Dream a Little Different: Part Two
Alternatively titled: The Cholrehexidine won't wash off.
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I have this recurring dream where I am readmitted to the hospital. Only, it is not a hospital that I recognize. It is a school classroom where I am meant to use the teacher's bathroom to change into a gown. It is a subway station where a turn down the left fork leads to a brilliantly white corridor with pod-like beds and nurses in old-fashioned uniforms. Sometimes I am alone. Sometimes I am ripped away from my family. Sometimes nameless workers place me next to unconscious contagion that I can not seem to grasp are human.
In these dreams I can be laughing, unconcerned by what is happening. Nurses I know (but only in the dream) great me as old friends. I visit my former unit, but now it morphs into a graffitied public bathroom, bizarrely juxtaposed next to clean piles of freshly folded laundry. I still recognize this room, but it is someone else's space.
In other dreams I am implored, bordering on dragged, to please come in: we need to open you back up. We need to fix you. I am not resisting, I am not afraid. But suddenly now I am too weak to walk. Or, now I am too strong and going stir crazy in my bed. No one sees me leave. Someone sees me leave. Now I try to find the exit. Now I cannot sit up. Either way; I am paralyzed.
I wake up from these dreams the way one does when they have dreamt of a college paper they forgot to submit or lines they forgot to memorize. The aura of false fantasy lingers as reality crawls its way back under the eyelids. One lies in middle-state for moments, sometimes minutes, all the while wondering, was this real?
Even dreams do not get to be binary. The older I grow the more I confuse memory with imagination; trauma with tale. Maybe I am feeding these fascinations by spending more time trying to pick them apart. Maybe if I let them go then I would not be furiously typing at 1:00 AM with each streak of suddenly sharp recall. Maybe I would not flop between confusion and clarity; self-pity and self-doubt.
Because stitched throughout the intertwining fabric of time is so much hurt. I hurt at the confusion that I can feel both at ease and then abruptly at my most ill in these dreams. I hurt remembering the uncertainty of a real memory coupled with the hindsight of disappointment that I could not have done anything. Not a thing. I hurt knowing that in real life there is no one to blame. I do not want to be here in this new and sometimes horrifying place, but yet I know, crushingly, that in some way I have been here before.
I keep telling myself that someday I will wake up. That what I discover in my research, in the experiences of my peers, and in what I build an awareness of that I am not somehow cosmically causing this onslaught of complications. Someday I will truly know that these perceived causations are just manifestations of fear. Just fear; and not some prophetic ability to know that an unlikely fate will befall me by virtue of simply becoming conscious of said complication's existence. Because it does sure seem like clockwork that each time I learn of something that could go wrong, it does. I try to rid myself of that responsibility, that feigned ability. Yet, it is almost as if by my hearing or reading or speaking about it: possibility transforms into prophecy.
I remember telling someone early on after transplant how I missed my device. I missed the security, the safety net. I even resented that I had coded in part because the proverbial "they" had taken it out.
While slipping in and out of consciousness in the ICU I asked a trusted friend if that same "they" would put in a pacemaker (I asked if I would be re-listed for another heart as well, for the record). I know now that I did not fully understand the severity of what was happening; of what I was asking. But I knew to ask. I was so much more unwell then, but I was so much more prepared.
Because in the intervening months the hole had since closed up. That part of my life was sealed. And, as quickly as dreams change, reality has faded into fantasy. And there is no one to cast the blame on. Nobody dropped the ball. It is times like these that I can not help but to channel Diana:
They tried a millions meds and They strapped me to their beds and They shrugged and told me that's the way it goes. And finally you hit it. I asked you just what did it. You shrugged and said that no one really knows. What happens if the medicine wasn't really in control? What happens if the cut, the burn, the break Was never in my brain, or in my blood, but in my soul?
Currently Listening To: "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie, from Plans, and also from the summer before my Senior year.
This piece lives on a CD disk with green and silver stripes. It was burned in tandem with their three other hit albums of the same band, by a friend so creatively dear that I would entrust to him my musical soul. This piece is track #9. My car stereo makes me press the rewind button twice to start it from the beginning. But, just like the time before, I do it anyway. Again, it nudges me. Again. The car heads south, down El Camino. Summer's effects have dampened the normally turbulent road. With the window open I can even hear the sound of my hybrid's engine at the traffic light. The light is green. I turn left.
The memory shifts. It is almost as if I can still smell the sticky-sweet guava-flavored hookah glowing in its tinfoil cradle. The greying disc would have been gently smoldering on a late summer night in someone's parents' backyard. I cinch down my oversize sweatshirt that has got a bit of spilled jack and coke on the left cuff. My knees are curled up to my chest, making my profile a vertical fetal position. Someone errantly checks their phone, but there is no one we expect to contact us: we are all here.
I am usually berated by my the rest of friends for my "depressing taste in music," but the sunset has finished and the turning of the sky has settled into deepest blue and speckled white. The air is cool and the softly lit trees overhead ripple placidly in indifferent breezes. No one complains.
So where does this disk sit now? The car gone to scrap, the hookah broken in someone's spare closet, the sweatshirt now owned by someone smaller. I am fishing it out of the green cardboard photo box that I kept on the third lowest shelf in my closet. It needs diving for: it is wedged between the Goodwill costume that I had bought for homecoming week and the old comforter from the IKEA twin bed. It is a bit dusty. I will have to wipe it clean...