Sweet Dreams

In an effort to battle some strong bouts of writer’s block, I’ve taken to writing some dreams down. I think a lot about my dreams, when I have them. I’ve tried at times lucid dreaming with aid from meditation, practice, and insistence on its absolution.

“Dreams are a part of my life. I sleep more than half of my life away—I need something to show for that part of me, too. I want to control it, live a second life when I hit the pillow. Dreams also account for my time on this planet, and they have to matter, too.”

I did this for a few months and it was exhausting. I would meditate before sleep for 25-30 minutes, lie down, and do it again into sleep. Before sleep, I’d try to physically feel the relaxation of my body while telling myself “your eyes are relaxed, your mouth is relaxed” and farther down my body until I nodded off.

It’s raining and I’m waiting it out under a rusted metal awning on a bicycle. The rain is loud against the metal but I’m patient, watching it fall into an endless field around me, a breathtaking landscape under grey clouds or blue sky. I can’t think of anywhere I need to be and I don’t feel any restraint, just happy to watch the rain while remaining dry.

When it settles and the sun clears the sky, I take off on the bicycle without realizing it’s attached to a wagon of people. I’m riding towards mountains in the distance as the passengers talk amongst themselves in the back. I try speaking a few times, but something prevents me. I don’t feel silenced, or negative in any way, just overcome by how beautiful I’m finding everything around me. I pick myself off the seat and ride while standing, pick up speed and feel the wind, sprinkles of rain from the grass splashing my face.

When we come to a mountain in the distance, we can either go left or right; neither of which are places I’ve been. I veer to the left and a passenger leans into my ear, “There was a nice spring the other way.”

“I’ve been working hard all day, my legs are sore.” I respond.

There’s a small path to follow, a groove of dirt that divides the fields of grass. While riding long, thin perennials begin to pop up around the bicycle and wagon. They brush against my legs, the wagon, the passengers. I’m desperate to take a picture, pull out my phone while riding, and take a few. I quickly look at them to make sure they aren’t blurry, but they haven’t taken at all. I’m disappointed but decide to try and take it all in; remember as much as possible.

“Can I see your pictures?” One of the passengers asks.

“It didn’t take any, I don’t know why.”

The passenger takes my phone and thumbs through the photos.

“What do you mean?” She says, “They look beautiful!”

She holds the phone to my face; she’s right. People in the wagon continue talking to each other and I alternate between sitting, riding slowly and lifting up for more momentum. I’m quiet with a soft smile grazing my face. I zig-zag through the field of perennials and am overcome with a sense of fulfillment, relaxation.

I woke up shortly after with sore legs. I closed my eyes again and tried to relive the feelings from that dream, but couldn’t come close. I thought about the dream all day, looked up some meanings for flowers, fields, springs, wagons, and bicycles. Above all, I knew I had done it. I had created a dream world for myself, where I’m most happy. The dream wasn’t meant to be analyzed, it was meant to be experienced in the time it could be, and I did. Though I looked things up and continued with my waking routines, I did so with a new sense of relaxation. A sense of newfound energy. A sense of self.

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Strangled

Time rolls slow as freight trains through Garfield. Used to notice them, but the whole city’s been trapped by tracks for so long the whistles became silent. There’re signs everywhere warning people about them; they put up a fence down the tracks so people might not walk down them anymore, like I used to. They just put up some more signs. This time the kid didn’t see it coming; he had earplugs in and was trying to cross with his bike. The gates never came down. I think he was 11. Now there’s a little memorial leaning against a phone pole next to all the signs; some flowers and candles, a little framed picture.

I remember when the teacher walked in front of the train; it was a big deal in the city. He was flirty with the girls in high school and maybe took it a step or two too far; never got the trial, never found out. The day he was supposed to be arrested he took his final step. Police were searching near my house looking for missing parts. I never saw any. His corpse was given a parade around town, the girls were ignored. Before him it was a teenager. After him a man in his 30s. I guess we average ‘bout 1 a year.

Once it was a guy who got into an argument with his girlfriend and made a decision. Another time it was a grandmother who was hard of hearing, gates malfunctioned and didn’t come down; no warning. A long time ago it was a friend’s brother, choice.

Read an article once about the tracks, how the conductors call it “Suicide Alley”. They hold their breath while driving through the 2 mile steel noose, hoping it doesn’t tighten around them.

The whole town gets quiet when it happens. People whisper what they know to each other, afraid it’s true.

Not again.

 I heard. Oh, no.

I used to walk down the tracks to get home from school or just to walk; there were some old train cars near the baseball field where I’d go and be by myself when I was 15. I’d sit on top and watch them pass, or put some rocks on the tracks and watch them fly. Other days, with other people around, we’d put pennies on the track and search for them all flattened and hot once the trains left. Maybe a few times I thought what it’d be like to get hit by one but never thought to do it.

Wonder what it takes. Wonder what that little boy thought, if anything. The last thing you see is a bright light and steel. Last thing you hear’re howls from the silent whistle; it’s a helluva thing. Wonder how the conductors doing. Wonder if any cars were passing when it happened, or if anybody was nearby at all. Can’t imagine any of it. Just think of words and darkness and my own memories. But not that.

Every time I’m caught by these gates waiting for the train to pass, I can’t help but stare at that memorial. Picture in the frame looks faded from the car, can’t keep all that rain and snow out; too many seasons passed. People still come by, I don’t see them though. The flowers always look fresh. Candles are lit half the time. Gate rises, I go. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a different way, cross the tracks at Van Winkle. Look at a different memorial. Caught by the same memories. Maybe I won’t catch the train. Maybe I won’t have to think.