I have most of the recurring dreams in my life in cars. The nightmarish moments have always been that feeling that I no longer have control and that sense of impending disaster.
The other strange thing about my dreams? I'm always dying in them. Sometimes the end of the world arrives. Often it's just the end of me-in-the-world, but in every case I always have this long moment of peaceful detached observational clarity.
"Oh. So this is how it is to be dying."
(or - "Oh, so this is how it will be for the world to end.")
I think that its a strange trope to return to in one's dreams, but I don't mind it. It gives me a calm feeling about death in general.
So when I was driving home from the gym on Saturday, I had stopped to turn left just two blocks from my house and with no warning at all an SUV plowed into the back of my honda. The driver said that she had just looked up and there was no time to do anything.
I don't remember what happened next. I'm not sure if there's a gap in my memory or if the jolt between:
1. sitting peacefully turning left; a routine drive home -- and --
2. laying prone on the collapsed front seat of the car seeing the world float above through the moon roof and hearing the curious whistle of wind through the now shattered rear window --
was so disjointed that my brain can't really put the two moments together and so there is the sense of a gap.
I have a vague memory of the loud explosive sound (and neighbors from houses a block away came running out) but it's very vague. And no real memory of my body's movement in response to the impact.
Later I thought that it reminded me of a montage, a cut, in a film. Since I'm always seaming together unalike sequences of action: juxtaposing unalike images, I was suddenly aware (again) of the violent relationship that is suppressed in film. If a film had its own consciousness, I would be repentant and empathic and full of regret and the mistreatment of moving-images right now. Because more than the slight lingering pain in my back and neck and heat -- it bothers me to have MISSING MOMENTS. The collapse of one thing against another thing that do not belong together.
As I lay there, drifting south on Market Avenue, the trees and the sunlight floating past above my moonroof, I did mental math in roughly this order -- trying to make sense of the gap:
1. I'm dying. So this is how it is to be dying. Not unpleasant. Slightly beautiful. More like life than not, only also leaking away....
2. Oh! This is a dream! When did this dream start? I have to wake up! I didn't know I was dreaming.
3. No. I'm not dreaming. I had to get home and wake up Jaelyn. I'm awake, then why am I...?
4. And what is that sound...?
5. I'm laying down! In the car! And the rear window is missing!
6. I have to stay alive. I have children. I'm a parent. Jaelyn. Addison. I can't die. I have to stay alive.
And then I sat up and looked around. Market Avenue. South Bound Passing Lane. Wrecked Car. I need to get off the road.
And I let the next car pass and I turned on my (non)blinker and pulled into the driveway which was, by now more than a football field south of my initial impact.
I waited for the officer to fill out the report and then did not wait for the tow truck, I just gathered my gym bag and walked the two blocks back home and woke up Jaelyn.