November 16, 2010

bad dream

I had a dream the other morning, which set an unpleasant precedent for my day. I have been trying to avoid remembering the details, honestly, but I think now perhaps I will try to get them out... Even though doing so will likely steal most of my words away.

It started with me walking up to my grandparents' house on Glenning St. It was still painted red. I knew my mother and sister were inside, and I was coming to meet them and my grandma for some stupid girls only get-together; but I did not expect to see, outside in the driveway, the crocodile, covered in grease, working on an old car. My stomach dropped. He did not even look up, and I hurried past, into the house. Once inside, I was furious. I went up to the room where my sister and mother and grandmother were hanging out, and they acted like they were glad to see me for about 5 seconds, and then completely ignored me.

As I was sitting there, bored and resentful, I could hear the crocodile clanking around outside and I got so angry, finally I couldn't contain myself any longer. I went up to my grandma and said, "Why is he here? How can you still let him come around? Do I have to remind you that he is a child molester? A CHILD MOLESTER!! You know what he did. You know. So WHY is he HERE?"

As I was speaking, my voice rose and rose, in hopes that he would be able to hear me outside the window, and my grandmother's body became very tense. She was smiling so hard that it looked like a death-grimace, frozen on her face, and her eyes got very big and then crossed and then slid into eachother in a really disturbing way, and her hands were clasped so tightly in her lap that they began to melt and fuse into one another. When I finished my short tirade she said, in a reproachful voice, "What do you want me to do?"

"Don't let him come around!" I answered, exasperated.

"I can't do that," she said, frowning now, her hands still melted together.

"Then you won't see me anymore," I said. And I walked out of the room, and out of that house, forever.


I walked for a long time, until I was in some part of a city I didn't recognize. It was kind of post-apocolyptic. There were tumbled down buildings, great slabs of concrete sticking up at odd angles, patches of scraggly grass... and no people. I was very relieved to have found this place. It was as if I had been looking for it all along, and only knew it once I had arrived. I walked around a particular slab of jutting concrete and made my way up broken stairs and twisted paths to a sheltered place, high up. There I lay down what I had been carrying.

It was a body, a woman's body, in a long and flowy white dress. She was clean, and pretty -- and dead; or as good as dead. She was not overweight, but she was heavy, and my arms and back were very tired from carrying her. I was relieved when I was able to lay her there. I did not feel afraid, or even sad; I was just doing what I needed to do. I stood looking at her for a few minutes, as if to be sure she would be okay; then I turned around and climbed back down the way I had come, and walked all the way around the structure, and came to the steep incline of a huge dirt mound. I walked slowly and painstakingly up the mound, and arrived back where I had started, at the base of the concrete slab. I sighed.

I went up the broken stairs again, checked on the body, climbed back down, walked around the building, and arrived at the dirt mound once more. This time, the dirt had some grass growing on it, here and there.

I did this loop over and over again. Each time I arrived at the hill, it had a little more vegetation on it. Eventually there were even tall flowers growing, and the only dirt left was the path I had worn as I walked up over and over. I had the sense of a lot of time passing, as if every time I came around that corner, I was pushing time forward ahead of me, and somehow causing the grass and flowers to grow through sheer force of will. It gave me energy, to think that, and each time I made the loop now, I got a little faster. But just when I was feeling comfortable in this pattern, feeling that I had figured it out, I got to the sheltered place and found that the body I had been keeping vigil with was gone. Gone. I stared at the empty place for awhile, and then staggered back down to finish the loop. Even though I knew deep in my heart that she was gone forever, I didn't know what else to do. When I arrived at the hill this time, other people had appeared, walking on the path and sitting among the flowers, talking and laughing even as sudden clouds roiled virulently overhead. When I got to the top of the hill, my mother was standing there, waiting. She had found me.

"You'll have to come with us, now," she said.


Then I was in a car with my mother and my sister. My sister was driving (but on the right-hand side of the car, which was odd), and my mom and I were in the back. And my mom would not shut up. Every word she said was causing me physical pain, like handfuls of rocks being flung at me. She kept talking and talking, and I kept interrupting her to say, "Could you please stop? Just stop. Just stop talking." But she would not take a hint. And after a while I finally screamed, almost crying, "SHUT UP! SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP. STOP TALKING. PLEASE, PLEASE, STOP TALKING!"

