Thursday, 22 September 2011

Weird dream no 3

I turned the heating on for the first time last night. The retained warmth this brought to the flimsy walls of my house was probably limited but nonetheless precluded the need for the double duvet arrangement I had nested on my bed and the wearing of thermal underwear whilst asleep. Instead of being cocooned in the weighty warmth of princess-and-the-pea-style layers, I was sweaty and fretty and the smell of burnt toast pervaded my nostrils – effects that probably conspired to produce the latest foray into imaginative weirdness that my brain had to offer.

I think I gave birth in this dream to a little gremlin figure – a twisted, gnarly-looking assembly of reddish limbs reminiscent of early photos of me as a newborn. Then somehow the little creature, still recognizable as a human lifeform, did some kind of undefined body swap with a shrunken version of a human adult. The fact of what had happened did not dawn on me at first, and I was quietly freaked out by the sudden animation of my offspring as it detailed articulately for me all of the physical miseries of inhabiting this undeveloped body, the inhuman indignity of not being able to control its own bodily functions, or walk about. Trapped in its very own infantile locked-in syndrome, the anguished soul seemed to embody the very essence of the human condition.

As I realised that the sci-fi-inspired body swap had occurred and found the explanation for my weird-out, there was the vague feeling that in the corner of the room, the husk of this adult was writhing, occupied with the ill-formed soul of my baby.

And before you ask, no I am not pregnant.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The inconsolable feeling of loss that comes with a momentarily defunct brain

On a hazy Saturday morning, when the promise of rain hung in the air and the fact of the weekend put a spring in my step, I set off for my parents' house jauntily carrying my carefully put together peasant salad and revelling in all things clean and middle class. I knew my timings were optimistic at best, but still didn't realistically think I was going to be actual late. As the seconds and minutes reeled away I filled up the car with family party paraphanalia in the same methodical, robotic way I used to serve up milkshakes at Burger King, ticking things off lists mental and paper-based and peering through the window to will the sun to come back out, holding on to my weekend morning.

As the minutes grew into half hours the truth of my lateness began to truly dawn on me, and it is that realisation that I think has the capacity to turn a person from a rational, laid back human being to a hysterical, swearing wreck. It starts with the jittery anxiety (the clock hand moving on relentlessly, ticking away the minutes of freedom and turning them into a slow march towards your inevitable death), the lists turning into roll calls of the people you are letting down by your incompetence, the slow creeping of self-loathing gradually enveloping you. But it's still salvagable, just get the hell on with it and get out of the front door and all of the perfectionist car packing will not matter. Panic starts to set in though - surely you can't have brought everything? You always leave something behind, everyone knows you have a reputation for leaving important medication and phones and little trails of kirby grips behind you, must have forgotten phone, where is it?? Can't see it, look upstairs, ring the bugger, oh no there it is in the bag the whole time! Panic over, now I just need to get the car keys and drive off.

Keys. Where are the keys? Not here, not there, not in any of the usual places, places I put things because I know I lose them, places that can be relied upon to prevent this inane mindlessness about personal belongings having any real impact. Places that are defaults in the everyday autopilot of opening and closing doors, making things safe and making things move. They must be here somewhere, this is ridiculous! I had them in my hand literally a few seconds before. Already late, the creeping feeling comes back, the panic and the self-loathing escalating into a furious, door-banging rage that erupts out via venomous invectives of irrational self-flagellation. At this moment there is no-one I hate more than myself, my incompetent, sham of a person, going through the world masquerading as a plausible adult who can lock and unlock things. Layer upon layer of disbelief, retracing of steps and maniacal emptying of bags and drawers comes to nothing and the anger piques me and reaches its horrifying crescendo as a whack myself on the head trying to reboot the fucking hideous shell of a brain that appears to be resident in my useless skull.

Thank goodness for Tim, who finds the keys in an innocuous paper bag containing a birthday present for my mum, ingeniously hidden away inside the car. Embarrassed and still shaking, I thank him shamefacedly and start the engine, a burnt-out shell of a brain in charge of one-and-a-half tonnes of moving metal.