a scale of one to five.

As I arrived on the sidewalk with the armed forces recruiting station staring down at me, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. Catching my gaze on torn posters, half dead graffiti, broken chunks of sidewalk concrete, faceless skyscrapers infected with billboards on their lower floors, and a dizzying array of lights that seemed all the more oppressive in the wake of near silence save for the scraping of my shoes on the ground.

And I couldnít tell what was the truth behind what I was seeing because I was trapped within it, within the maybe real and maybe illusion. I was part of the background, and it was all background, all the time. When I stepped forward, everything stepped back. Front and centre and breathing like a clueless devil. I was reaching out for shadows and ornately decorated film sets as the secret cameramen and boom mike operators scampered for the exits.
I thought about giving chase but worried I would catch a piece of it all on the underside of my shoe and bring the whole dream to a crashing halt.

I remained frozen for an untold amount of time. It must have been that because the clock on one of the news tickers never changed. Not once. Everything was slowly being put back in place just for the likes of me.
In the next moment Ė when the waves of fear passed Ė I walked down the street and slipped into the sky. I floated over everything like a giant parade balloon, and people appeared on the streets below for the sole purpose of being able to crane their necks and bump into each other as they tried to follow me up Seventh Avenue towards the park.
I wanted this to be real and that seemed good enough to make it so. Desire. Projecting my own reality in whatever form or capacity that I could. My will to power. Making nineteenth century German philosophers proud. I had won a prize I could not conceive of until I realized that I very well could. It was all within my power and yes, suddenly there it was a trophy decked out in all the proper regalia. Gold and shining, intricate design and dedication, a bowl festooned with all the typical bumps and flourishes that I certainly donít know the names for. It was just sitting there, on the roof of the building at the northeast Seventh Avenue and east Fiftieth Street, beside the ventilation fans.
I reached out for the cup, but the earth and all that grew from it rippled coyly, and it moved further away. A second attempt yielded identical results. As did the usually charmed third time. I didn't scream, but the dread that came over me made my skin crawl and turned my insides into a black hole sucking me up from the inside out.
Oh well, I thought, just a dream and all that. But for some stupid reason, some other valuable part of me never wrapped its tiny mind round this all-too-important point and so the assured half of me was trying to calm the other half down, shushing and consoling and reminding it that it will all be over soon. And I try pinching myself to death in this fake world but it isn't working. And then my relaxed side became infected with the quickening heartbeats and short breaths and worst-case scenario thoughts and then suddenly all of me was freaking out. An ambling dream that never ends becomes a nightmare so quickly, and I suddenly fool myself into believing that if I just reach a bit further for the cup, put my whole body into it, focus with Buddha-like calmness, it would all turn out for the better.
The cup became my momentary everything.

And people do some pretty extreme and irresponsible things when it comes to absolutely everything, or at least what they believe is absolutely everything.

I was no exception. I would not be separating myself from the actions of the masses any time soon. I panicked and lunged and wheezed and moaned like the rest of us, proving for any supreme entity watching that I certainly was too, too human.

And that sounded like the end of a story, a perfectly place to wrap it up as I began plummeting to a quaking, nauseous earth, ready to truly wake up like we all do mere fractions of seconds before we hit the ground.
Instead the story ended and the book closed. And was duct taped shut and thrown in the fire. A large fireplace in a small cabin. The warmth soothed me where I stood. But as I take a step towards the opposite wall it begins to dance away from me and turn from well laid logs to grey concrete. The warmth of the fire still licks my ass, but I could tell I had no business in calling this a winter retreat anymore.

The wall pushed out and the ceiling rose. The building expanded like an inflating lung. Warmth and intimacy was being replaced by sterile warehouse vibe. Glass and entranceways forced themselves through the walls. Artificial plants and pedestrian tiles sprouted from beneath my feet. Banners and signs promising sizable savings unfurled. I was in a failing shopping mall, one on the way out, soon to be torn down in favour of a cluster of mid level condominiums. The flagship and designer shops have been replaced with second hand and dollar stores. The demographic has moved to the lower classes and old age.

