The familiar sound of cars driving down Poplar Street were an immense source of confusion when I woke up this morning. I’ve woken up to that sound for the last eight months or so, and yet I still looked up to see the still more familiar silohuette of the rhodendron-like tree that stands outside my window, and the houses across the street that I watched a new couple move into just last week, and in the distance the “skyscraper” of the Marcus Whitman hotel, protruding somewhat ostentatiously above my home of Walla Walla. I gave a little shake of my head to clear it, as they do in the movies and cartoons &etc, and put my head back down on my pillow with the Wild Things pillowcase.
In the dream I had just emerged from, I was in China. I was lying in my bed in a strange, strange hotel, where my room was the size of a high school gym for midgets, yet only contained a dresser and bed. I was very self-consciously aware of the fact that I still couldn’t quite open the correct drawer of the dresser the first time, because I had put my clothes into it only three days previously when I had arrived at the hotel. Everytime I wanted something, a pair of jeans, for instance, I would open three drawers before I found the correct thing. And I was a little concerned that I had put my clothes away in the first place. The hotel was meant to be a very temporary measure, until I connected with Bright Education, the school I’m going to work at, and Tom and Christa and James and MC.
That morning was perplexing, because I had imagined before leaving the U.S. that by this point I would be out of the hotel. The previous day, my first full day in China, my friend Serena had flown down from where she lives in Xian to help me out a little bit. (It is worth noting that Serena has appeared in several of my most offbeat anticipatory dreams over the past five years. Hey gurl.) She had showed me how to order noodles, and where the dancing spots are in Kunming, and introduced me to some of her other friends in Kunming. The two guys had gone to Whitman, yet somehow I had never met them before *except* for a very strange newsletter-esque thing called “Natesletter”–named for one of their crew. For one installment, a muscle-y and muscle-obsessed guy (read: not exactly my type in normal world) pretended to stab me, Audrey, for the sake of the story. In the dream, I only vaguely remember this, but apparantly this boorish fellow had picked me for the journalistic experiment because he had a thing for me. He thus was very exited to recreate the experience for me on a train in China, and started jumping around me with a very sharp knife, pretending to stab me viciously but stopping just millimeters from my skin. I was terrified that the train would jolt or something and the knife would plunge in, and humiliated because the Mexican family across the aisle of the train was horrified. Yet once I finally communicated to this guy to stop and he put the knife away and sat down next to me and apologized…… it felt weird to go through such an experience with another person and not hold their hand. So when he reached for my hand, I put my hand in his significantly larger and beefier hand, and tried to hide it from Serena because I knew how irrational it was–that this guy had geniunely made me terrified for my life and yet now a relationship between us was something I was considering?
(Those of you following the soap opera of my life will know how prescient this is, yet I am reassured that my unconscious translated the irony of my situation in so lucid of a “metaphor”. I’d like to think that it means I’m regaining some clarity? oh no sounding like a self-help book HELP.)
Thus on my third morning in China, I woke up wondering about this guy, and concerned that I hadn’t heard from the school, and trying to figure out how I could get Christa’s WeChat info, and where I had put my Mets shirt, because it wasn’t in the fourth drawer down which I thought was the tshirt drawer and I was so confused about everything. I needed coffee. But when I went to the kitchen (it was shared in this hotel, a little bit like a hostel. Go figure) there was a carton of mango juice in the fridge and I decided to have just a sip. It was too exquisite to not drink THE WHOLE CARTON so I took it back to my room, shaking my head at my failure to get coffee, and carried my mango juice out onto the balcony. All the balconies were connected in this hotel, and after a couple minutes of soaking in the sun and the elixir of mango juice, a couple members of the adjoining room emerged. Unsurprisingly from the perspective of the waking world, since I don’t speak Chinese yet, this family actually spoke Spanish–but in the dream it was a fantastic surprise to be able to listen in on their conversation. They were moving things inside, roping the tarp that covered their part of the balcony more firmly to its poles, because a big wind was about to come. As one does when it’s seventy degrees and sunny without a cloud in the sky, and you are a clueless character in a dream, I shrugged and continued drinking my mango juice.
But then, and I swear this to you, the wind came with zero warning. Big ole grumpy stormclouds, the most threatening shade of grey I’ve ever imagined, bore down on my particular spot on the balcony, and I stutter-stepped backwards from the force of the gale. I had to rope down my tarp and bring in the plastic balcony furniture, and I ran inside and laid down on the bed. I opened up my wee notebook where I write down all my to-do lists (it has a picture of a cat in Lisbon on the cover), and paged through to the “Before China” list. SO MANY UNFILLED IN LITTLE BOXES. I hadn’t gotten a background check, gone to the doctor to get a physical, obtained a VPN, talked to the school further about my work visa….. all things that I was supposed to do during the week I was visiting my parents in Seattle. How the heck had I not accomplished so many crucial things?!?! Wait. Did I even go to Seattle? I couldn’t seem to remember anything about the week I was supposed to have spent in Seattle. How~what? Did I go to Seattle? When did I leave Walla Walla? How did I get to China?
Then the sounds of the cars on Poplar came through and I craned my head to look up at my window behind my pillow and there was the same ole view.
The past couple days I’ve realized how much my life is about to change–in like, two short weeks! I can only picture snippets of what my life might consist of: the bookshop where I bought a Chinese language book, a restaurant called Sal’s where all the expats get their burritos and bagels when they miss home, the hot pot restaurant that was the beginning of a night of karaoke and dancing…. And I love my window, with it’s view of the Marcus Whitman and the rhodedendron-like tree, with squirrels scampering along its branches that I sometimes talk to. I love my Walla Walla, my job, my dear, dear friends, the seriously overwhelming amount of delicious wine and food, the fries at the Green, the very very cheap rent. It’s like, why would I leave this for a place I know almost nothing about? I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t have an answer for you except for maybe that delusions of grandeur and also just plain delusions probably have something to do with it.
But this dream was reassuring, as strange and disconcerting as it was. A couple weeks before I left on my Europe adventure last year, I had a dream about the family that I was going to au pair for. In the dream, the mother forbid me and the children from speaking anything but English and from leaving a fairly constricted playroom. The poor children of course kept trying to leave the room, and since they didn’t speak any English whatsoever, the dream consisted of me attempting to lure them back in / sternly telling them to stay in the room–in Spanish. I truly didn’t have any other option (it was a dream, okay?), and yet the whole time I was filled with panic at the fact that I was speaking in Spanish and not in English. That dream turned out to be fairly prophetic, as the mother of that family was a Nightmare and the little girl a Hellion, and I communicated with both in Spanish a good ninety-seven percent of the time.
This China dream was nowhere near as stressful to experience as the Spain dream. Yes, I’m freaking out in a very textbook manner, but it’s more about how much my life is about to change, and not what it’s going to change into. A very favorable distinction, I think. I hope.
Walla Walla 4eva but China here I come, baybyyyyy.