HEADING FOR A FALL
Dreamed 1993/11/2 by Chris Wayan
I paint and write all morning--mostly Loon Ladder, a dream telling me how to climb out of incest trauma.
Then I drive across town to therapy. A bit short on time. Turn left a block before Market Street, but an oncoming bus, also trying to turn left, makes it hard to see. I think the right lane is clear, and I turn. Two guys who'd been crossing the side street suddenly STOP in the middle of the crosswalk, right in my way; I'm trapped in the path of the oncomings, unless I run the guys over. A car zooms up from the right and slams into the right side of my car. The window implodes, glass goes flying. Silence. I sit very still and take stock. I don't seem to be cut.
Both cars still drive; I pull mine over to the curb. The other has smashed headlights. Mine has a huge crumpled-in wound, five feet wide and a foot deep--the whole side's caved in.
The other driver, Edgardo, is uninsured. He speaks very little English but he knows how to say "Buddy, you fuck UP!" and he's right--it was his right-of-way. I shouldn't have assumed those guys would clear the crosswalk and I turned without being able to see far enough ahead. Once I was trapped, the crash was inevitable--he couldn't stop in time.
We go to his house nearby, and argue in pidgin, and finally take the cars to a street mechanic who speaks both Spanish and English. He says Edgardo's car will cost about $300, I think he's exaggerating and it's more like 150-200. But mine is massive. He guesses $800-$1000. More than the car's worth; he says junk it. Frame bent way in, just too much damage... I end up giving Edgardo $200 and drive home in a smashed, limping car.
Sit at home, can't face the whole thing. Ruined car, shopping and buying another? And more than that: after fifteen years of safe driving, I move to the City and get in three fenderbenders in three years.
I call my therapist and leave a message explaining why I missed the appointment. She calls back and says don't do anything big for a couple of days, you sound like you want to fix it all right away, but your judgment will be rattled. Just rest. Good advice. I'm in pain, sick from shock and not eating. Cramps, headache...
Then Lily starts in. "The car won't be secure unless we fix the smashed window tonight, and I called a mechanic and he wants to look at it now, can't you take it over?"
I refuse to drive. I do walk to Tap Plastics down the block and have them cut a temporary plastic window. Costs a lot. Reluctantly ride with Lily to the garage. She blithely tells the mechanic "Oh, we can leave it there and walk home" without even checking with me. I'm in pain, guts inflamed in stress reaction, know I can't walk more than a block or two and should be flat on my back right now. She ignores my illness whenever it gets in her way. Guy says just what I expect: "It's not worth repairing, it'd take forever. Sell it cheap to a body shop mechanic who has the spare time, and get another car."
I'm ready to swear off driving. At least city driving in little cars. I'm used to VW vans where you're high up and can SEE. Is that the problem? Visibility? Or is it this dense, crazy city? Or... let's be honest... deteriorating judgment?
Or worse. Self-sabotage? The crash was on the way to therapy! To punish me, or stop me from going at all? I don't know. but the circumstances are ominous.
I paint and ignore the world as soon as Lily lets me alone. Let her take all the initiative on the car. I can't. I read a little, draw a little, write a little, tired and sore. I'd sue for whiplash except it was me.
I ask for a dream about the car crash. Why'd this happen? Will it again? How can I stop it? CAN I stop it?
I'm standing on a high bluff by the sea. I'm part of a complicated game that many young people are playing. We slide down complex routes to the sea and south along the beach, leading to... what? A goal in a sea-cave? Or at the foot of the cliffs across the valley?
There's a political side to it--the whole thing is a negotiation or competition. I'm a good player, recognized as such. Experienced. But I'm way behind, up on top of the cliff, for I've just entered, and it's mid-game. I decide a drastic first move is my only chance to catch up. I gather several of the foam devices that cushion us in falls on the mountain and float us on the water--one is standard, but I grab at least three. Jump into a stream and ride the floats down. But ahead's a dangerous fork: one branch zigzags down a steep canyon to the sea, but it can be followed by experienced players. It won't catch me up with the others though. Even its steep grade will take time.
The left branch leads to a waterfall, a hundred feet or more. Enough to be fatal. And I turn and head for the fall! I grab the foam floats--and whoosh out, suspended for an infinite moment above the roaring stone bowl, time slowed to a crawl, and realize, as I start to fall, that I must have been planning this, because I remember thinking the foam is light and air resistance will drive it all above me like a parachute, and I need it to cushion my impact, but then in the water we're able to keep the foam under us, so why not in the air too, and the answer was that in the water you have a both air and water, something dense to lever against, and here I don't, it's all just air... Perhaps if I wrap the foam all round me...
All this in a flash, memories of preparations, furtively hidden from my public persona; I'd never admit to planning such a crazy suicidal thing. Yet I did, I must have.
And now I'm starting to drop. Still in slow-mo, but the wind picks up... soon I'll see if my theory is correct, if it's possible to use this cliff as a shortcut and live.
And I speed up...
Wrestle with my foam cushions...
NEXT MORNING NOTES
A very messy plan.
I guess I'll be biking a lot for a while, and asking my dreams a lot of questions.
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