…And That’s When I Woke Up

Author’s Note: Look, I’m really, really sorry! I know it’s certain death to start off anything with, “Hey, let me tell you about this dream I had.” It’s like yelling fire in a crowded movie house. It’s not my style to dive into this territory, because it’s not my thing. Then again, maybe it is.

I don’t keep a dream journal. There is no point. I sleep restlessly; I go to bed late and get up early leaving no time for my brain to do it’s thing. I drink too much coffee, I’m prone to fits of cleaning things obsessively. I don’t dream.

I don’t dream…that often.

I think it was around my fifth time trying to quit smoking and I was relying on the patch to settle my nerves was the first time since I was a child where my dreams were as clear, as wonderful, as scary as they were since then. Going to bed with a patch on your arm is not unlike dropping acid to enhance your experience of

I don’t condone this behavoir…

going to Cirque du Soliel with your grandmother. Well, not entirely, anyway. Close though.

Nicotine in a more concentrated dose is supposed to reduce your cravings for lighting up, which it does. Tremendously. That is, until they don’t work, but that’s another story. The manufacturers of these patches tell you to wear these for at least 24 hours in a row, but at the same time advise against wearing them to bed. (???) That never made sense to me and since I considered myself on the more chronic end of the scale, I always chose to go to bed with one firmly attached to my flesh. The nicotine in the patch does not stop dispersing its poison into your system until its done, meaning that while you rest, you are essentially still lighting up. Your brain doesn’t know how to handle this; the body is at rest while the mind is still having a barn-burner of a party. To put it simply: dreams without the patch are like watching foreign art films in fast forward while you look for the naughty parts. Dreams with the patch are like watching a Stanley Kubric film at normal speed, in IMAX, while tripping on acid with your grandmother…never mind…. Your dreams are in HD, and you’re living it. Something like that.

It’s called a lucid dream: a dream that’s crystal clear and the dreamer experiences the illusion of total control of all action. Think ‘Inception’ if it were happening in a mind that isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio’s. There are ex smokers out there who would know what I’m talking about. Your dreams aren’t scary, per se. They are only scary to the extent that you aren’t used to things being so clear in your dreams. Your brain freaks out a little.

Anyway, my last lucid dream I had was so intense that I just had to write it down. It was a couple of years ago. I wasn’t on the patch, but it was around the time where I was habitually dozing off at work. I was dozing off so much that it was kind of getting to me. So much so, that the echos of it were affecting my actual sleep.

~***~
I fell asleep at work. Hard this time. For a moment, it was welcome. Lovely, undisturbed slumber. But your subconscious has a tendency to tap you on the shoulder if you tend to doze in a place that you’re not supposed to doze in, so I snap myself awake.
*Snork* “I’m awake!” I yell to no one in particular. No one heard me because I was no longer at work. I was in my old college lecture hall, books at my feet, my desk slick with drool. No one heard me, because I was the only one in there. There were no instructors, no students, no light apparently either. The normally droning fluorescent bulbs were silent. The only real light came from the outside hallway and the exit signs that emphasized that point. I was alone. I was forgotten about.
I had the instinct to realize that it felt like early evening and I needed to scramble out of there to catch the last bus to my old apartment. I packed up and started to run. Loose leaf paper floating cartoon like in my wake. I leave the hall and out into the common area. Nothing. Nobody. There were the ghosts of voices of people who were there a few hours earlier. But right now, they are closing everything up. I had to hustle to catch that bus. I walk quickly past collegiate collages that I take for granted for having something to do with my school. But on a second glance, I see that the collages were for a Maritime College. My college wasn’t a Maritime College.
I wait for the bus, I look at the campus clock tower and notice that I made it with a few minutes to spare. Sudden fear raced through my veins when I feel my backpack is lighter now than before I dozed off. I forgot something. A book? Whatever it was, it was important enough for me to start running back to the lecture hall. The doors were locked as they normally were at the end of the day. Whatever I needed was still in there and in the distance, I hear my bus slowly roll away.
I couldn’t call anybody because for some reason, I’m still conscious of the fact that I am me now and not me back then. I couldn’t call a friend to pick me up because they’ve all grown up, moved away and started families of there own. I was stuck. Stuck on my old college campus with no way home. I ran out of options so I walked over to my old dormitory to see if there would be anyone who could sneak me in so I could spend the night in the lobby or something. The building’s lights were on. There was activity all about; voices, laughter, typical miasma of any college dorm. Everything was normal, only there was no one paying attention to the old dude trying to get inside to spend the night.
I couldn’t get in the regular way, I had to improvise. I loved my old dorm room. It was the one I lived in before trekking out to find an apartment in the city. The room was old, full of history. The building itself, as I recall in my dream, was haunted; a suicide in the attic and the ghost still roams the halls. I am conscious of  this I try and locate the window to my old room on the third floor. I thought if I could sneak in there, I would be safe for the night or at least find passage back to the lecture hall*. “Okay, 1…2…3 up and 1…2…3…4 across.” I found it. No light came from inside the window. “Good,” I thought. “At least I won’t be barging in on anyone.” I climbed up the side of the building, which I could do easily in this dream, opened the window and crept inside.

