Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dream - With my grandmother, on the bridge

On Friday morning, June 19, 2009, I dreamed about my family taking a trip in a car to some kind of tourist destination, and sometime after arriving there I took my grandmother for a sight-seeing walk on a tall concrete bridge, during which she became ill and had trouble breathing.

In the dream, the family was traveling in a car out to some place far from town. My father was driving. My two sisters were still little, making it probably in the late 1960s, though the car seemed newer, possibly the 1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, though I'm not sure it was initially as big as that. It was a station wagon, though, a big one, and later in the dream it was thought of as the Oldsmobile. With that and the age I seemed to be, sometime in the 1970s seems most logical.

We were going up though a series of hills to gradually higher ground. The road here was rock-hard dirt, reddish brown, carved out of much steeper hills, frequently with steep cliffs of hard dirt at the sides, the remnants of the former hills. Sometimes these were fairly thick and other times only a few feet, but still rising high, maybe ten feet or more. The dirt was too hard and stiff to break or fall. The road was a broad two lanes, and didn't have normal markings, but seemed to have broken black lines on the outside edges of the lanes and in the middle. There was also a hard dirt shoulder, looking much the same as the rest of it, a light reddish brown. Between the cut-out peaks, sharp drop-offs sometimes ran along the road, especially as the road got higher. Besides going up and down, the road also had curves in it.

My father was driving very fast, an almost frantic look on his face, as he kept his eyes fixed on what lay ahead. I was sitting in the front passenger seat, and occasionally looked over at him. The driving fast concerned me. I wasn't sure how well the tires would stick to this kind of surface, but he kept whizzing around the corners anyway. Traffic was fairly light, but there were some other cars around, in front and behind us, and sometimes one would go past in the other direction. One time my mother, from the back seat, asked him why he was going so fast, but I'm not sure what he said, or if he said anything about it.

We were getting close to our destination now. We went around a big broad turn and ahead was the entrance, past a big cut-out peak. On the way to the peak the right side of the road was mostly open, with some low narrow projections along with outright gaps. One extended projection ran like a low thin wall, maybe a couple of feet high and thirty feet long, and there were also occasional thin projecting peaks maybe two or three feet high, along with big gaps. I could see the rounded, sharply sloping ground beyond, maybe with a slope of as much as 70 percent in places.

My father was talking to my mother now about something, his head partly turned, only half looking at what he was doing. I watched as the car drifted to the right onto the shoulder, toward the projections at the edge. It seemed to go on for a disturbingly long time, as I waited for him to notice or perhaps for someone else to notice and say something. Finally someone did say something, "Watch out!" I'm not sure who it was, it could have even been me, though it really doesn't seem so. It was late now in the process, and we were well onto the shoulder, maybe a foot or two from the far edge of it and the projections or the drop-off.

My father turned back to the front to look at what was happening. His eyes got big and his face settled back into his neck a bit, with his mouth in kind of a teeth-gritted grin of fear and concentration. He seemed unable to pull us back on the road, though. I'm not sure why. It seemed that he couldn't control the car well enough, or felt that he couldn't, and we continued to drift off to the side, hitting the low narrow wall of hard dirt, going about a third over it. I could feel the car grinding against it and hear the sound it made, and pieces and chunks were breaking off, sheered off by the front of the car, and the big pieces and what was left grinding irregularly against the bottom.

Then we were past it in an open section, with a few small thin projecting peaks, the car still going to the right, the two right wheels apparently on the slope, the car in danger of completely sliding off and falling, probably tumbling, down the slope to whatever awaited at the bottom, however far that might be. Not far ahead and approaching fast, was a large piece of hill left over from the cut-out. It was probably fifteen to twenty feet across at the base, though the side facing us wasn't flat, but severely rounded, especially the side toward the road. It was probably twenty to thirty feet high, narrowing sharply as it rose. It looked like we were going to smack right into it and then go off the road completely, probably to our deaths, if the initial impact didn't kill us first. Only seconds remained, at most.

I closed my eyes and tried desperately to think of a way out. I may have made some broken prayers initially, but then I remembered hearing about someone who had the ability to get out of bad situations by saying or thinking "anomaly" over and over, while thinking of a desired different outcome. I tried it, just having time to say anomaly a few times, probably in my head, but having trouble, in the immediacy of the situation, coming up with clear alternatives. Did I want us to be somewhere else entirely? But we wanted to be here to go to this place. I finally came up with the thought that I wanted everything to turn out alright, and that no one get hurt.

I felt the Oldsmobile sliding sideways, and knew that my father had purposefully done it, to try to minimize the crash and improve the chances of getting back on the road. Most of the car was off the road and on the slope, coming up sideways against the tall hill, the wheels grinding and spinning against the dirt and pieces of dirt, the front wheels still on the road. A low ridge of dirt, perhaps a foot high, though maybe a little taller before we ran over it, was under the car from side to side. I could see it all in my mind, from a position up in the air a bit and forty or fifty feet back the way we had come.

