Dreams

Trampolines, Swim Fins, and Half of a Roasted Pig

Hawaii on the brain

Hawaii on the brain

I am jumping on a large trampoline in a spacious, overgrown backyard. There are at least seven of us jumping simultaneously as a breeze rustles the palm fronds overhead. It’s sunny, warm, and peaceful. I am where I belong. A friend suggests we go shoe shopping. “I love shoes,” I think, so I am all over this change in plans. We hop off the trampoline and begin walking down a city street to the store. Along the way I am discussing what I should spend my shoe budget on…casual flip flops or a pair of statement heels. I know I don’t really need shoes because I’m in Hawaii, and barefoot is as good as anything in Hawaii but I am excited to shop just the same. As we walk along, I glance down at my friends’ feet. They are all wearing shoes. I am the only one who is barefoot. Apparently this trip is all about me.

When we get to the store and begin looking around, I can’t find a pair of shoes I like. I’m not entirely sure how it’s possible to be in a shoe store and not have anything pique my interest. Something is distinctly wrong. Finally my eyes land upon a pair of Mary-Jane-style, black Crocs. With considerable chagrin I note that these are the most suitable pair of shoes in the entire store. “I am not buying Crocs,” I think to myself, brows furrowed in frustration. Resignedly I lie down on the floor and fall asleep on my stomach, head on my arms, still without shoes but at least no longer concerned about my shoeless state.

I wake up when I come to the awkward realization that someone is rubbing my back. What the hell? Who is rubbing my back and why? “Personal space, personal space,” my mind screams. I look behind me and see an old friend of mine. I haven’t seen him since college. I’d forgotten he lived in Hawaii. He hasn’t aged.

“Your lower back is really messed up,” he tells me. “See this, here? This is not right,” he says, pointing to a couple of vertebrae that are obviously protruding where they should not be. His concern is palpable. “What have you been doing?” he asks.

“Jumping on a trampoline,” I reply.

“Well, I’ve got to get you to my chiropractor,” he says. “This is serious.”

He shoves an oxygen mask on my face, and as I choke on the unsolicited gas I note that it’s not oxygen because my alert-level changes and I go to some sort of happy place only achievable with something reality-warping like nitrous oxide.

When I come out of my haze, I am walking through a casino with my friend. People all around are gambling. It’s noisy, packed, and chaotic. I feel under dressed. I hear an odd noise I can’t place. Panicked, I check my feet. Gratefully, I am no longer shoeless. Instead, I am wearing a pair of white swim fins and my feet are making a flapping sound as I proceed down the marble walkway in the center of the casino. No one seems to notice my fashion foible, so I press on. My friend points me down a side hallway to a door.

“His office is in there,” he says. “He’ll fix you right up.”

I waddle my way down the hallway, picking up my finned feet as I go. When I get there, there is a kind-faced man who appears to be from India. In heavily accented, proper British English he tells me they have been waiting for me. My eyes adjust to the darkened room before me. It is filled with wooden boards. On each wooden board rests an Indian man, eyes closed. The doctor ushers me to an empty board.

“This spot is for you. Lie on your back. Face the ceiling,” he instructs.

I can’t figure out what is going on, but I don’t see any other option so I comply. The room around me begins to vibrate with the chants of fellow patients. Various meditations fill the room. I remain silent, letting myself be surrounded with the peace and goodwill. I am swallowed by the moment and fade into another mental plane.

After a while, I no longer hear chanting. I hear casual conversation, dishes being clanked together, and the smell of Indian food reminds me I have not eaten in a while. I open my eyes and notice that everyone else is awake. I am the last to join them. I am in the middle of a reception in the doctor’s office. There are trays of Indian curries and naan bread. The men are all eating with their fingers and conversing quietly. The doctor approaches with half of a roasted pig, one that has been twirled on a spit and slow cooked. “It’s a half of a pig,” I remark to myself. It was sawed down the center and is now presented to me as a snack.

“Here,” he says. “Eat something.”

I take the half pig from him. It is still warm and heavy, but not so heavy I can’t hold it without a struggle. I can see hair on its body. Its snout is tanned and rubbery. I stare into the half face of the pig. It stares back at me with one eye. The doctor waits by my side, rocking back and forth, expectantly. As I try to ascertain the best way to partake of this offering, other people begin pulling off bits of pig flesh and eating them. I wonder to myself if they are getting pig hair in their mouths. I look at the pig again. It blinks at me with its one eye. It’s still alive. I am astonished. How is that possible? It seems pretty awkward to take a bite of something that’s halfway watching me. I’m uncomfortable with the idea.

“I’m sorry,” I tell the pig as I grab a loosened part of its tender underbelly and tear it away. It blinks again to let me know it’s all good. He understands. I put the food into my mouth.

The alarm clock goes off.