And she looked all sad and pathetic, like I'd hurt her feelings; but it shut her up all right. Except my sister was staring at us now, instead of driving, and when I asked her to turn around and please watch the road, she just got defiant and did this slow-blink thing at me that she used to do when she was little and I had to take care of her all the time. It meant: I hear you, and you know it, but I'm still not going to do what you said. So I got pissed then and climbed into the front of the car, where there was a second steering wheel and pedals and everything. I thought, Fine, I'll drive. It's probably the only way I'm ever actually going to get home anyway.

We were coming up on an intersection, and I almost couldn't stop the car in time, but thankfully it was a deserted country road and there was no one else around anyway. "You have got to get these brakes checked," I said to my mom, even though I knew she wasn't listening, because she was too busy being offended. (Ironically, I remembered even in my dream that my parents' cars always had 'brake problems'.)

I took a minute to adjust the mirrors before I started driving again. The rearview mirror had been pointed squarely at my mother; it was grey and very dirty, but I still moved it so I could see out the back window as best I could. My side-mirror was fairly easy to fix. Then I tried to move the one on my sister's side (which was partly shattered), but it wouldn't go where I wanted it, and I thought she was touching it and getting in my way, so I yelled at her and she yelled back and then she put her hands in the air to prove she wasn't touching it. I tried again to adjust it but every time I got it in a place where I could see pretty well, it snapped right back to its original position. So I decided it was just broken, and not her fault after all, and I apologized and left it at that. Then I started driving again.

After putting on an air of injured innocence for quite awhile (which my sister and I simply ignored), my mom suddenly opened her door and jumped out of the car, in an attempt to get us to freak out and feel sorry for her. I could see her out the rearview mirror, sitting in the middle of the road, waiting expectantly for us to stop the car and and turn around and come back for her. We didn't, though.

My sister got kind of upset, but I just muttered "Good riddance," and kept on driving.

So. It wasn't graphic or anything (for me, anyway) but I woke up very unhappy and angry, for a lot of reasons, and my whole body hurt for the rest of the day. Since I don't often remember my dreams in such detail, I figured I better record it. So I did.

PS: Goodness, Karolyn... Have you ever heard anything like it?!


  1. I wrote over 1500 words today... but they weren't part of my novel. Drat.

  2. I see your anger manifesting in your dreams. I heard your mom took the greasy crocodile back. Perhaps that is why you are having the dream. In your heart you have to be asking the same question I asked when I heard. Why the fuck would she do that? But to you it has so much more relevance and history. You also have been on a journey to make things right and she is just turning back all the work you have done. Your grandma is feeling like she has to decide between you and her daughter which has to be killing her as well. She has no idea how to deal with this honestly. I truly believe she is at a complete loss as to what is morally right to do at this point. She has to know what is right for you, but the maternal instinct can be VERY strong and your mother was once HER precious baby. Her first born.

    Your journey around the loop...Maybe you feel like you are spinning your wheels going around and around in circles...for what? Have you figured it out? Where are you going? And why? That is the question we all ask ourselves MANY times in life. At many different points. Perhaps you see the journey as long but feel like no one else does. Like you are alone.

    At some point you may need to fully let go of your mother. As hard as that may be, she is causing you nothing but pain and she does not seem capable of moving forward and accepting any responsiblity. I am not sure if you have hopes of her ever trying to make amends to you or if that would even matter, but maybe your dream is telling you to leave her behind for good this time and move on with your life without looking back or feeling guilty. And most importantly, you need to find a way to release all the anger inside of you. Its there.

    You are not a victim. You are a survivor.

  3. Definitely finding a lot of my anger in my dreams. It's the biggest emotion that is still difficult for me to express outwardly, so it comes up all the time.

    She didn't just take him back; she never actually left him in the first place. It was all a big lie. I don't blame my grandma, I don't think she knows what to do either... but that doesn't stop it from hurting. The fact remains: she cannot have both of us. And right now she's chosen my mother. I don't hold it against her; I just really wish I had a grandma. That would be nice.

    The loop I think is my inner analogy for my young adulthood, 18-23. It's complex, but it makes sense to me.

    As for my mother... When my sister came to me last December, my final hope flickered out. I have never once, since the moment I held my sister crying in my arms, wished for reconciliation with our mother. Other people don't always believe me, but I know that I never want to see her again. At first it made me sad, but I have found that the more distance (literal and figurative) I get from her, the stronger I feel.

    Thank you for your support, and for helping me get to California. I love you (and E!) and I'm glad that you're my family.

  4. VK--these types of words will always matter more than others...because, as you get them out, they will clean out room for words of beauty. You are so damn amazing! Even your dreams point to it. Keep fighting, dear.