Sunday, March 08, 2009

An unusually coherent dream

I remember my dreams very rarely, and most of the ones I do remember are inchoate series of unrelated images. Where most people talk about how weird their dreams are because they feature the usual unexpected plot twists, bizarre imagery, and inexplicable characters, mine are typically so incoherent it's impossible to even describe them. It's more like ten minutes of unrelated images lasting a few seconds each and having no connection to anything else. Of the few remaining, most of them are in some form or another house dreams.

A few nights ago I had a dream that was about as coherent as any I've ever had, and with only a little bit of house dream imagery in it. It even had, in places, a plot.

The dream started with Siobhan and I having arrived in Juneau, Alaska. (We used to live there, and had just been talking idly about the idea of visiting.) I'm not sure how we arrived, plane or boat, because the dream started with us being picked up by a former neighbor in his pickup truck. (In real life we never had a neighbor there we knew well enough to pick us up at the airport, so I don't know who this dream character was.) As he drove us from Mendenhall Valley towards downtown Juneau, he and I got to talking about woodsmanship and woodcutting, and my recent interest in it, and he suggested there was a stand of woods just up ahead that he'd been tending that he thought I'd like to see. So we pulled the truck to the side of the road, leaving Siobhan in the truck, and walked up the road a bit to look. He had a golden retriever with him (who wasn't in the truck, so far as I recall, it only appeared for this scene).

It was late afternoon by this point, but as we neared the stand of woods in question, the sun set rather quickly, and we were very quickly in a dark gloom that made it impossible to see very far. We commented how it's a good thing we hadn't made it into the woods we were walking to see because it would be dangerous to try to find our way back out of them in this dark. Even walking back up the road was tricky, but fortunately I had a keychain LED flashlight which gave just enough light to lead us back to the truck. (I don't actually have one of those, never have.)

On arriving back at the truck we continued into town, where for some reason it was back to being mid-afternoon. There followed a stretch of dream I don't really remember, in which Siobhan and I both wandered around downtown Juneau looking at the streets and shops, which for some reason we did separately. (No idea why, we virtually never split up like that.) I remember that I managed to get lost somehow but found my way back. The city was bigger, with smaller and more winding streets, than it really has.

We were back in the hotel room, which had a wonderful picture window overlooking Gastineau Channel, with the southern edge of Douglas Island framed nicely, and a wharf that looked like a more picturesque version of Merchant's Wharf Mall visible off to the right. (In fact, there's no point in Juneau that would give that view, but you could composite one from several different views all within downtown Juneau. I rarely Photoshop that lucidly in my dreams.) There happened to be an incredibly gorgeous sunset, with fiery red clouds piled in a vaguely triangular shape against the backdrop of southern Douglas Island, perfectly framed in the picture window, and I commented on how picturesque it was.

Then I saw our camera and grabbed it to take a picture, but Siobhan said that I'd never manage to capture the image as we were seeing it because the lighting wasn't right to make the picture work. I said something like, "no, this camera has a setting specifically for sunsets," but after fiddling with the camera a few minutes, I was no closer to finding that setting in the menus. Oddly, I fell asleep while doing this. But I didn't actually dream being asleep; it was more like, I was fiddling with the camera, then suddenly it was later (the sunset had concluded) and I was waking up slumped on the desk in the hotel room with the camera pressed against my face, realizing I must have dozed off, and upset for missing the chance to take the picture.

It was at this point that we had to leave to go to the rooms where we'd be sleeping (I'm not sure what the room we were in was, I guess some kind of "living room" for a hotel suite). A friend of mine from high school, Pete, came to lead me to my room, which turned out to be his old room back in his house on Long Island. Or at least it was evidently so from its shape, size, and window placement. The walls, which had formerly been bold red and blue with a huge Spiderman mural from when Pete was a kid, had been recently painted antiseptic white, and the carpet was in the process of being replaced (there were still piles of contractor tools), and there was no furniture. Pete apologized about that and left.

Before settling to sleep on the half-installed carpet, I went looking for the bathroom, but the building wasn't quite like Pete's house really was; there wasn't a single hall, but the rooms were all a warren of connections to one another. It didn't look like a hotel, but more like the rooms of Pete's house on Long Island, rearranged. Siobhan was staying in a room that looked like Pete's parent's room, but bigger, with nicer furnishings, but still covered in clutter and mess. It apparently had its own suite with its own private bathroom (Pete's parents' room never had that), but I somehow couldn't find that bathroom in all the clutter (though I knew it was there), so I kept wandering.

Soon I found my way into the hotel lobby, which was odd because while it mostly looked like a hotel lobby, the check-in desk looked like the check-in desk at an airport, and beyond it was the row seating at an airport gate. And on one side the hotel was entirely open to the mall-like airport concourse. It turns out the hotel was built into the gate at the airport where the Swiss airline came in, and it was a Swiss hotel. This was for the convenience of Swiss travellers, who could get off the plane and immediately check into their rooms since it was all in one place.

Meanwhile, in the hotel lobby part of the hotel lobby, with wingback chairs around a fireplace, there was Siobhan sitting next to Jack Bauer, both of them talking to some of the hotel staff, a plain-looking blonde-haired woman whose uniform would look equally at home in a hotel or as a stewardess, and whose English was very poor. Though I knew it was Jack Bauer (and not, say, Keifer Sutherland), he was clearly undercover, as he introduced himself to the woman as Jack Bauer, a carpet salesman from California, on a business trip. He actually winked at me as he did so, so I played along, sitting down in the chair opposite him from Siobhan, and made some extremely clumsy comment about how his travel from California was. The hotel staff/stewardess didn't notice how awkward all this undercover posturing was, because her English was so poor she was barely following any of this.

Finding no bathroom to be had in the lobby, I got up and went out into the airport concourse. Right across the hall from the hotel/gate was the Swiss Embassy, also there for the convenience of Swiss travelers. I went wandering around in it, but everything there was labelled only in Swiss, or in some of those inscrutable icons that you see sometimes where they want to sell a product or service internationally without a jillion translations, but the result is something that everyone fails to understand about equally. I found an icon that I thought might mean restroom on one of the doors and tried to head there, but was stopped by Embassy staff. I'm not sure how I knew they were stopping me because they spoke no English, but while I couldn't tell what they were saying or make them understand me, I knew for sure they were stopping me.

That's about when I woke up from having to go to the bathroom badly enough.

A few elements of the dream I can relate to other things. We had been talking about visiting Juneau; I had recently struggled with getting the lighting right with that camera to take a picture of Siobhan; and I suppose I must have seen a glimpse of Jack Bauer in a commercial at one point or another. The bit wandering around in the familiar-but-unfamiliar hotel with rooms from Pete's house obviously has some house-dream similarity, but it was only a tiny element, not the dream's dominant theme. The rest of it, I have no idea where it came from. The idea of a Swiss hotel/airport-gate/embassy in particular seems very odd, and it's not like the Swiss were on my mind, at all.

No comments: