Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Nightmares Comma, Not Having

I'm not sure I have nightmares anymore.

Sleeping ones, I mean. Plenty of waking ones, of course, here in Life Under the Decider, but it's been a good long time since I've woken up in a real muck-sweat over something I've dreamed.

My dreams all share certain elements. They always -- that's always -- involve travel. Given my nomadic childhood as the son of a Foreign Service Officer, this doesn't surprise me. I used to divide them up into modes of transport: Boat-dreams, Train-dreams, Airplane-dreams. But now I'm in my forties the modes are pretty interchangeable -- a train can morph into an ocean liner in the wink of an eye.

Another recurring theme is the one I transcribe in my inner shorthand as Here Comes Everybody! (Yes, my inner shorthand quotes Joyce. Nyah nyah.) HCE! means that everybody I've ever known is always present in my dream. Family members, childhood friends, college buddies, people I work with now and old colleagues, are always on the same journey I'm on. It's a huge field trip. The symbolism may be a bit trite, but the thrill of meeting Here Comes Everybody! doesn't wear out, night after night.

Quite often in my dreams -- amazingly often -- the trip comes to a screeching halt because a tornado suddenly appears on the horizon, bearing hard straight at Everybody. Try as we might to turn the ship (or the train, or the airplane) the tornado seems to have a steering wheel, a mind of its own, and a bloody taste for vengeance. We turn right, the tornado turns right. We turn left, the tornado follows. It demands vengeance, I say!

The tornado's never caught us, but it sure ain't for lack of trying.

Last year I left work a little early one day. I was still very deeply in love with our new home in the country, and I took every opportunity to sneak out early to enjoy the peace and quiet of our clearing in the forest. Of course I still love the place, and a natural and entirely healthy slothfulness makes me sneak out as often as I can anyway, but there was a novelty factor last year.

On the way home a spectacular thunderstorm blew up out of nowhere. The radio trumpeted a Tornado Watch, but they do that about every other day in the summer months here, so I didn't pay much mind.

This is what happened at the place I work that day after I left. My co-worker caught the thing on videotape. Suffice to say, when the Vengeance-Beast passed over the building, it went directly over my empty desk.

O, my nightmares!

The first couple minutes are a little uneventful, but along about the first explosion ("Wooooooah!") things begin to rock and roll. After the Blair-Witch Scamper to the other side of the building, there's an utterly spellbinding view of the Beast.

My colleagues' increasingly nervous chatter is also extremely entertaining. "Uh, better get away from windows, guys..."

Well worth your seven minutes (click image to play):


cd said...

Happened to me too, but I didn't get away. 1975, Category 4, Tornado Alley.

Traumatized forever...well, at least for a long time.

Bob Dwire said...

A pedant asks:

Neddie, when you say: "We turn right, the tornado turns right. We turn left, the tornado follows. It demands vengeance, I say!" are you solipsistically describing the tornado's moves from your own point of view? Because unless you are, the tornado is, of course, trying to get away from you.

XTCfan said...

Hmmm ... well, if your dreams feature HCE, and a tornado regularly appears, then clearly the tornado is meant to represent someone you know or knew. The question is ... whom?

nash said...

Nice footage, Neddie -- unusual event for Virginia, no? I lived in Austin, Texas for many years. I was there the day of the Jarrell tornado. The same storm system that spawned that monster came through Austin. I will never forget what the sky looked like as it came through: a roiling black mass from horizon to horizon, like a carpet of chaos falling upon Earth. I have since been through two nasty Florida hurricane seasons, but I tell ya: Nothing stirs up existential dread quite like a Texas thunderstorm.

Categorical Aperitif

Neddie said...

Not at all uncommon here, Nash -- just ask the good folks of La Plata Md., just across the river, whose town was ripped to shit by one just a couple years ago. This ain't by a long shot Tornado Alley, but they do happen.

Bob: I reserve the right to offend logic in my topsy-turvy dreamscape. I will amend the offending sentence: "We turn right, the tornado turns stage right."

X: IT'S YOU!!!!!!!

Will Divide said...

Holy shit, Earwigger! I'm a travel & tornado dream guy too!

Once I was tied to a tree and by the time the tornado reached me it was three inches tall. Funny? Uhm... not especially.

roxtar said...

We used to get some nice ones in Indiana. I was coming out of a supermarket with a 6-pack of Cokes in glass bottles in my hand. The storm swooped in, the air pressure dropped, and the Cokes exploded in their cardboard carrier. I'm sure I looked like a cartoon character at that point.

XTCfan said...

Sweent. I'm your tornaydoe, baybay... (in a totally non-gay way, of course)

sawat? (best WV I've seen in a while...)