Not-So-Sweet Dreams (and Flying Machines in Pieces On the Ground)
I have a recurring dream in which my teeth are falling out.
The dream offers no explanation – no background history of severe tooth decay, chronic tobacco chewing, gum cancer, or baseball bats to the kisser.
Just the horrible feeling of wiggling the tooth with my tongue, noticing the excess space in the sockets of my gums, and the slight pinch of pain as the roots detach themselves from the fertile gum soil – the sickening crunching sound of severed – what – nerves? ligaments? capillaries? as I pinch my fingers over the bone and it breaks free with only the slightest expenditure of energy.
I take really good care of my teeth. I floss every day. I want these puppies to last, you know?
So when I dream about them falling out for no determinable reason?
It freaks me the fuck out.
Aside from the disturbingly vivid teeth dreams, my subconscious ramblings in the middle of the night rarely leave me with a waking feeling of unease, because, well, I rarely remember them at all.
I might recall an image here or a feeling there, but it’s uncommon that they’re realistic enough to leave any kind of lasting impression.
But, like I mentioned earlier today, this weekend was a doozie.
We had power outages, severe storms, and tornadoes ripping through our town (and in some cases our homes). Walking through the ‘hood with my pups the next morning, I felt like the sole person to wake after the apocalypse – not a soul to be seen at 9:00 a.m. on a gorgeous Sunday morning because when people opened their eyes to the absence of ringing alarm clocks, whirring fans, morning television news casts, it’s like they decided the pain of it all was too much to bear and they’d best wait out the torment in bed.
I mean… there’d be no coffee.
I’ll admit that one had me down a little, too.
It felt like I was in a Stephen King novel when 2 guys came gunning down the deserted streets in their pickup truck, made an abrupt turnaround in a driveway ahead of me, stopped their vehicle in my path and proceeded to inform me of news from the outside world:
Yep, it would take at least 5-8 days to restore power to this part of town.
Yep, Fort Bragg is closed and they’re not letting any traffic through.
Yep, the Food Lion has a generator but they’re already completely out of nonperishable items, ice, AND BEER, so don’t even bother wasting your gas because the pumps aren’t working, either.
Yep, we most certainly are still drunk from last night. I burned my hand while trying to start a fire – SEE? – but it’s no biggie because we won’t even be able to get out of this neighborhood for like a month.
I told them to be careful and sent them on their way. I seriously would’ve been more worried if there’d been… you know… people around.
But they did come out eventually, blinking in the sun’s bright rays like bears after a long hibernation, the pallor stained by artificial lighting on their skin already fading with exposure to the outside world. Soon, the sound of children laughing and playing in the streets and neighbors actually conversing was even stranger than the empty streets of 9:00 a.m.
There was no t.v.
There were no video games.
We cooked our breakfast outside on the grill, the sweat from my dog walking venture dripping down the small of my back, and everything tasted good. Everything looked good. Honestly? Aside from the knowledge that others were suffering for the very same reasons, everything – to me – felt good.
The surrealness of it all was topped off when Justin woke me abruptly at 5:00 a.m. today to tell me he’d been called into work and was heading out. Because he woke me in the thick of a dream, I was coherent enough to remember it in vivid detail – something that almost never happens – and I immediately wrote it down under the covers with a book light like I sometimes used to do with my journal when I was a kid.
This dream took up 3 pages in my journal, which really isn’t a journal but a notebook where I write down ideas when they pop into my head. Mostly writing ideas and sometimes doodles.
I like to doodle.
Because I don’t have any other pictures in this post, here’s a doodle I did back when I had to take a really boring training class and I was losing my mind at my cubicle job:
So. Now that I’ve wasted eight hundred billion words leading up to my dream, I’m just going to give you the gist – not the full 3-page version – of the dream I wrote about in my notebook:
Basically, I followed Erin – remember her? – into a pet shop in the mall of all places (Erin and I went thrift shopping together, by the way – never the mall), except the pet shop was mostly filled with childrens’ clothes. But, below the hanging onesies and bib overalls and teeny wittle ruffled socks were these plexiglass bins filled with kittens.
I picked out a tiny little gray and black kitten to hold while I made my way back to what I really wanted to see, which were the puppies. While I worked my way through the ridiculously crowded store, the kitten’s claws were digging into my skin as it crawled all over my sweater and bit my hands and chewed my ears and just became an all-around mildly painful nuisance. I eventually put it on the floor, where it latched its uncannily strong feline jaws onto the strap of my flip-flop and let me drag it to the back of the store.
One of the store clerks, who was lazily lounging around on the floor, shot me a mildly irritated look when I arrived at the empty puppy bins, but I spotted my brother Joel, who is 11 years my senior (you’re welcome, Joel), happily playing with a puppy towards the back. But before I could get to him or say anything, the clerk told me I had to put the kitten back where I’d found it.
I finally found the bin from where I’d grabbed the thing in the first place, my skin feeling severely scratched and threads on my sweater were coming loose, and I couldn’t put the kitten inside the bin because this lady – this crazy lady – had her papers scattered all over the lid! She was a teacher or something, and while it wasn’t strange in the dream that a teacher should be going over her attendance sheets in a children’s clothing/pet store in the mall, I wonder now what exactly was in those Negra Modelos I’d so zealously consumed the day before.
In my haste to detach the kitten from my skin and put it back safely behind plexiglass where it belonged, I lifted the hinged lid before she’d removed the last of her papers, and an extremely important attendance sheet slid back behind the bin and onto a hard-to-reach space on the dirty floor. I apologized profusely while a store clerk – one who was decidedly less lazy than the girl at the back of the store – used one of those schmancy reaching/gripping tools to fetch the paper and return it safely to its owner.
In my relief at the paper’s safe retrieval, I looked at the woman for the first time in the dream to offer her a smile and my sincere apology for almost losing one of her precious records. And – I swear to God – she looked just like like the mom from the Goonies.
Whiskers and all.
She returned a heartless “thanks,” and just as I was turning to head back to the puppies, she made me turn back towards her with a cough.
Very seriously, very realistically, she said, “They give some women the death penalty for doing something like that, you know.”
And I did know. In the dream, it made perfect, sickening sense.
It gets a little fuzzy after that. I remember that I started to argue but she told me that it happened frequently in Iraq, and then I went off on some tangent about Big Brother and Russia and Communism and how people would never be motivated to perform well at work if they weren’t allowed to keep any of their hard-earned money, and then suddenly (except it seemed normal in the dream) I was alone in the food court, and Jimmie, a guy I work with at the bar, was behind the counter of one of the places but I couldn’t tell him about the crazy lady in the pet store because he was too busy to talk, and at the Asian place next door, someone was ordering a wheat wrap with asparagus, spinach, and broccoli (except they were out of broccoli which turned out to be okay with the girl who was ordering) and red beans.
I noticed the beans were very, very watery.
It mattered NOT that this was supposed to be an Asian food court restaurant.
I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking, She didn’t shorten that dream AT ALL.
But I assure you, I did.
What the hell am I supposed to do with my life now?
Be wary of crazy old women sending me death threats? Buy a kitten? Order takeout? Eat more broccoli?
Maybe – maybe – I should cut back on the weekend power outage binge drinking. Or stop telling Justin it’s okay to wake me up when he has to leave in the middle of the night.
Because this – and the creepy, inky feeling that’s now sitting at the base of my spine – officially makes me realize that some things are simply not worth remembering.