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The Drowning Dream / Going to Sleep / Awake and Away

October 26, 2012

I start NaNoWriMo in seven days, and I feel the need to do some writing sprints. While the “novel” I’ll be writing is non-fiction, there’s definitely a warm-up period where I’ll have to get used to writing a lot at a stretch. Here is the first of these “mini-sprints”. This is all nonfiction, but feel free to take little to none of it seriously. After all, it’s just an exercise.

The Drowning Dream

In my dream I’m going about a free, sunny day with the boys. We run errands in the van, get back home and kick around. We’re downstairs in the big entry way, Mom upstairs, running the hair dryer. I see a wave forty feet high rushing toward the house. There’s no explaining this, no understanding it. There’s just reaction and adrenaline. I grab the boys and follow my first instinct, which is to shut us in a closet. We live in tornado country after all, so that’s what we’re really trained to do.  Besides, there’s not time to do anything else.

I don’t even have time to call out to Mom, the wave has smothered the house and water is flowing in under and around the door, fast. We’re quickly submerged and I have time to think that there’s no way out, no way we can possibly survive this sudden mountain of water sitting on everything.

Going to Sleep

The Narnia series of books was one of my very favorites when I was a kid, and of them, my favorite scene is from The Silver Chair. Scrubb and Pole have been whisked away to Narnia, or so they suppose, near the beginning of the story. They’re standing on a green empty space at the top of an impossibly, almost unimaginably high mountain. The clouds are so far below, they look like distant sheep, and the land below that is too distant to make out at all. He falls, and the Lion saves him, but that’s not the part I really like. It’s that beautiful open space, sitting so tall and so clear and alone. It’s so lonely and away, it’s thrilling, you see?

We dream before we fall asleep, or rather as we’re falling asleep. I didn’t know this until I was about sixteen or seventeen, lying in the dark of my room and drifting. I was also running pell-mel on the top of that mountain, all alone way up in the sky, tearing toward the edge of the cliff and unable to stop. Three feet before the end of the ground, I tripped and fell on my face in the dream. My body was still connected and awake enough to react, and I woke myself up by jerking my hands and knees up to break the fall.

Awake and Away

Maybe two years later, I found out that there are holes in the world. I don’t actually know whether they’re connected to sleep and dreams, but I tend to think they’re not. The holes are far too real for that, far too terrifying at a very tiger is about to eat me level.

I worked the UPS ramp at the airport for two years in college. It was a great job – union pay for part time work at 18 years old, overtime during the holidays. And I was working in and around the planes, which I love, even worship a little bit. Why not? They can fly.

While I worked there, I made a few friends. One that I’ll call Jake was an alt/hard rock musician from a little Texas town, who really didn’t feel to me like he belonged there. In Texas I mean, not at the ramp. From him, I picked up an interest in out of body experiences (psychic, not drug-induced). So I got some books and read up, practiced, thought about it, and tried some more.  After a few months I began to hit the “vibrational state” mentioned in the books. That was really cool: you were fully conscious, totally relaxed, and suddenly started feeling like a giant electric toothbrush was shaking your soul out of sync with your body, head to toe.  Once, while practicing on the couch, I dropped about six inches down out of my body, no shit. I was so excited at the success that I lost focus, and fell right back in, but I stayed keen on the subject.

Many nights (and little success) later, I was practicing in bed before sleep, and I fell out of myself a little bit again. Now, Jake had described several of his own OOB trips to me, and there are apparently different kinds of places you can end up. There’s this world, of course – there are plenty of accounts of people practiced in the art of separation going off to other rooms or houses or even states to visit another. And then there’s another plane – sorry, but we can’t talk about this without getting pretty hippy-dippy and metaphysical – where the rules are all different, and apparently you can speak to the deceased, or other spirits, or who knows what. I don’t know anything about that, but I did see the holes in this world.

When you fall out of your body, you’re completely awake and aware.  You can still see and hear, and I think there’s still some kind of sensation (but I can’t swear to that any more). That night in bed, I kept my focus so I wouldn’t snap back, and kind of took a look around myself. My memory gives me a great deal of darkness – the room was black, but I could see slightly better than I could with my eyes. There were a couple of the holes in the world across the room, of indistinct size and shape (but I’d guess about two feet across, and oval).  A sound caught my attention, and I rolled myself over a little. The floating Me must have still been overlapping my waiting body a little, because my focus found the bed very close in front of me. There was another hole there, maybe four inches across, in the pillow.

It was breathing.  It was breathing, and it could swallow me.

There are several kinds, and levels, of terror.  I’m a good one for terror – things scare the shit out of me. Horror movies and books, noises in the night, my own runaway imagination, danger around my kids.  If you’re lucky enough, like me, to have a phobia of some sort, you get the extra added panicky terror in fairly everyday situations. “Crowded elevator? Here, have a freakout!”  I remember clearly the terror I felt at six years old, when I fully and thoroughly realized that I, too, could die. Would die, someday.

The kind of terror that hit me when I found my incorporeal face in front of that hole in the word was the terror of annihilation. I felt it with every single thing that I was, that within lay complete zero, the becoming of nothing, O zorn!  I leapt into myself the way you’d launch yourself away from an onrushing train, and I was just as safe. The hole wasn’t in the same reality as my body; it was in that other place that overlaid this world.

I wondered quickly thereafter if maybe I misinterpreted the hole and the fear I felt. Maybe it wasn’t something dangerous at all, maybe it was a passage to another plane. Maybe it was just a bump in the fabric of what I was seeing, and I saw it wrong with my new, insubstantial eyes. I have wondered more than once whether I actually rolled over and came face to face with my own stupid, open mouth, and freaked out over misinterpreted anatomy. I know that I’m that kind of dipshit, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

But I know something else about myself. This bit I learned when I was practicing lead-rope climbing for the first time in a gym, and fell. When you fall in top rope climbing, the rope catches you almost right away. With a lead rope, you get to free-fall a bit first. The speed at which I fell and hit the wall scared the shit out of me, and I never went up a wall again. That’s just me.

I’ve never been out of my body since that last time. I’m afraid of the holes.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2012 11:09 pm

    Very freaky and cool, that last bit. You have an excellent rhythm for prose. The end was especially sound, wraps things up tight.

  2. October 31, 2012 2:05 pm

    Are you Rodney Landrum?

    You are being asked to login because is used by an account you are not logged into now.

    By logging in you’ll post the following comment to The Drowning Dream / Going to Sleep / Awake and Away:
    Very interesting, Jen. After reading this I had to comment. The first line that caught my eye was the 40 foot wave which reminded me of a band called 50 Foot Wave fronted by ex Throwing Muses singer, Kristin Hersh. Then to see you have read about and have experienced OOBEs. I spent several months doing this myself in college and became quite proficient at it. Then to see you completed the National Novel Writing Month. Very cool. I am doing that this year which will be fun during PASS Summit. Anyway, just wanted to drop a comment and say this is pretty cool.

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