Friday, April 06, 2007

He fell asleep quickly that night, exhausted from two consecutive early mornings sandwiching an undisciplined evening. Sleep came very easily.

Time moves awkwardly while we sleep. It does not move slowly or quickly. The morning sun does not arrive the instant sleep overtakes us, and yet sleep never lasts as long as we wish. Sleep is not long, but it is not short either, a walking contradiction like his new co-worker at the bookstore, Squeaky Bellows.

Sometime soon, but not too soon, he found himself high. It was dark, and night stretched out into 360 degrees of horizon. He saw it all from the air, as if he were floating. High.

He remembered he hated heights. He was afraid of heights. His photographs from a recent trip to Paris had proven as much. Every picture from the Eiffel Tower showed the guardrail in the foreground, always in view because he never approached the edge to snap over it. A rush of weight dropped in his stomach, that feeling one gets when terror seizes.

Panicked, his mind rushed to find the reason for his elevated status, taking an inventory of his surroundings. He discovered he clung to the top of a solid metal pole. He felt his feet for the first time, standing on a platform, a small platform maybe a yard in diameter. The pole stood as part of a suspension bridge, spanning not water but a neighborhood of a large city below. Looking down, his stomach dropped again. How? It seemed it had hit bottom the first time. And yet it would continue to drop and drop and drop. . .

There he stood, hundreds of feet above the ground, hugging the pole and shivering. It was cold, but what's more, he was afraid.

He composed himself and glanced around. A city surrounded him, the lights offering the appearance of life in the darkness of night. But there was no life, no people, no sound. He looked at this grand city where America had taken her first bold step into freedom as if the scene were on television, muted and paused. The lights stretched as far as he could see. Except on one side where the lights abruptly ended. Darkness, the Atlantic Ocean, stretched on for eternity. The watery trail seemed so empty now, the one that once grounded the first footstrikes of the early colonists eager to brave the unknown.

Dark waves buoyed up and down, up and down, up and down. He could feel the tumult of the waves in his gut, that intangible place that rules the rest of the self. The platform on which he stood seemed to sway in the breeze. He jerked, moving with the pole, but also with fear.

Sometime later, before his awakening, a ladder appeared. Hope! Though it would require risk. He could not see the bottom of the ladder, the place to where it led. It was sturdy though, three feet wide with closely spaced rungs of solid wood. But, lo, the ladder's beginning was suspended in the air four feet from the platform. He could reach, but he would have to let go.

Anything was better than his current situation. He hated heights. The weight in his stomach dropped again. Fear. He had to move.

Slowly sliding one foot off the platform, he moved it towards the ladder but still clung tightly to the pole, both arms wrapped around it. He shivered. The platform swayed. His foot could not reach. He tried and tried to make it reach but it would not, not with two arms locked around the pole.

Slowly pulling one arm away, he reached his foot again. The feeling of a fall, a fall that seemed to be coming and a fall that seemed to have already happened, fell through his mind. What would it feel like? It would feel like his stomach, once again bottoming out at the reemergence of fear. He stretched his foot a little farther.

Contact! His foot pressured the top rung. It held! The first step proved the ladder, or at least the top rung, sturdy. His faith stregnthed. For now.

There he stood, one foot on the suspended platform, one foot on the top rung four feet away. One arm remained hooked on the pole. His legs formed an inverted V, like the stretch from high school track practice that prevented what was, for high boys, the unthinkable, unimaginable pain: the groin pull. An injury no man could take.

One foot, one arm on safe ground. Ground that led to nowhere, but safe ground nonetheless.

One foot, one arm reaching for a ladder. A ladder that led to God knows where, but somewhere nonetheless.

Stretched between the two realms, he felt the wind kick up, exposing the facade of stability his platform had created. He looked around at the lights of Boston which stretched below him, far, far below him. The instability of the wind and the height of his perch paralyzed him. He became aware of his fear once again. And his stomach dropped.

And he awoke. The alarm beeped, hinting that 5:10am was upon him. He rolled out of bed, grabbed the day's clothes and headed to the shower to begin another day.


Jenn Pappa said...

thats a pretty vivid dream, i never remember mine..

i got confused about your city... at first i thought you were in new york but then you said boston...

i LOVE that you called the atlantic ocean a water trail

ALSO what a somber dream for good friday... is that what you meant to do? Not being able to see what's next and being afraid?

i like the creativity :)

Esther said...

I feel like Captain Obvious, but it seems like you're stuck between a short term job (at Borders) that seems sturdy (until the wind blows) and a long term job with InterVarsity. I really like the retelling of your dream. I've only been able to do it with one of mine. I like it, Ben. :-)

Jeff said...

^ding ding ding. she hit the nail on the head.
Run off into the unknown, my good friend. The only risk is not taking one.

Ben said...

I too imagine I had the dream concerning my job situation. Boston has always been code for "Northeast" when I have spoken about this job possibility, so it kind of makes sense.

I never thought about this in the context of Good Friday though. I think one could make a strong case in saying they were connected. A buddy in an English class once said he believed we read too much into the stuff we looked at in class, that the authors never intended a lot of the connections we saw. I disagree with him, as I borderline idolize great authors. But in light of this maybe they do stumble upon things by accident. Or maybe that's just the lot for hacks like me. . . . :)

Thanks for all the comments!

Jenn Pappa said...

haha i LOVE that you refer to yourself as the hack... have you read tale of a tub by jonathan swift?

if not, do it

also, it's like art... take from it what you will... books and poems and songs, etc... they all become personal to me and mean something specific... even if it just reminds me of the day i read it

anyways, funtimes on the dreams, thanks for sticking up for my interpretation :)