Finally we climbed back up onto the road, and we drove leisurely through the opening in the hill, toward the tall gates. The whole process had taken only a few seconds, though it seemed to stretch out in time while it happened.

Then we went inside and were walking around looking at things. The place was a tourist attraction of some kind, evidently celebrating the geology of the area, perhaps other things too. I peeked in at the eating place, a fairly large one. It had a stack of TV dinner packages along a wall, on a wooden shelf structure that was basically just some slats. They were apparently a kind that didn't need refrigeration. I had checked in earlier and then come back, and I saw a lot of the dinners were gone now. They were relatively expensive TV dinners, deluxe ones, and some were large, family size ones. One of the large ones was lasagna, the package extolling how good it was. There wasn't a lot of selection, though. There were just a were basic types. Other, non-TV dinner types of food were available, some of it being displayed behind a long glass counter to the right of the shelves of TV dinners, and some more on a high shelf that ran along the wall behind the counter.

I didn't think there would be time to eat now, it was getting too late. If we waited it would be dark and too late to see anything today. Most of the others had gone off, at least some to restrooms. The girls showed back up now. The oldest was probably about eight or nine and the younger one maybe five or six. My father may have gone in the restaurant to eat something, I'm not sure. I would have liked to go the restroom, too, and I also had been conscious of the need to wash my hands, since I had gone to a restroom earlier in the trip and I hadn't been able to wash my hands there. But it was really too late now, we had to get outside while it was still light.

The girls and I went out the back and saw the low sunlight on fields of yellow-green grass a few inches high. The land was rolling somewhat, and was at a little bit of a sideways slant. A ways beyond, it folded into a slight depression and then rose up again on the other side. Parts of it were in shadow, and there seemed only a few minutes of sunlight left. There was something beyond the far rise, I felt, maybe amusement park rides, maybe something else. The girls ran out into the grass, heading for it. I guessed the adults would have to catch up with them later, though I did wonder a bit about how hard it might be for everybody to find each other again. It didn't really seem like it would be a big problem, though our parents might be a little bothered.

I found myself walking, then, with my grandmother, my mother's mother, who had come with us. We were on a tall concrete bridge that curved up high above things. I think some other family members might possibly have been with us initially, but if so it was eventually just us and the other tourists. It wasn't a big crowd of people, though. In fact it was fairly thin, and mostly younger people, teens and twenties. It was night now, and we walked leisurely along. I think there was a tour guide or two also, talking about things, but I don't think we were officially on a tour, we just happened to be moving along approximately with it. The bridge was meant for traffic, and though some cars or trucks could theoretically come by at any time, there weren't any right now. If something did come we would have to move to the side to let it by. Sometimes we walked along closer to the left side, but we probably more often walked by the right side.

The bridge was covered and had walls. In some places the walls had large openings, long blank sections with not much more than a concrete railing and a low concrete wall. Other places were entirely walled, sometimes with large windows showing a wall of red rock streaked with yellow, rock that had been cut through to make the bridge, and in some places the rock went from top to bottom, replacing the wall entirely, and without any covering. Several feet beyond the wall on the right, perhaps as much as ten or twenty in some cases, was the other half of the bridge, with its own set of lanes.

Some of the windows were separated into four or more panes, with the rock directly against the window. Some had lots of smaller panes, with some of the panes having black material of some kind on the other side instead of the rock, evidently for an artistic effect, but I felt that behind the black material was more of the rock.

Other things were also on display. Some places had plaques, sometimes on broad short posts. There were also some paintings in fancy frames, and maybe an occasional small suit of armor or some other little item.

One or two times I saw on the left side, through square holes in the floor maybe a couple a feet across, another bridge underneath this one. The other bridge was smaller, and was especially for pedestrians. It had a brick or simulated brick floor, and brick on the walls. I could see happy people down there talking to each other. There seemed to be more people down there right now than up here.

As we slowly walked along, I talked to my grandmother, showing her things and trying to explain some about them, though I didn't really know much so it was mostly a matter of pointing out things, and remarking on them. She seemed interested in it, and sometimes said something too. As we went on, though, it became harder to get her attention, like she was a bit distracted, and while I was pointing out some more of the windows in the wall that had the rock and dark material behind them, she seemed to be looking more further ahead and just slightly toward the wall. We were entering a rather long section of these windows now. As we went along, I became more concerned about her, and came to the conclusion that she was wearing out, and she was too distracted by her condition to be able pay a lot of attention to what I was showing her. I finally reached down and picked her up in my arms and carried her. I went forward, walking faster now.

