the neighborhood lights up like it’s high noon: my dream life after 9/11

September 13, 2007

Once upon a time I had recurring dreams about tornadoes. Often, there would be multiple twisters at once, and they would suddenly charge towards my window the instant I noticed them. (For some reason I would always be indoors during these moments.) Somehow they sensed my thought energy. When they’d strike the house, they were revealed to be harmless swirls of dust – at the moment of impact, they’d sound like nothing more than a handful of white sand being tossed at the window pane.

As of September 11, 2001 my tornado dreams were replaced by dreams about commercial airliners either crashing to the ground or exploding in mid-flight. Like the tornado dreams, however, the moment of impact/explosion revealed a certain artificiality. In some dreams, the plane would morph into a toy version of itself just prior to hitting the ground. Other times it would explode with a silent poof, as if it were simply the detonation of a quantity of flash powder. In yet another case, the plane just burned up in the sky as if it were a wad of paper. (In my dream life, it would seem, my 9/11 anxiety is channeled through the no-budget lens of Ed Wood’s movie camera.)

These dreams aren’t quite nightmares. Bizarre and eerie, yes, but not scary per se. The closest thing to an exception occurred this past weekend, as follows:

I’m standing in front of the northwest doors of the Carlingwood Mall when I hear the sound of an approaching plane. I look up into the evening sky and see a small private jet soaring overhead. It is rapidly dropping in altitude. It smashes into a large vacant lot somewhere west of Woodroffe Avenue, its impact a giant fiery flash that momentarily lights up the entire neighborhood like it’s high noon. The sudden illumination reveals an assortment of firetrucks, ambulances and police cars parked in a ring around the crash site, as if they all had advance notice of the precise time and coordinates of the event. Seeking asylum from any impending chaos, I run across Saville Row to Kim’s apartment.

The next morning, Kim and I are standing outside of her building, noticing that while we were sleeping, Saville Row had been flooded and is now a river. We observe some cops across the way organizing a search for bodies in the water that have been carried downstream from the crash site. Some of them are donning diving gear, whereas others are preparing to wade into the water in their standard uniforms, including their hats and guns. They go under, some of them re-emerging moments later on our side with bodies in tow. Some of the bodies are people who are barely alive and taking their final breath, while others are corpses in advanced stages of bloating and decay. The closer I look at the bodies, the more grotesque their death masks become.

We go around to the east side of the building to find an outdoor corn roast in full swing. There’s barbecues, beer and fiddle music everywhere. On the lawn, strewn amongst the corn roast revelers, are some additional water-logged corpses from the newly-formed river. One of the corn roast participants is a shirtless man in a wheelchair who, despite having been decapitated, is wheeling around capably and socializing. There is a thin red scar where the base of his neck used to be. Despite his obvious setbacks, he is the life of this party.


©2007 by James Deagle. All rights reserved.



From the lobby of Hotel Insomnia

September 6, 2007

It’s 4:30 a.m. and my brain is refusing to power down. About an hour ago I decided that it’s better to be up and doing something rather than staying in bed, cursing my body’s inability to sleep. Maybe that’s the key to dealing with insomnia — if you can’t overcome it, simply work with it.

I’m writing this from a public terminal in the lobby of a hotel in Vaughan, Ontario. I have a Unix laptop and high speed Internet access in my room but up there I have no respite from the distant whir of traffic on the 401. So, regrettably, I am here in the lobby, needlessly subjecting myself to WindowsXP and elevator jazz.

This is my second week of living out of a hotel while doing a training course. Business class transience, all expenses paid. I’m not complaining, though I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my usual surroundings. Am I simply starting to feel rootless? That’s plausible, given that hotels — especially corporate name brand hotels — are a paradoxical monoculture unto themselves: they are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. When I look out the window, am I seeing the 401 in sort-of-Toronto, or Interstate 15 in Idaho Falls? The landscape offers no clues (dead grass, parking lots, the usual big box stores, a few ribbons of highway), and neither does the room itself.

Like I said, I’m not complaining. There’s a constant supply of fresh towels, somebody comes and cleans up after me while I’m out, and if I use the pool around dinner hour I have it to myself. The scrambled eggs at the breakfast buffet may be a little cold and undercooked, but they’re on the company.

Welcome to Nowhere in Particular.

We hope you barely remember your stay.

© 2007 by James Deagle. All rights reserved.