Keep Your Dreams to Yourself . . .

and your hands on the wheel

Illustration by Peter Arkle

Whatever you do, don’t describe your dreams to me. I hate that. I will sprain my sockets trying to suppress my eye rolls. I will get lockjaw trying to stifle my yawns. I’d rather sit through seventy homicide autopsies than listen to someone describe how they dreamed they were naked in their high school hallway with nothing to hide behind but a dry washcloth. Everyone thinks their dream is the exception, but please have some consideration and don’t ever, ever assume people are interested in a description of your damn dream. I mean, seriously.

That said, I had the craziest dream last night. But before I tell you about it, I need to clarify a few things. First, I’m afraid of everything. I’m not kidding. I am literally afraid to walk down my own street. Granted, I live in urban Atlanta, where a few of my neighbors have been shot recently, and the government home for wayward nutcases up the way doesn’t help.

Also, let’s not forget that I live at a curve in the road that is a Bermuda Triangle when it comes to cars. In the seven years I’ve lived here, twice a car has jumped the curb and landed on the porch of the house next door; once a car knocked down a telephone pole and destroyed a transponder that blacked out our entire block for three days; once a moving van caught fire and someone’s entire household got incinerated right there on the street; and once someone tore the front bumper off their car by backing a trailer into their driveway (that was me, but still). All of this right outside my door. And that is not even counting the breakdowns.

Cars constantly break down in front of my house. I can hear it: Oop, there goes somebody’s transmission. Oop, another tire blowout. Oop, somebody dropped a driveshaft. I want to point out that I don’t live on a busy street at all. It’s a quiet street as far as traffic is concerned; it’s just that an inordinate percentage of that traffic breaks down in front of my house.

So yeah, I’m afraid to walk down my own street. But that doesn’t mean I don’t do it. Again, if I tried to avoid all the things I fear, I’d spend the day curled up in the large cabinet in the living room where I keep my folded quilts. So, you know, I get out there and face it all. Every day I walk out the door and order that salad (up yours, Ebola!), or enter the dark parking garage (in your face, rapist!), or refuse to join a church (take that, Satan!), or encounter black cats in my path, or maybe stroll the streets of my colorful neighborhood (screw you, serial killers and texting drivers!). It’s an effort, but I make it.

One fear I tolerate, though, is my fear of skydiving. Because that fear is rational. I mean, people should be afraid to jump out of a plane. My fear of skydiving is one of the few feelings I can count on myself to unequivocally support, because—oh, yeah—I’m even afraid of my own ability to talk myself out of being afraid of things. Like, I taught myself to ski even though Sonny Bono died doing it, and I learned to scuba dive even though wet suits are catnip to great whites, and I walked up the Eiffel Tower even though I was certain all the weight I’d gained would cause me to flop like a bag of bacon fat after the second flight. And—get this—all my life I’ve been afraid of getting overweight, too, and if you were to look at me right now you’d see I’ve successfully faced that fear, as well.

But the skydiving—I’ve always given myself a pass on that. And here is where my dream comes in, because dreams are guidance, really, if you know how to decipher them. That’s where the term “sleep on it” comes from. Don’t discount your dreams in that regard—and also don’t think they’re interesting to anyone but you—but again, my dream: I jumped off a plane. I didn’t step off; I wasn’t pushed off; I wasn’t led off. I took a running jump, arms outstretched. I don’t know if I had a parachute. I don’t even think I cared. All I know is that I landed safely, and when I woke up I heard this: “Just jump, bitch. What the hell are you so afraid of?”