Dreams and Signs and Shepherds

One

Yesterday, near late afternoon, I was standing beside a creek in winter. I knew it was too cold to get in the water but did it anyways, toes and then ankles and then knees and then thighs. I went in deep — it was comfortable and wonderful — and then I felt something hurt me. Surprised, I slowly pulled my left hand out of the water to look at it, noticing a new red line raised in my skin.

I looked up and saw my mother standing there on the bank of the river, watching me. I remembered, now, her saying I shouldn’t get in the water when it was so cold, but it’s like I hadn’t heard her say it until now, until after.

“A snake bit me, mom,” I said.

She and dad were going to take me to a hospital then, but they needed to check out of the hotel first — a really nice one. I wasn’t sure why there was a hotel right beside the river or why we’d been staying there; I’ve never liked hotels. I stood there in the lobby feeling out of place and dizzy, watching my mom at the check out counter and wondering if we were waiting too long.

Two

When I finally woke up, they said it was February 1st. I realized that I had been asleep for days, for way too long, and there was something wrong with the walls now. We were trying to get him out of the house, but I didn’t know where he was.

***

Interesting dreams recently, huh? The first was from Fri and the second, Sun. In real life, yesterday was really nice, because I spent the whole entire day with friends.

Jon and I drank morning coffee together at Red Cat and caught up for hours, talking bicycles, phobias, and old loves. I watched him stir Gouda grits round and round and laughed with surprise when he said he’d once worn a tongue ring. “How COOL! I’d really love to wear a lip ring, but it’d never fly at corporate,” I said.

Matt and I met at Crestwood Coffee in the afternoon, where I ordered decaf; we talked there for a while and then got lunch elsewhere and then, on a whim, visited the science museum together — gazing at jellyfish, conducting experiments, pushing buttons and pulling levers, like children.

And then in the evening, Rodger and I got dinner at Marty’s and then grabbed drinks with his friends at Woolworth, talking tattoos and playing games until we all rode over to this indie show at The Nick. It was way past 8:30 by now and I couldn’t believe I was still awake.

“You okay?” Rodger asked in between shots of pool. The band was playing behind us, sounding good.

“I am,” I said, smiling. I was woozy (TOO MUCH whiskey and vodka) but coherent. And Rodger had been super thoughtful all evening, keeping water nearby and checking in on me frequently. It was hard to articulate things, at the time, but I was still fully there in my mind.

“I am sad that nobody loves me again,” I admitted, the words coming out slowly, but he cut me off.

“No. This — this right here…” he gripped my shoulder with one hand and used the other to point at his group of friends, some of them my own now. “This is real.”

I drove home after midnight, passed out, and woke up to a fat, black and tan Shepherd repeatedly patting my arm with her paw. I finally opened my eyes and saw her sitting right there on the bed, lowering her head and staring down at me. She’s real, too, and she’s so fucking wonderful.

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It’s catching up to me now — that harsh and nauseating recognition of having been used again. I’m still (somehow) figuring out what “NO! BAD! SCARY! UNHEALTHY!” relationship warning signs look, feel, and sound like — and beyond that, I’m also learning to, when I notice them, really consider them; to NOT wave or brush things off so quickly and casually.

The first night James stayed at my house, for instance, I already knew we shouldn’t date. I never told you all this, but I preemptively broke up with him the very next morning, and this is why.

In my room on Christmas night, he took a call from his mom, and though I could only hear his side of the conversation, in it, he was citing how much time he had left before arriving home. Which is in Chattanooga. Where he was heading the following morning.

I heard him say something like “about another hour now” and “I’ll let you know when I’m there.” I was shocked. He’d just lied to his mom! Yeah yeah, I’m an agnostic, but I’m not without morals — and lying is, intuitively, WRONG. We all know that. So that was strike numero uno.

And this was dos: In bed that evening, I couldn’t relax enough to sleep, because he kept pushing past the lines I’d drawn. I ended up being nervous and restless all night, eyes closed while fully awake. Letting a stranger sleep over on the first date is absolutely insane, I thought to myself, kind of amazed by how strangely okay I was with possible DEATH — literally INVITING it into my home.

Anyways, with numeros uno and dos in tow, I pre-broke up with the guy over text (lame, I know) the next morning, right after he left. I basically said: You lied to your mom AND you made me really uncomfortable by not respecting my boundaries. I obviously can’t trust you, and trust is everything, so we’re not going to work.

He apologized profusely, assured me he wouldn’t lie to me, and promised he’d wait however long. So I said okay. Dumb, huh? QUIT BEING SO NAIVE, JACE. He even offered to drive down and see me that same evening, but I said no, that we could wait until the weekend.

And three weeks later, I really, really wish I’d have just stuck to calling the whole thing off, like my gut told me to… but it’s done.

***

Today, I’m writing and studying, and Charlie’s making vegetable soup for dinner. I think we’ll light a fire this evening, and I might pick up my guitar and write the next song, because I’ve been feeling it waiting in the air for a while now. Or maybe I’ll do yoga. Or maybe I’ll fall asleep early again.

Tomorrow through Friday, I’m teaching a class, and then next weekend, I’ll probably be doing exactly what I’m doing today: writing, studying, reading, eating… thinking about songs while riding my bike and wondering how long it’ll be until somebody love-loves me again (or rather, actually loves me; doesn’t just say the things I want to hear so they can do the things they want with me). Why are people so TERRIBLE to each other?

For the record, I don’t hate him or miss him, not like I’ve missed some of the others. I’m just sad and empty, recovering from another letdown — feeling lonely again, and feeling a bit disappointed in myself again. It’s like beginning to get better after you’ve been sick for a while; your appetite’s only halfway there and walking up stairs makes you tired.

Well I’m being still now so I can generate good energy; being quiet now so I can hear the song I’m supposed to write…

And I know I’ll sleep soundly and dream tonight, holding paws with a goodhearted German Shepherd who really loves me and who would never ever hurt me. I know I’m in honestly good company with her. And she knows she’s always safe with me.

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(pic Matt took @ science museum yest) at this station, you turn a dial to adjust light and shadows. sometimes, depending on how the two interplay, you end up looking like a completely different person. fascinating.

 

Still here,

Aun Aqui

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