Dorm rooms that are occupied by roommates are divided in half. The half of any particular room sheds a little light as to whom is occupying it at the present time. For example: you can tell automatically that they put a jock and a goth in the same room. On one side of the room, nothing but bobble heads, on the other, nothing but THE DARKNESS OF MY SOUL!!! Such as the case when I came in through the window of this room. On one side, the side that I came in on, it was practically bare; nothing hanging on the walls, no pictures on the desk, no clothes on the floor, bed made in perfect fashion as if no one had slept in it in a while. This was on the side that I could see. On the other side of the room, the side I couldn’t see, there were hints and shadows of life. I could make out frames on the wall, general clutter about the space and perhaps, more poignantly, the gentle snore of a young woman fast asleep. I knew I shouldn’t be in there. I knew I should just keep on sneaking out and find my way to the lobby or something. But that bed near the window looked so comfortable, and I was so tired. I lay my head down on crisp, linen pillow cover.

I woke up. How long was I out? An hour? Two? It was still dark and a restless subconscious kept me alert if not awake to remind me that I was still in a girl’s dorm room and I had to get out before she woke up. I straightened out the blankets and fluffed the pillows the best I could and proceeded to sneak out undetected. I made it to the door. I opened it carefully hoping there wasn’t any cliched creaking that a door would normally do in this situation. It remained silent. I took a deep breath and took the first step out through the door when a tired voice suddenly chimed in from behind me.

“She’s gone, you know.”
“I’m sorry?” I say.
“She’s gone. She’s gone for the weekend just in case you were looking for her.”

Street lights shone broken on my face through partially opened blinds as if I were in some Noir film. The other half of the room was indeed occupied. There was someone sleeping there even though I couldn’t see anybody and she thought I was a boyfriend or something looking for her roommate.

“Oh. No, I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking for her…” I proceed to tell her my story up to this point to which she replied, “Oh…” As if it were a regular occurrence or something. I turn to leave. “You had better leave before the shut down everything and find you. They’ll be looking for you.”

I shut the door. Panic moved my feet.

I found myself inside the school’s book store** where I could already feel that something ominous was closing in; the faceless and nameless ‘they‘. I had to get out of this store because I knew on the other side of the door was my freedom. I no longer had my book bag which might have been a good thing. In order to not look suspicious to the students who worked there and the campus police that was guarding the door I picked up some random texts to blend in. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that these were books that I actually needed so I decided to steal them. I shoved them under my shirt. I wasn’t going to pay the bookstore’s outrageous mark up, besides, I had no money. This didn’t go unnoticed by a member of the staff and so he started to approach me. From out of nowhere comes Anthony Bourdain. I had no idea how or

I don’t condone this either…wait, what?

why he showed up here, but it was enough to distract the employee. Tony regaled the book seller with a tale he brought back from Greece while he subtly motioned to me Mr. Miagi-style that safety would be found in this direction. I crept closer to the exit. The only thing between me and my freedom was the campus cop. I hid in plain sight. Waiting for the cop to get distracted. It was at that point where this…how should I put this….hand drawn woman caught my eye. I say hand drawn because she looked made up to the point of being grotesque. She look as though she came to life after she spent years hanging in a tattoo artist’s portfolio; disproportionate facial features, breasts way too big for the rest of her body. I might have regarded her has completely cartoonish and completely out of place had she not been dressed in loose-fitting jeans and a zip up hoodie with the school’s logo on it.

…Yeah, something like that. DragoArt.com

Her arms were full of books. She studied the rest of the row looking for that one last book on her list when she noticed me hiding in the end cap. She looked at me inquisitively. I shot a quick glance at the cop. She looked at the cop, then at my worried face, then it hit her. She tousled her hand-drawn hair, sauntered over to the cop and said, “Excuse me,” in her best Betty-Boop.”Could you help me find this one book? I just can’t seem to…find it.” Sex oozed from her lips as she unzipped the hoodie ever so slightly to reveal her phenomenal cleavage to the cop. Needless to say, the cop at the door was perfectly distracted, she motioned the same way Bourdain did before that the door was that way.

 I ran out. I didn’t know where to go exactly because I felt I couldn’t trust the buses anymore, let alone be seen by anyone else. I remember there was a spot in the woods that was almost off campus grounds. It was a secret place to get drunk and do whatever drunk co-eds do. I moved in that direction. It was daylight, so I knew that there would be no one there.

Fought my way through the brush. Through the trees. Through the silence of a forest. Somewhere a voice told me to get down because “they” could see me, so I started crawling away like a crab. After crawling for a few yards, I decided that there was no one watching me. If there were, they’d be laughing at the way I contorted my body to move like a crab. I kept walking through unfamiliar woods.

I followed a path. Dirt changed to gravel. Gravel gave way to grass. Soon there was nothing to follow but the sound of cars whooshing by. I found myself near a road that wasn’t supposed to be there. It was a road that remember taking many times as a boy, but that road was in my hometown, my college wasn’t. I was miles away from where I should have been. “Hunh, that’s odd.” I said as I started walking in the direction of my parent’s house.

And that’s when I woke up and wrote this down.

~***~
I know, I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t have much to write about today and I thought that if I fleshed out this a little further it might reveal something to me. If anything, it’s worth a blog post for posterity sake. It’ll work for practice. I promise I’ll do better next time.
*-Impossible, because the lecture hall and the dorms are nowhere near each other in real life.
**- Again, not true because they are both in separate buildings. Oh well. Dreams, right?

Photo Credits:
 Dream
The Good Doctor
Anthony Bourdain
Pin-Up 

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