Bad dream

Last night I dreamed:

I woke up and I didn’t want to leave Erik, but I had to go to work. Our car wasn’t available, so I had to drive a horrible, blocky, rickety old open-sided thing, like a postal truck, only narrower, so I had to hold on tight to keep from falling out. And it was drizzling, so I got wet. I got to work and everything was pointless — a very, very slow day — so I thought I’d leave half an hour early, at two-thirty. Then I realized that it was Tuesday, and on Tuesdays I am supposed to work from three to eight instead of from ten to three. Then I realized that on this particular Tuesday I had the day off, and I was supposed to meet Jackie at eleven. And now I had worked an extra day, and I was afraid to ask my supervisors to let me take a different day off because I knew they wouldn’t let me. At that point everything started to feel more like a dream.

I rushed out to the parking lot, but it looked huge. I couldn’t remember what that stupid car looked like. I felt slow and dull, and I was so upset about leaving Jackie hanging. My only hope was that she would have come to our house as planned, and Erik would explain that I had gone to work and they would know there had been a misunderstanding. But even then, I didn’t know whether we would still get to see each other.

I finally found what I thought was the car, and got in and sat for a while. Only after the car started moving did I look around and realize I’d gotten into the backseat of a SUV with three teenagers in it. They’d said nothing, not wanting to antagonize the crazy lady, and had been waiting for me to get out on my own. When I didn’t, they just started driving. I started apologizing and explaining frantically, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just had the most horrible day at work and…” I got out and started looking for my car again.

I looked and looked. It was still raining, and the parking lot got huger and huger. At the same time I was trying desperately to reach Jackie on the phone. First I tried to dial into my voice messages, but incoming cars and my own predicament kept making me have to hang up. The voice mail didn’t like that, so every time I dialed in, it asked me to enter in more secret numbers, but I didn’t know what they were! I did get to hear the first part of Jackie’s phone message, and found out that her car had had tire problems in Sawtelle, so she’d never made it to our apartment. Now I knew she hadn’t seen Erik, and I was even more frantic to reach her.

Finally I found the car, and it was even narrower than I’d remembered, only about as wide as I am. I couldn’t believe I had driven to work in it, and I didn’t know how I would drive home either. I had finally managed to dial Jackie’s number, but I realized I’d never be able to talk on the phone and drive that car at the same time, so I had to stand there outside of the car waiting for her to pick up. When she finally did, a woman who was waiting for my parking spot lost patience and started to forcibly move the car herself. Still clutching the phone, trying not to lose Jackie, I ran to the woman and started pleading with her not to be mad at me; I’d had such a bad day.

At this point I woke up and at first couldn’t tell whether I was dreaming. Then I knew that Tuesday hadn’t come yet (I really do have the day off this week, and am going to meet Jackie at eleven), and I felt so relieved! I started thinking over all the things that had happened in the dream, and I realized they were weird, so I went to my desk and wrote them all down in the dark (I didn’t want to wake myself up too much by turning on a light). I have surprisingly legible darkness-handwriting.

The dream may sound amusing or even comical when it’s written down, but while I was in it, I was horribly frightened and in the second half (the parking lot) I was in despair. I don’t think I’ve actually dreamed despair before, but it felt very real. In dreams, this kind of shifting landscape is normal, but just try and imagine your normal run-by-the-rules life sent into the dreamworld. Imagine if your real life suddenly took on the quality of dreaming, and you couldn’t remember what came before, you were not aware of everything in the present, and everything changed so that in the future nothing resembled what it had been in the past. Everything would be completely unreliable, and you would have no control over anything, not even yourself. That is what it felt like to be in this dream.

I do think the dream speaks to me and my fears, both surface-level worries and those deep global fears that motivate everything I do.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]