Sunday, December 07, 2003

I had a nightmare last night.

I dreamed that I'd gone back into time and found myself on the morning of September 11th, 2001. It was early in the morning before the planes hit and I was in New York. I looked up at the two towers and realized where I was and what was about to happen. I ran into the lobby of one of the towers and told the person at the information desk that he had to evacuate the building and why. He asked me how I knew this was going to happen, and I certainly wasn't going to tell him it was because I'd traveled back in time. It was New York, and to him I'd just be another nut off the street. I said because I'd heard it through someone who had warned me, and he said that he wasn't going to evacuate the entire World Trade Center just because a friend had told me that someone was going to crash planes into the buildings. "Never will happen," he said, "No one is going to fly a plane into this building, and they surely aren't going to collapse."

"But they will," I said, "you have to warn these people to get out." I thought of all the lives I could save, the families that I'd keep intact. The ones that wouldn't have to jump. I pleaded with him to at least get the top floors out, but he refused. Being a dream, I found myself holding a bullhorn and started yelling at people in the lobby to evacuate the building and to tell the people on the top floors to come down. Some looked at me like I was crazy, while others pondered what I was saying, that "a plane was going to crash into the building."

The dream was spent running up the stairs and telling people to get out, having them either look at me and shut their doors in annoyance, or take heed, but too slowly. They weren't sure if I was with security and whether they should follow my directions.

Then, the building shook as the first plane hit, and I knew everyone inside had only an hour. Some of the people that I encountered reasoned with me that they couldn't leave their desks because their bosses would object, and I said, "Don't you understand? There is going to be nothing left. This is all going to collapse and turn to dust!"

Again, they said, "It will never happen. These buildings will be here forever. Besides, it's safer inside than out there." Out there, the bodies had started to fall, and more debris. They then smiled at me apologetically and politely shut the doors to their glass enclosed offices in my face.

So, I ran into the other building among a mob of people who were fleeing the lobby, shouting at them to look up and not get hit by the falling bodies. "Spot," I yelled at people blindly running out, "spot them to see where they are going to land, then run!"

When I reached the lobby of the other building, I warned them that another plane was coming. The desk attendant refused to evacuate because of the debris that was falling down outside. "They're safer in here, and no way is another plane going to hit."

I tried to convince him it wasn't an accident, that he needed to save the tenants in the building. Again, he refused, so up I went again with my bullhorn yelling at people to get out. As I trounced up the stairs, knowing that I was putting myself in danger, I thought of all the people that I could save, and that I could change the results of this day. My own safety was the furthest thing from my mind.

The second plane hit, and I was running back and forth between buildings, screaming at people not to get hit by the falling bodies and hearing the horrible sounds they made as they hit the pavement.

I jerked awake in the middle of it sweating so heavily that my sheets were soaked. Sweat was dripping down my sides and in every nook and cranny of my body. I remember thinking that I needed to get back to that dream and tell those people running not to get hit by the bodies, and to run as far away from the buildings as they could.

And then I realized I had to get to work. First to shower, then feed the cats who were meowing at me impatiently. After that, to try and salvage something to wear as I stumbled around in a stupor somewhere between reality and the dream from which I'd just woken up. I think when the cold air hit me as I walked out the door it helped place me firmly in the present, but when I arrived to work I found the crowds, colorful merchandise, and noise too much for me to bear at times. I fought off a headache, maneuvered around people, worked at the cash register with a pleasant demeanor and helped people find the books they were looking for. But inside, I just wanted to be somewhere quiet.

I'm trying to figure out that dream. I have a good idea what it was trying to tell me, but I'm going to let it sink in for awhile. I've been thinking of a lot of things lately, as my mind never stops racing and analyzing. Like this morning, I'm stuck somewhere between two places and don't know which one is more true to me. Not physical places, but psychological ones. I'm revisiting a lot of things and dealing with them up close and personally. Things that I thought were long put away and folded neatly in a closed drawer. However, when I opened that drawer, I saw that there were a lot of creases and that those things had not been put away as neatly as I thought. And now, I'm not sure who that makes me and if I like it or not. Was I better before realizing this, or better off now even though it makes me feel like not as nice of a person? But, a much stronger person. Am I better prepared to push myself further or am I more fragile than I've ever been? It's been an intricate, frustrating dance.

However, I feel more real than I have in a long time.

And at least I'm dancing.

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