And I am here because it used to be mine. The local mall, the childhood memories of mundane and oft-repeated steps and store perusals. The grey trip to the two level parking garage in the back. It was all an attempt at familiarity. Havenít travelled far, really. Just a couple short blocks and a handful of years. Ashes to ashes and such musings like that. Try retracing your steps to a tee. Make you way to the back of the mall, as the crowds thin out and the stores become small government offices and employment centres, and cold day cares. Line yourself up perfectly with the double doors that welcome you to the illustrious parking garage. Run up and down the lanes trying to find the 1986 buick station wagon that was a passing mark on your yawning childhood.

And as I try to head over that way I get caught through one of the new doorways and find myself in a room that was once pink.

I could tell I was in the suburbs. It rang out to me clearly, nobody was forcing my hand. No windows still. It was the bones looking beyond the impossible walls.

The room had no centre, it was shivering and shifting like a drunken membrane. I still had one foot on the unappealing tiled floor of the dying mall. I was caught between memories and had abandoned meaning on the top of a New York City skyscraper. I was waiting without a watch for a small dose of constancy.

No, not even constancy. Direction. Reassurance. A shard of a priori knowledge, even if only for a moment.

A room full of pregnant promise. Waiting there with other possible stories passing through my mind. This happened, that happened, could have should have would have happened. These all bubble to the wall surface and pop. A long and winding solution I find myself staring at with unrepentant expectation.

I hear myself and it sounds vaguely alien: Something should be happening.

And finally someone else came out of the ether.

It was a her. An Eve I suppose, but perhaps that makes me both Adam and the creator, and itís disorienting to be pulling comparisons out of creations myths, but I look at what I have in my hands and find thereís not much else except the simple and expected.

I have neither the skill nor the time to build the skill to do much else. Here, the immediate situation must be confronted head on. There is already too much to do for me to worry about the language, even if it alone was responsible for all I saw around me.

-but the language is everything, she says softly, opening her mouth for the first time.

And that throws everything back into a state of confusion. I donít know whatís important anymore. I donít know if I should expand my knowledge or plow the immeasurable and never ending fields.

But Iím trying to keep it local and stare at her and into her, to understand what imaginary skin she and the blond-then-brown-then-black hair is truly made of. Her voice had no echo, just a tempered earnestness and a naked smile, it is like weíre trapped in a broken elevator. A rattle inside me whispers that she is only levels of light.

It also means sheís in my head and in my hands and paper. A voice inside my skull but sitting pleasantly across from me. Outside of me. Just for me.

-Iím not a part of you. We are both part of a larger everything.

I have not yet opened my mouth.

Itís a real pain in the ass to find out you been searching for the palace of wisdom in a completely antiquated and ass-backwards manner.

Actually no, whatís a real pain in the ass is finding out that the real quest of just wanting a better nightís sleep is running parallel to some grand experiment of discovering and dissecting said palace of wisdom.

Everything is interconnected. The cure and the disease are working hand in hand against me. I try to go on the offensive.

-I donít know you or what you want, but you are living in my head, which means youíre either a product of my imagination or I have a very special head.

-you donít have a special head, and Iím not a product of your imagination, she responds and never loses that smile and soft butter eyes.

-is it a collective consciousness thing? Like what Jung was talking about?

-kind of.

Kind of. Bah, what an answer. Iím becoming disappointed at this feminized yang of myself. I want a thread or a strand of this eveningís activities to wrap up properly, ambiguity left in the box at the door. At least have a kernel of something resembling truth at its core. If the spirits can do it all in one night for Scrooge, certainly they can throw me a proper bone.

