My dreams arrived that night like echoes from a narrow tunnel from which hardly any light seeps. Once again I was crawling though the sewage drains I could only fit in as a child. There was a patchwork of cobwebs on the ceiling and my knees waited in the unhurried stream. All around I could hear muffled sounds of the outside world – those that no longer frightened me. It was from this secret place that I was awoken by a strange noise outside my bedroom window. It was like a soft neigh shrouded in fog. It comforted and disturbed me. It came and went several more times. I felt enchanted, as if something were tugging at a rope tied around my waist. I ventured without a second thought.
I shifted and tangoed down the hallway like a disoriented ballerina. I faltered, yes. I stubbed my toes, invariably. And I cursed my baggy new sweatpants. It was in this manner that I came upon a discarded envelope in the foyer. It reminded me of a dream I had as a boy. In the dream, I was alone in a decrepit shelter resting on a cliff above the sea. The sky was black and sent angry rain against the dank, moldy wood. The hairs on my arms grew like a million little lightning rods, as a massive whirlpool in the sky, which funneled down into the ocean, devoured the moon. In an instant I was fearful of my life and began to cry. Then, on my damp arms, I felt a touch and found my grandmother pulling me into her arms; my cries stifled against her breast. The hurricane stretched towards us and as we held each other tight my tears pooled up in the reservoir of my stomach like some great awful doom. First the stormed ripped away the wall. Then, it heaved us into the blackness like vacuumed roaches. My senses swirled. Something inside me broke. My eyes went static. My breath left me. I dissolved and floated and died.
The next thing I remember is my consciousness waking up and seeing the dissolved contents of my physical self in a plain white envelope, unaddressed. It floated in a diffused, white void. There was a simple, steady, unending hum. Then I awoke. I stepped onto the sidewalk.
The streetlights burned an electric pulse in the quiet empty street: Rosewood Avenue. I was outside my house now – outside my mind. I no longer heard the noise and began to question my reality. The patter of my feet on concrete calmed me. I felt like I was a kid in the summertime. I staggered past the signs for Rosewood Avenue onto Otter Road in Beaverton. I was home and now all I heard was the noise of memory. It was distant and watchful, as if it were kept equidistant to my movement. I had fleeting thoughts of Zodiac; the sensations of viewing I could not shake. Memory, time, the recreation thereof – it was all a befuddling, confusing mess! But I could not escape. It tugged me and gushed with a rosy bloom. Past romances – my first kiss! I began to itch all over and I crawled onto a lawn. In my mind, I rolled through thick crab grass and laughed with my friends. Then I went across the street and up into my childhood room and itched my neglected ankles until the mosquito bites bled another delusion. In my mind, I cried when my friends left when I did something awful to one of them, but here I was quiet, listening. The chatter of this insistent mind wondered on and on: the smeared lights of September, and October seen through masks and fever. Tonight a strange insomnia carried me and I no longer knew what I was following.
The shadows on Rosewood had that unmistakable graininess like all other shadows and I hated it. I could not find a pure black that night - not even when I closed my eyes. So I kept them open as long as I could. I saw a visual noise on every plane and it painted the world in wicked hues. Everything was full of uncertainty. I needed something to keep me going – anything to shut off this noise.
It only grew louder.
The empty street filled with crickets crying out from the bushes. They could see me, but not each other. They were like a swarm of monkeys heckling me from their cages. I felt like crashing their midnight banana consortium I hated them so much. But, tonight, I was no midnight etymologist. I knew that one time of day they didn’t have to put up with our shit I had to put up with theirs. I could feel the rage of the crickets. They knew my crimes.
When I was little I would catch garden insects with the neighbor boys. We would hear their sounds from within the bushes, track them down, and, while cradling them in our palms, pick off each leg one at a time – just to see what would happen.
When the days grew really hot, we would borrow our parents’ sprinkler, set it out on the lawn, and run through it for hours on end. But I would hide indoors, whenever possible, because I was ashamed of what I had done. To this day, I still see a dark side to sunny days. Some of my worst memories have been on vacation. A few years ago I had a family reunion on the Oregon Coast. Family from Missouri, Utah, and Arizona all came for the gathering. Everyone was jubilant or, at the least, satiated, except me – the stick in the mud. I sat in my room for four delirious days and read the entirety of Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant. We had a room on a cliff above the beach. I moved an easy chair to the window and watched everyone toss around Frisbees below. I slept during the day and awoke at night with a crazy hunger, so I would go in the bathroom and plan my escape from reality while everyone was sleeping.
Bent from exhaustion I headed back to my apartment. The memories had finally subsided. The noises washed out into the deep-sea depths where everything is dark and quiet. Then, to my dismay, sprinkler heads peaked up from their subterranean hollows for the lawns’ nightly bath, in which I was included. I was soaked like a St. Petersburg mutt. I was overcome by the digital static of mist. All sound peaking in the red. Once, when I was five years old, I scraped my knee against a planter during a squirt gun fight in my backyard. I was captured in a storm of emotions and to this day have never been sadder. I think I cried for hours.