You know that dream? You know the one where crazy things are happening in the dream fog surrounding you and then you have the sudden realization that you have gone out in public without your clothes? Well, this actually happened to me….
It’s early Monday morning and I’m feeling a little foggy. I am currently train commuting from Providence to Boston for work and on this particular morning I am running behind. Todd needs to leave early so I have decided to catch a ride with him to the station and take an early train to Boston. So I am running to get ready, but still, you would think I’d notice a thing like that….!
Commuting by train means I carry an enormous black bag – it’s like Cygnus X-1…a very dense black hole from which nothing, not even light, can escape; or as Todd calls it “The Purse Abyss.” It has everything I need for a long working day in Boston and then some. But as soon as I arrive on the platform and reach inside for my mobile unit I realize….it’s not there!!! And not just my phone, because I carry it in a leather case which also has my money and credit cards. I do this for convenience; to be sure I always have everything I need when I go out. I dig desperately for a couple of minutes and…nothing.
My mind begins frantically casting about for ideas. “What do I do now? Who can I call? Oh, wait…no phone! Can I ask someone on the platform to borrow theirs? Oh wait….whose phone number do I know? Not my boyfriend of the past four years; nope, don’t know it. My son? I have a dim memory but…nope. Work….nope. Uber? No mobile. Can I just catch the train to work? Without money? And is it really practical to spend an entire 12-hour day in Boston trying to work without my mobile, my numbers, addresses, client records…?” It’s about 7-8 miles to Todd’s apartment so I’m not walking and still getting back in time to catch a later train to Boston even in time to be late to work.
Deciding motion is better than sitting and wringing my hands, I leave the platform, still trying desperately to think of something. “Pay-phone? Nope…no numbers, no money. There is a dream quality to this moment; a feeling of complete powerlessness. I climb the stairs cross over the tracks and walk toward the parking lot where I see a large white shuttle bus. It occurs to me that perhaps it will be going to Providence or Pawtucket…somewhere close to Todd’s apartment where I am currently staying. Perhaps she will take pity and agree to drop me?
As I approach the shuttle and begin to tell her the tale of my sad dilemma - acutely aware that I probably sound completely foolish - something catches my eye. I look down and realize that the entire left side of my dress has come open from underneath my arm to below the hip! The seam has simply come apart. Perfect. So; if you were a shuttle driver and you were approached with this story at 7:15 in the morning by a woman in a black dress which has completely fallen apart, would you give her a ride? While trying desperately to think of something I can say that might convince this woman that I am not crazy, drunk or indigent, I ruffle around in the black hole and pull out the long wrap sweater which merciful providence inspired me to throw in there this morning -- just in case I found myself naked and penniless at the train station.
That shuttle driver is surely an angel because – even though she has just watched me walk across the parking lot half-naked -- she is still willing to be helpful. While I am trying compose myself and to think of something, she suggests a taxi. Oh yeah….taxis! Do those still exist???? She makes the call and spends a few minutes painstakingly describing exactly where I am while I stand outside of the shuttle hoping she’s not actually calling the psych unit to come fetch me. She finishes. I thank her profusely and return to the platform to wait.
While sitting on the steps trying to compose myself, I am reflecting that it’s remotely possible that although I feel remarkably lucid, this might actually be a dream from which at any moment I am going to wake with an accompanying feeling of profound relief; “Ahh yes…thank goodness! That was only a dream!”, I hear a sound and look up. An extremely large white goose - the largest I have ever seen - is walking down the platform in my direction. As I watch, he waddles right up to me, to within maybe two feet and stops, cocks his head, looks at me and begins to talk. No, of course he is not speaking English or any other remotely human language. He is speaking goose….but there is so much of it, that it sounds like he is telling me something in great detail. In response I say, “Hello! You realize don’t you, that you are only a dream figment?” Unconvinced by my assertion, he continues talking to me, occasionally ruffling his wings for the next 2-3 minutes. Then he simply turns around and walks away, back down the platform, in the direction from which he came.
Dream or reality? My original intention was to end the story here and allow you, the reader, to make up your mind. But all of my trusted reader/editors have protested; ‘No! You can’t leave us here!” So I bow to pressure.
Awake or asleep, all of this has a surreal quality and invites me to ponder the nature of reality. How do we know what’s real and what isn’t? For sci-fi film lovers, there’s a moment at the end of “Inception” when Leonardo DiCaprio spins the small top, which he carries to help him tell reality from the dream world, on a table and then walks away to embrace his children. Behind him the top continues to spin without slowing or stopping and we are left to wonder; is he awake or still caught in the dream? I wonder in that moment; “Does he care? He is reunited with his children. What does it matter if it’s real or a dream?”
But back to me….
“Slim” taxi arrives as the goose disappears…a slow fade from one scene into the next. Although I have not told him my story, only that I usually call Uber but don’t have my mobile, he treats me to a dissertation on the superiority of taxis over Uber: “Sure, Uber is cheap, but what happens when you can’t find Uber? What happens when there’s no Uber in the area? Then you need Slim. Then you call Slim…..” He returns me to Todd’s apartment in Pawtucket and charges me $30 for a ride that would have cost $13-15 on Uber.
Dress changed, back to the train station, and I make it to Boston by 11am. I grab a coffee to calm my nerves. As I recount the whole story to Danielle, the manager at Christofle, I speculate to her on the possibility that I am still asleep. Whereupon she vehemently assures me, “Collette, I know I am here! This is not a dream!”
But still I wonder…..
Collette is a traveler, writer, art lover and creative marketing consultant. After twenty-five years in the designer fashion industry, working for Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, she took a sabbatical and wandered away into the wide world to find adventure, to explore, meditate and learn. For a year she traveled alone; a container ship ride across the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan, China and Hong Kong; ferries and trains, busses and planes across Southeast Asia and Australia; eight days sitting in silence at the feet of Mooji; Advaita Vedantist spiritual teacher; living and traveling for two months in Spain while studying Spanish -- which she hopes someday to master.
Returning to the US, Collette settled in Providence where, attracted by the beauty of the city, the miles of Rhode Island coastline and the crazy art vibe, she hopes to contribute to what she believes is a developing urban renaissance. In addition to 'finding her cool', she is currently gathering new stories from life and the art around her and working on a full length book about her journey.