Sunday, March 11, 2012
Flowers, Poison and Good-Bye
It was a day of sunshine and the smell of fresh cut flowers.
I knew about the sunshine, because the weatherman had forecasted it. But I wasn’t expecting the strong smell of fresh cut flowers when I walked into the room. I asked brightly whose shampoo it was and the only replies I had were confused looks. Oddly, it was only when I mentioned it that the scent became apparent to everyone else. When I was asked, I joked, recalling a moment when I had entered my car only to smell strong and expensive perfume pervaded the space inside. I don’t wear perfume, my asthma doesn’t like it. I joked then; my car is cheating on me with a beautiful woman. I told the story and added, “Perhaps it’s the ghost of the woman who comes into my bed to cuddle.” Half-joking because my tone was casual, but when it does happen, I often react violently, jolting out of my sleep.
When everyone left and went home, I took my time to settle myself into sleep. Sleep, unlike most nights, came swiftly and came over me like a thick blanket in a cold night; welcome and I surrendered. But it wasn’t an easy night. Something disturbed my sleep, I dreamt I was awake but couldn’t move, while an insistent voice kept telling me to “…move…wake up…you’re poisoned ... if you don’t move you’ll die…”
But try as I could, movement was hard. But eventually I found myself opening my eyes with my breath fast and labored my heart pounding in panic in my ears. After a moment, I was finally able to move.
It’s a physiological condition. Have you ever seen a child sleep? They thrash, their arms wave, they kick, the roam around in bed, as if they are reenacting their activities in their dreams. As we get older, our brain sends out signals to our adult bodies to stop the thrashing. Supposedly when we’re in deep REM sleep, our bodies our stilled as our minds go through the various gyrations of our adult dreams. Then as we return from dreamland, the brain sends out another signal to allow the body to move. Night terrors is the body not quite catching up with the mind to move as quick, thus the sleep paralysis.
I think it’s because the dreams become more complicated, inventive and reactive. Our adult minds culling through our experiences of the day, dealing with the threats of our worries and the stress of the things we can’t control. I know if I were to act out my dreams, I’d be found on a roof preparing to fly.
So the first dream, whispering of poison and death, resulting in sleep paralysis wasn’t something new. When I woke, I was flat on my back, a position I often find myself in when I do wake from my worst night terrors. Again, it’s a common occurrence for those who’ve suffered from night terrors. It took a while, but I finally shifted to my normal side sleeping and again, sleep took me like a knock on my head, quickly rendering me unconscious.
The second night terror was a sound of crashing, something falling, or being dropped, something heavy. The sound reverberated through my brain and I rushed to consciousness -- fast, the paralysis a lighter feeling. I bolted up in bed when I heard the sound of a moan, as if someone had fallen and hurt themselves.
I stayed awake for another 3hours, fretting what the dreams meant, and the auditory hallucinations that lasted as I was fully awake and checking in with the denizens of the net. Even the stream sleeps.
It was 2am, but it’s Spring forward time so my electronic devices which are automatically updated for Daylight savings times, registered 3am. Then I mused, was I somehow stuck in some weird time shift? For I definitely felt lost in that lost hour.
Eventually, as the clock inched to 6am, I returned to bed, a prayer in my heart, that went unanswered.
It wasn’t a dream of dark terror, it was far more insidious.
I was in London for business and she was unexpectedly there too, in the same hotel, the Savoy. The first time I see her, I was in the lobby getting ready to leave for morning meetings when as I stepped out into the side walk, she was stepping out of her limousine. We greeted each other in surprised, but delighted shock. She smiled her radiant smile and made small talk to catch up during the week since we both were staying at the same place.
But during the week, I only saw glimpses of her as she raced from one place to another. Then there was the time we were standing next to each other, she was decked in impeccable pink and pearls. And she turned her head so as not to meet my eyes. Surely, this wasn’t happening, I thought. So I called her name, she turned her head and smiled a quick but insincere glance and raced off again. My heart shrugged. I often glimpsed her through glass doors, as if I were peaking inside from outside.
The dream felt like a week where I was slowly running out of clothing, my pants ripped at one point, I begged and borrowed another pair, only to find I had holes in the knees of those borrowed khakis. She was dressed fashionably and well-tailored in expensive woven textiles. I was dressed in tatters.
At several points, I would see her at tables, in vibrant conversations with others and I simply walked on, unwilling to interrupt her enjoyment. At one point, she was at a table alone, she looked up, nodded in acknowledgement and looked away, dismissing me.
There was a scene where I was sitting in a small bistro table, talking to some other people. I caught her out of the corner of my eye being led to the table behind me, she was with someone else. I was in the middle of a conversation as well. But suddenly I heard her voice; she was leaning across her table, telling me to please keep the volume of my conversation down to a low roar. I looked through her face for any hint of humor and found none.
The last thing from my dream was my exiting the hotel, through the glass revolving door, I see her crammed into a crowded Bentley. It was a sunny bright day, I caught a glimpse of blue sky as I focused on her. She had the window seat, the window open, as the car pulled away, she turned her head and saw me, shrugged and smiled as she was driven away.
The message unavoidable, there was no room for me.
I awoke with a broken heart and tears. Sometimes a dream is just a dream, but it still hurts the same.