-I canít tell the difference between waking and sleeping, I confess to my sweet mirror, there are no answers in the realm of what Iíve decided is real and I am now seeking answers elsewhere. Who knows what grand supposedly self-evident truths Iíve accidentally buried under a mountain of expendable memories? What kind of shining beacons of hope can I find amongst the pointless clutter?

-you shouldnít feel that a single moment of your life is pointless or expendable.

I couldnít keep this one bottled up.

-oh, please donít tell me that Iím supposed to understand that every moment counts.

Her right eyebrow raised inquisitively. No, more than inquisitively. I was going to be politely grilled.

-you donít think thatís true?

-I thinkÖ itís clichťd, I said choosing my words with care.

-and what is wrong with clichť? Perhaps it becomes clichť because itís so often repeated because itís true.

-well-

-and the fact that you are resisting it on such ignoble grounds suggests that you are guilty of not following itís advice.

-look-

-the truth is always staring at you in the face, but that doesnít mean itís easy. The truth hurts, and it even kills. But itís still truth.

Despite damning accusations she was pleasant to no end. The mystery of the spirit werenít difficult. They just were. I was falling in love with the resolution and power within myself. My heart was being batted across a gulf of a tennis court. But that didnít mean I was swallowing a message I was being accused of deserting several times in the past. I could feel an accusing force behind her shining veneer. Screaming, imploring that I take the weighted gift that was being thrust upon me.

She was becoming more beautiful and distant every second. The words were over. The lesson dangling like low hanging fruit. She was falling away from me with a kind smile despite my rude spurning of the lesson that I still have in my hands. She shrunk to a circle and the circle became a shining knob, and I was confronted once again with mock choices with mock results hiding behind them.

My epiphany was over.

More doors and doorways and they still donít mean anything other than recurring change. The symbols are rusting on their hinges. Hollows options hover in front of me, and they all become stains on my darkened bedroom ceiling.

The totality of my dream is hanging above myself like a curious bat. Endless pseudo-possibilities spin above my slumbering form.

But the most important moments of this journey through the subconscious take place beyond symbols and smoking mirrors. Decisions made in the pitch-black recesses of the mind. The shine of the brightest trophy summarily extinguished. Every popped blood vessel and heart palpitation forgiven and erased. The charade is over and the set is struck as the real sun is splitting the horizon. I had my chance to embrace change in the arms of a beautiful siren under a multicoloured sun a top the highest spire of a castle built on pure imagination, but instead am forcing myself to make backroom dealings as the sleepy sands of time run up against the glass in the very middle of the most senseless nowhere.

A static part of me is still pressing the emergency stop button. Even here there are poor attempts at the escape to wakefulness. Iím doing everything in my power to keep myself in this dark black coda as time crumbles around me, fighting for the tiebreaking vote to topple the deadlock of 0-0. Something must be done.

Even the wrong thing?

Says a tiny voice that should never be completely locked away.

Yes, I whisper in complete silence, to err is very human this time of year.

No paper is drawn up. No handsome signature at the bottom of a now treasured document. But I make promises with the future. I renegotiate my quivering, fragile destiny. I agree to move forward in uncertainty for a sake that still slips through my fingers. There is no fine print. I am a ghost making promises to a cloud of possibility.

My unconscious self in unremarkable sheets twists and turns. Change in the modus operandi of the entire unit is not without physiological effects. A knot in the real and imagined stomach is tightening. Endorphins are released post-haste.

Okay. Something is going to be done. The line was crossed somehow. Consequences are preparing to push down my door. Time for gritted teeth and impossible grins.

But I did not awake, no. The game has changed but the platform remains the same. I slept. It was not fitful or enriching. It was of stock word jumbles and echoes of hallways and rooms I had ventured before. Placed in a blender and poured into a crack in my blinking forehead.

My adventure in the careless halls of untimed sleep cared not a whit for the state of the sun. I found myself in a cleansed city with a renewed sense of purpose.
This time I kept my feet on the ground.

 

 

with The Wire no longer on television, there is no longer a need for the medium