Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dream War

I had a dream last night that should have been a nightmare. But it wasn't.

All the ingredients were there: It was Halloween night, I had just watched a short zombie film online, and I was in this big old house by myself.

In the dream, I was in the middle of an air raid. The place looked something like Manhattan and I guess I was going to work.

I remember looking at this city on an island as bombs were going off and then this huge airship, like an some kind of futuristic zeppelin, crashed head-on into a building that looked a bit like the World Financial Center.

I should have horrified, but I wasn't. I wasn't frightened at all. I was more...enthralled? I stood across the street when the World Trade Center was attacked, but in this dream I didn't feel the terror that I did on that day. No, it was more like a show to me than the start of World War III.

Still, I did dream of an aircraft crashing into a building and that's a little too close to the real thing.

Even in the dream, the old Catholic guilt kicked in as I angrily ordered myself to pray for the victims who had died in the explosion. I thought the same thing on 9/11, before the second plane hit, when we all believed the horror had ended with the attack on the North Tower.

I had planned to go to St. Peter's a few blocks up and pray for the people who had been killed. Then the second plane hit the South Tower, and well, you know the rest...

In the dream, some kind of missle strikes near me, but doesn't explode. The warhead clatters to the ground a few feet away from and I start to run because I'm sure it's going to explode any second. But, again, I'm not terrified at the prospect of being so close to death. I'm just making tracks.

And again this mirrors reality in some way, as it recalls the attack on the South Tower and how I and God knows how many other people ran like hell when the building before us exploded. Only then I was frightened beyond words.

In the dream I keep running until I see a woman in some kind of medical outfit jogging in the other direction. I know she is a med student out for a run and I yell after her, warning her not to go near the unexploded warhead.

The last image I recall from the dream is a reporter in a trench coat holding a tape recorder up to the woman's face and asking her questions. I am supplying details, but I am not the one being interviewed.

It's been said that you are everyone and everything in a dream. So in addition to being me, I guess I'm the jogger, the reporter, the suicidal blimp, the exploding building.

Meanwhile, Back in The Real World...

What does it mean? I don't know. I haven't been thinking much about 9/11 lately and when I do, I always shudder, even after all this time. This dream was almost like a theme park version of an air attack, with all the fireworks of a terrorist attack, but none of the terror.

I broke my normal routine today. I had to go out to Coney Island with my sister to meet with the staff of my father's nursing home and discuss his progress and his future.

I guess I was a little nervous about that, since I had offered to work from home and I was worried I wouldn't make my deadlines. But I did, barely, and then hopped a train out to Coney Island.

The hospital had about 10 people meet with us in a conference room. I couldn't believe that many people had to speak on a man who is on a short-stay program. But I did appreicate the thoroughness with which they discuss my father's case.

We got the usual complaint about my dad: how he makes inappropriate--read "filthy"--comments to the female staff and tries to grab them as they go by. My sister and I are a little fed up with this complaint by now, having heard it many times before.

So he's a dirty old man--so what?

You've never encountered this before in your career with the elderly? You can't hanlde one aging diabetic with dementia? I can't believe this is a first for these people, but apparently it was. I explained to them that we can't help them, that my father is even less likely to listen to us when we tell him to knock it off.

So the plan is to send him home at the end of the month. We'll have to get more people in here and spend down his finances so he can go on Medicaid. That means I have to find a ton of paperwork, go through all his assets, which is annoying because every time I turn around, I find some other account worth thousands of dollars.

What the hell is this? When we were kids my father was dodging bill collectors like they were vampire bats and fighting with my mother over every dime she spent. Now all of a sudden he's Daddy Warbucks. But I guess that's how life is for working people. You only start to see the money when you're about to die.

We stopped by to see my dad, who recognized us, but thought we were all staying in a hotel. In keeping with the Halloween theme, my father lately has claimed to see my aunt's husband, whom he hated and who died about four years ago.

"I don't want that guy around me," he told me the other week.

He loathed my aunt's husband for so many years that his hatred is keeping the man alive longer after he's dead. My father created a ghost and now it's haunting him.

Frankly, I would rather my father never came home. I know that sounds harsh, but that's how I feel. The staff told us he goes to wood-working classes, plays bingo, and does other things he doesn't being to do at home, where he just sleeps all day.

But if the doctors think he belongs at home, that's where he'll be. He may not be around much longer, so perhaps it's best that he leaves this world under his own roof.

I spoke with my shrink tonight about the dream and we found the lack of fear interesting. Since I worry and fret about things all the time, maybe the dream was a kind of wish fulfillment, where I could go through terrible experiences and not be frightened.

And this strange city that kind of looked like Manhattan and kind of didn't? Maybe it was a theme park, after all, as I was heading out to Coney Island the next morning to see my father.

I just hope it wasn't a premonition. I've got enough to deal with right now.


Calamity Jen said...

I don't think it sounds at all harsh that you'd rather your father didn't return home. Taking care of someone in his state is a huge responsibility, made all the more onerous in your case by the fact that he wasn't exactly a model father to whom you ought to feel indebted. You've dreamt of terror without fear; now work on living Catholic without guilt.

Rob K said...

Oh, Jen, so perfectly put.

I honestly think these people at the home can do a better job of taking care of him than I and my siblings can.

Living Catholic without guilt?!? My goodness, that's like diving in the ocean without getting wet. But I'll give it a try.

Take care.