Wednesday, September 2

Middleclass Slang

QUITE CLEARLY I REMEMBER that we were at a traffic light just outside the village of E—d M—t. The sky was preparing to rain once again, and, although the ground had almost dried, there were large puddles everywhere, through which the cars drove, sending up dark sheets and that fishy sound. I was looking at the cars around us at the traffic lights as I told my mother—‘I have such boring dreams.’ The cars were passing us in front; their green through our red; a conveyor belt of damp families behind steamed windows—‘I never really remember my dreams anyway, but if I do remember them, they’re always really boring.’
‘Such as?’
‘I dreamed this girl I’m seeing sent me a drunk text.’
‘I dreamed I ran out of hot water.’
‘I dreamed I forgot my coat… The most boring shit.’ She smiled and the light came to green down a list of three different colours. We set off. I imagined we were racing the car next to us, but we weren’t—‘I must have a really boring subconscious.’ I have never been much of a dreamer; rarely do I remember a single one, and even then, if I do, I forget it a couple of hours later. Dreams do not interest me much, but to endure such boring examples indicates that my brain is not the most inventive of organs (surely my lower intestine, or left ring finger).
And then, as if it had been challenged, my subconscious rose and tormented me; every night it tormented me. My quiet sleep became dreams became nightmares. I could not go a night without a nightmare, a nightmare that haunted me into the early hours of the next day. On my birthday I woke up, tired by wine, and fixated on a nightmare I had had during my rest. What rest? What respite from the waking hours is given me if I only lie down to horrible nightmares? Of course I tried to put them out of my head, yet that is easier said than done! So I have nightmares now and I cannot shake them.
The worst of all is when I dream of my ex. Indeed, one cannot stress the horror of a nightmare to an avid listener, whose dim daytime imagination will never grasp the terror that so quickly evades description, until they look at you baffled.
(My father’s photograph slideshow that he keeps revolving on his television screen whenever we have guests around; all day the thing turns; photograph after photograph, all sorts, all kinds of people. Then after everyone had left the room and I was going back & forth, clearing plates & glasses: a photograph of my ex & I on a boat in Cambridge, then another photograph. I stared, but the slideshow only lingers for so long.)
Last night I dreamed of my ex. I was with my family at a wooden table in a pub garden and she was there. I requested she leave, but my mother – I suppose the goddess of this atheist – said—‘No, she stays.’ And so my ex did not leave. I sat there, too, in the pub garden, drinking my drink and trying to ignore my ex’s presence.
In the morning I saw that there was wonderful, blue light shifting in through the blinds, so that I thought—‘It must be sunny!’ At first my sluggishness felt as though it were a hangover, but slowly I realised that it was a nightmare. My mood did not repair. The damage was done. Against my will and without my knowing, I had been upset for the rest of the day. The misery that stemmed from that one, seemingly innocuous dream followed me all day. I had been doing so well, but now I was affected, yes, struck down, I was a wreck and I could not handle it, not this torture that my subconscious had inflicted upon me at my most vulnerable. I have naught to say but that. Writing this before sleep has stirred her in my mind and I risk another nightmare, but what else is there to write about? Life is so petty but for the things that drive us mad. I should quit now, because it is only in dreams that I will see her ever again. And that is that.

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