Going down Dogwood once again
This afternoon's headache dictated a short rest. Or, at least, the attempt to rest. Since the cats had done their daily duty of thoroughly monopolizing the guest bed, I chose to curl up with a blanket on the couch.
I settled in for rest and got a terrifying dream in exchange—one that I had not had in many years. Off of the road where I grew up, there was a one-lane road named Dogwood Street. Before his death, my mother's brother Keith lived there.Dogwood is a one-lane, patchwork-paved road that cuts into the sides of two valleys. It is not a road to be travelled quickly; there are several sharp curves cut into steep hills that dictate no speeds over fifteen miles per hour.
I remember, as a child, being frightened of a particular curve. To drive to my uncle's house led you to take this curve while going downhill. My guess is that the road angles downward at about twenty-five or thirty degrees there. It is dauntingly steep, and ends with a ninety-degree right-hand curve. As a child, I could palpably feel the tension emanating from my mother as she negotiated this curve.
It was not until I was around ten that I learned that someone, a bus driver, had died there when my sister was a child. A sudden heart attack, the paper said, and a busload of children. The bus skidded down the slope and crashed, rolling over, on the base of the hill. The older children pulled the younger children out, mostly uninjured. The bus driver died at the scene. My mother, who taught at the small school, undoubtedly knew (and was probably friends with) the driver.
The knowledge of the past buried in the trees and soil of this area stayed with me ever after I read the article, and it did nothing to lessen my fear of having to go anywhere on Dogwood.
Fast-forward to my dream. I wake up, or so it seems in the dream, and I see the abyss yawning in front of me. I look around, note my surroundings—and realize with horror where I am. Why have I not fastened my seat belt? I always do that! I am not alone in the car; my place is in the back seat, behind the driver that I can't see, but who is yelling the obvious, that we are going to crash, we are flyiiiiiiiiing…
The car goes airborne. I see my perspective of the forest changing, from roots and fallen leaves to branches on high and birds. The g-force reverses to zero as my hands clutch around the belt. We soundlessly begin to fall to the ground, motor silent. With a smoothness that startles me, the downward motion of falling segues into the upward motion of me, awake, snapping upright at the waist, blanket clutched fiercely in my hands. My body, slick with fear-scented sweat, is shivering. I look up: ceiling. I look down: floor. No vehicle. No trees. No road. Unclench my fists.
Then, wonder what brought me back to this memory, for it has been years since I even thought about the existence of that road. I have not been down it in over a decade, have not seen the newspaper article about the crash or had the accident mentioned to me in closer to fifteen years.
We live with our memories like rivers, laying down imperceptibly fine layers of life and memories on a daily basis. The dredges that come bring up the old, the half-remembered, and mix it with the artificial technicolor of the dreamworld.
The result is me, more than a little disturbed by my memories. It isn't a sign of depth or its lack, just a tired mind in a nightmarish dreamworld grasping for familiar symbols to put a face on nameless, fearful dreams.
(I suppose it wouldn't be out of place to mention that, many years ago, my sister was on that bus, would it?)