Now…I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “This gal must live in Denver.” And you’re right. I do live in Denver where pot is now legal and readily available for home consumption and where all kinds of spaced out, random mental experiences are possible. But that’s not what this story is about. This is a story about what happens to me when I have curry for lunch and spicy Italian food for dinner. Although, now that you’ve brought it up, I wonder what my brain might come up with if I relaxed a little and ate an altered brownie? I suppose that’s another blog entirely.

I’m fascinated by what our brains come up with while we’re sleeping, perhaps as they try to work out and file away the everyday occurrences of our conscious lives. I’ve been marveling all day at how my brain reintroduced an old college friend whose last name is Bacon into a dream where I encounter an awkward situation with a cooked pig. Coincidence? I think not.

 

 

Need A Vacation From My Subconscious

My greatest joys, my biggest concerns

I had a nightmare last night. Not a bad dream, a nightmare. A bad dream is something you will remember when you awaken and say “wow…that was unpleasant.” A nightmare is something that wakes you up, sticks with you, and makes you uncomfortable enough that you’re not even sure you want to go back to sleep. The last nightmare I had was about my boys and I standing on a dock over icy water, think Anchorage in late March. Both boys stepped a little closer to the edge of the dock and simultaneously they both slipped into the water. I tried to grab them, got a hold of one, and the other went under and did not come back up. I didn’t have a chance to find out if I jumped in to get the other one because I awoke at the moment that I realized I was losing one. Still, this nightmare causes me to tear up years later.

My mom taught me once that our dreams are our mind’s way of working out things that are troubling us in our subconscious. The things that we bury deeply don’t stay buried. Sooner or later our mind wants to work them out. She taught me to look to the feeling you’re having when you are in the dream for a clue as to what is bothering you. Then, look to your life and see where that feeling might match up. In my nightmare where the boys fall off the dock, I was feeling helpless and guilty, guilty that I saved one and not the other. In my life at the time, I’d been working extra hard to help Joe after his ADHD diagnosis. I was putting in hours a night to help him with his school work, meanwhile letting Luke more or less fend for himself. I was doing what I needed to be doing at the time, but I knew deep down that I wasn’t giving as much to Luke as I was to Joe. During my waking hours, that thought would cross my mind but I would shrug it off, saying that I had to be there for Joe while he struggled. During my sleeping hours, my mind reminded me that I felt as if I was shortchanging Luke. I felt bad for neglecting him.

Well, last night my subconscious brought me a real doozy. I was on a plane with the boys, heading somewhere exotic and distant. The plane suddenly started to fall from the sky. The cabin was losing pressure. Oxygen masks dropped, but not mine. I put Luke’s on him. Then I realized Joe’s was mask was a cord with nothing attached. I moved him to another seat that had a working mask and secured it. I was now separated from Luke and crouching down next to Joe as I realized I was running out of air. I grabbed Joe’s hand, told him I loved him, and he began sobbing. That’s when I woke up, heart pounding, breathing more heavily than I should be. I lay there for a minute, taking deep breaths and simply trying to return to a normal pulse rate. I shook my head as if somehow the act would work like an Etch-A-Sketch and clear the image from my brain. It did not work. It was shades of my last nightmare coming back to me. I help Luke who doesn’t need much help and focus on Joe who needs me more, all the while feeling like a horrible mother for neglecting my second child. Not good.

I suppose the fact that we just learned that Luke has some serious reading concerns isn’t helping my subconscious relax any. As Luke was starting with his pre-reading skills, Joe was struggling mightily in first grade. For the next two years, I worked hard with Joe to try to catch him up to grade level. Luke seemed to be doing well enough, so I let him simmer on the back burner. I reasoned that a lot of kids struggle with reading until around 3rd grade. For many children, at that time things start to click. At the end of last year, however, I realized how far behind Luke was with his reading skills but by then the issue was already firmly in place. Now, Luke gets to endure 2 hours a week of customized reading tutoring with a dyslexia specialist in our home to try to correct the issues we didn’t catch when he was first learning to read. And, yes, I feel like a big schmuck for not being more proactive and paying enough attention to Luke. Big letter L on my loser forehead.

You know, I appreciate the work my subconscious is trying to do for me, always running in background and working furiously to fix things for me. But, sometimes, I really wish it would just leave me alone. I’m subjugating those emotions because I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to deal with them at this point. Why can’t my subconscious take a vacation like my conscience does on occasion? Being The Mom (like The Donald only without all the braggadocio and bloviating) is tough. Is it too much to ask for a little respite on occasion? Wait a minute. Instead of having my subconscious leave me, perhaps it would be better if I left it? Perhaps if I could leave it behind with my conscience, I could relax, let loose, and recharge somewhere tropical, like Hawaii. Then I could come back with the energy to help both boys simultaneously, and my subconscious could return to its job, running quietly in background mode and leaving me the hell alone.