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To Dream Beyond
I woke up. Not on my pillow, but lying diagonally on the bed with my head resting on my only stuffed animal; a shaggy miniature husky. I was in this sort of daze where I know I had the most horrible night of sleep, or lack of sleep, and yet I cannot remember anything. I know I had a nightmare, but cannot think of what actually happened, or why at that moment as I wiped slobber from my chin, why I was completely frightened to fall back asleep. I was so tired from my restlessness and I was completely exhausted from all the work. I call everything work and I shouldn’t. Taking care of my ninety-six year old grandma shouldn’t be work to me.
One day off. I needed it. I had prepared to sleep and sleep. And yet I kept seeing my grandmother’s face in my dreams, and I felt completely guilty. It wasn’t just her face. It was her voice too. Telling me the story of how she once ended up in a mental institution; which is absurd because she’s always been completely sane. Enough, though, enough. I need one day off. Just this one day.
Waking up finally, when the sun had come up out of the foggy mess people call early winter. I prepared to work on my hobbies. Hobbies used to be a joke before I realized they were all I had left. Now I hold dear to my camera, notebook, and painting utensils. They are my best friends, and my greatest companions. I don’t even remember how I got here. Here in this empty, first floor apartment. Next to a running trail and an overgrown marsh. Cheap rent and obligation to my grandma? Maybe, though, maybe I was running from the obligations of my youth. I was supposed to be going out, meeting people and trying my hardest to be happy, and yet that scared me more than being alone, or even slightly alone.
I did my usual routine that morning. Vacuumed my seven hundred square feet apartment, put on my running shoes and winter jacket, and went for a seven mile run. Running is the only time I don’t feel lonely, and I am an addict to the pain of weary joints. As well as an addict to my phone; the only other thing that stops me from checking out of life. I used to believe that loneliness could kill, and now I think I might just have a death wish. But I think too much, that’s what got me in to this weird mental status in the first place.
Mile three, my phone goes off loudly in the middle of the wooded running trail. It scared me completely to my core. I need to change my ringtone. I looked down to see who was calling and it was an unknown number. I hate foreign numbers, I remained frightened but I decided to answer.
“Hello? Lucy’s cellphone.”
“I’m sorry to inform you that your grandma has just passed away.”
Now this news was shocking. I am not used to being shocked. It was as though everything I had stored in the far away crevasse of my mind had suddenly emerged and I not only felt guilty but I also felt alive. And for a number of reasons I just kept running. I ran until the trail ended. It cut off awkwardly unto a dock. And it was then when I realized that I never really thought about death and yet I had this sudden desire to join my grandma; to just jump off this dock and land in a marshy world but not emerge. I knew this desire would pass; it had to because I was unable to go any further. I think I finally reached what they call “Rock Bottom”. I think I finally realized that I was clinically depressed. And maybe I needed help. Maybe.
Three Months Later…
“You’re still in denial.”
“I’ve proved my point again. You are unable to just let yourself see yourself.”
“Well, that didn’t make any sense.”
“This is why Lucy. Why you need to go to a real doctor.”
“I. I know. But they’ll know that I am an empty, depressed, and altogether a worthless human being. And they’ll try to change me. Force me to be happy. And happiness just doesn’t exist.”
“Yes it does. Don’t you smile when you see me?”
“But you shouldn’t because I have nothing to offer you.”
“You’re the only friend I have. You’ve have everything to offer.”
“Happiness does exist, Lucy. It begins to emerge when you realize you’re not the center of the universe.”
“Well, I know that I am not the center of the universe. But I also know what the universe is random. And so is everything that exists, or everything that we think exists. All that there is to hold is the notion that there might just be something bigger than us. And I have a hard time believing that a superior being would let me be so wrong and so miserable.”
“Your soul is dry,” Spoke her friend. He sat in his wheelchair and took a sip of whisky.
I don’t think I have ever been right in my life. This is why all my notions about God are somewhat of a joke. If he does exist that whatever he does is completely beyond my comprehension, and if he doesn’t then we are all doomed in a way. I don’t want to die and that be that, I long for a better ending. I can see why people would prefer to believe that God is real. In fact, deep down inside my scared childlike mind, I have never stopped believing either. And then I opened my grandma’s journal. Her things are mine now.
Grandma had little belief in God. She usually spoke of her sexual exploits as a young girl and later in life her fear of loneliness. But she did say that in her most difficult circumstances in life, she prayed. “Prayer is Powerful”. That reminds me of a bumper sticker I read once. Grandma didn’t believe so fully in prayer, all she believed in was the possibility that maybe someone or something was out there listening to her cries for help. Unfortunately, she never got an answer. And now it’s my job to struggle through this intellectual maze.
No narrow-mindedness. I told myself to be open to anything. Not to shun everything that suggests there might be a God. Oh, but I didn’t feel like digging deeper, and I especially didn’t want to look into my own past. My past is where I hid the disbelief, depression, and altogether denial of myself. My first memory still haunts me.
I was standing in the snow. Naked. I was four years old, and this memory is my first and one of my most traumatic. Too cold to scream, and confused, facing the front door of my childhood home and waiting for someone to come save me. I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and I looked up. It was a man I barely knew at the time, and in the future would know all too well. His name was Gordon.
Gordon was my uncle. He watched me, when my mother was at work. He also didn’t watch me when my mother was at work and left me with his three terribly sadistic children. My first memory was him finding me stripped of clothing, sadden to my core, and frost bit.
“What are you doing out here, little gal?” He spoke. He wrapped his jacked around me and picked me up, I curled into his chest and convulsed. When we entered his house, he dropped me on the couch and proceeded to beat his children till they were crying and bruised. Listening to their screams made being saved by Gordon almost not worth it. When my mom got the news that I had somehow attained frost bite on all my toes, she drank her sorrows away with cheap chardonnay. That was 1995 in Ferris, Michigan.
Ferris was the type of town that was filled with two types of people, poor contented church goers and poor depressed atheists. My mom was somewhere in the middle, she tried to go to church but whenever a good church serving member would get close, she ran away. And I ran away with her, back to our little house tucked behind neglected apartment buildings and a liquor store. Our neighbors were my uncle and his family, and a little old lady that seemed to stay one-hundred for my entire childhood. Nothing in that town had color, or life, and seemed to be haunted by a few wayward souls. The best memories I had as a kid were driving out of the city limits on the highway, seeing beyond my surroundings. Those were the moments when I began to believe that life, color, and good people existed. If only I could be a part of that kind of life, but my poverty overwhelmed those dreams.