Bittersweet Me

I shook myself from sleep at 5:42 this morning. I was dreaming about airplanes.

Well, not exactly. Not solely. I never made it to the airplane. I was dreaming about airports.

It was a two-parter. In the first scene, I am hurrying to some regional airport — say, Syracuse — for a ten o’clock flight. My car breaks down. So I’m jogging through some suburban neighborhood at dusk looking for a ride. Some guy playing in his yard with his kids offers to take me. We get into his truck and, en route, he asks me to buy him a bottle of whiskey as compensation. I oblige, awkwardly. Once to the airport — with only ten minutes to spare — I discover my flight departed five hours ago.

Second scene: different airport, next morning. I’m trying to find the ticket counter. It’s a labarynth. The agent is a dolt. It costs a fortune to get a new ticket. The entire experience is somewhere between Kafka and Monte Python. I’m frantic, harried, unsettled. I can’t find my gate. I sit and talk with some colleagues a while, then head for my flight. When I realize I’ve left my bag with them, I circle back, but they’re gone. And so is the bag. And I can’t find my gate. I’m running in circles. I stop for a moment when I see a full-fledged funeral procession heading down a jetway. I continue running in circles around the terminal, completely lost.

Then I shake my head unconsciously, as if to say, “No more!” And I wake up. And the sun is rising over my shoulder. And I feel disoriented. And I can’t fall back to sleep.

Now, those of you who’ve been playing along at home know that, thematically, this sorta’ thing’s not so new. It is an interesting variation on the much-heralded, much-dreaded, much-analyzed plane crash dream. Heck, I couldn’t even find the plane. That’s new.

But not too surprising, all things considered.

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