Some doors appeared to the left that were exits, and several people who worked at the resort quickly came, apparently from multiple directions and possibly hidden doors but not from the exits themselves, and were telling everyone that they had to get off the bridge. Evidently it was because of some traffic that was going to come by, a series of large street sweepers I think, that cleaned the bridge on certain nights. The people were rushing to the doors and opening them and going through. I saw that beyond each door was an enclosed curving lane a few feet wide that went sharply downward. All the people went down them, evidently to the other bridge below, though perhaps some of the people continued down all the way to the ground. I didn't like the exits, though. Maybe I thought they didn't lead where I needed to go, as they either went to an unfamiliar bridge or to the ground, to an unfamiliar area full of people walking around and far from the building where I needed to go.

After pausing briefly while I watched what was happening, I started walking again, hoping to find something better. Past the exits, the light dimmed a little. The displays continued for a short distance, but then ended, replaced by bare concrete walls. I walked on down the empty corridor, carrying my grandmother, alone.

As I continued on, the bridge became slanted downward a little as it headed for the other side, and the light grew more dim. I didn't see any more exits. I was starting to think I should have taken one of the ones back there after all. My grandmother didn't weigh much, it was like carrying a child, but my arms were getting tired. I hoped I could get off the bridge when it reached the bottom, but I was afraid it would start to curve up again and curve away from the building.

The bridge was getting a lot lower now, approaching the end, when the road suddenly forked, leading off in two different directions. The one on the right was fairly broad and started to curve upward again. The one on the left, a smaller one, continued downward into even dimmer light, with a lower ceiling. The opening was perhaps wide enough for two cars to pass if they weren't very big and didn't mind getting really close to each other.

Not far from where the road branched, what looked like a massive steel screw was embedded in the left branch, against the right wall of it and going up to the ceiling, or close to it. Later on, it was long enough that it did go through the ceiling. It took up maybe four or five feet of space, but still left enough room for a car to pass. I was under the impression now that some of the big street cleaning trucks might have come through there, though some might have come from the other branch. I wasn't sure if they went through by the screw, though I thought they did. It might be a tight squeeze for a big street cleaning truck, but perhaps slightly smaller models used this branch. I was also under the impression, somehow, that the giant screw was part of the equipment that was used to cut through the rock and build the bridge, though I didn't know if it was actually one of the ones that did it or was meant as a representation of one, just showing that this type of machine was used. I also wasn't sure if it was intended to be something permanent or was just temporarily left there for some reason. Although I had at first pictured it as drilling through the concrete floor, there didn't seem to be any actual evidence of this. The floor just seemed to end at it.

I paused there, at the fork in the road, uncertain what to do. My grandmother seemed to be having trouble breathing, and I had to get her to some help fast. I didn't know if the opening on the left, with the screw, actually had an opening at the bottom or if it just continued along, like the other seemed to. I could try walking all the way back to the exits the other people had used, but that would take me a long way out of my way, not only walking back to them but because they didn't seem to go directly to where I wanted to go, leaving me outside the building somewhere.

A short, young, very slightly pudgy man came toward me from the right and a little ahead. I don't know where he came from. He said it was alright, to go ahead and take the opening, indicating the left one. He said that he had noticed earlier that I seemed to be in some trouble and he had called ahead and they had prepared things, evidently meaning that a way out had been prepared, though it could have been more than that.

I went ahead down the opening, passing the massive screw, peering at it. It seemed to be solidly in the concrete floor, like the floor was cast in place around it. The scratched lines in the concrete, though, put there for better grip, smoothly went right up to the screw, with no evidence of any alteration in them, no unevenness or suddenly changing to go in a circle around it, just coming directly up to it and stopping and then starting again on the other side, like it was in fact tightly in a hole that had been drilled through the concrete, but without any chipped edges or any other evidence of drilling. The screw was tight against the concrete everywhere, too, which would be hard to achieve by drilling because the threads of the screw would have chewed up material, leaving gaps in the area between the threads, unless it really did just screw right into it instead of drilling through. However it was put there, it seemed to be permanent.

I edged on past it and went down into the increasing darkness. The path narrowed some as it went down, but there wasn't a great deal of distance to go, perhaps a hundred feet or so. I reached the bottom and the path turned to the right, but there was a door at the left, maybe two or more of them. I went through one into a small concrete room, illuminated with a pale white light from somewhere above. A series of other small concrete rooms were to the right, and maybe some also to the left, and doubling or tripling up on each other, with doors that led through them and deeper into them, becoming almost maze-like. I could see it in my mind, and pictured what could happen, seeing me or someone else going into the rooms, cautiously going deeper into them, looking ahead attentively as each door was slowly opened and passed through.

After a brief pause, while I grimaced and took in the situation, I went forward out a door opposite to the one I had come in through, in a direction away from the road and toward the building.

I was outside, then, close to the building. A few people were around, but I didn't see anybody that could help me, no emergency people or security people, or any immediately noticeable way of summoning them. My grandmother hadn't said anything for a long time, not since we had been high up on the bridge walking along, and I wasn't sure if she was still actually conscious, though her eyes were open. I went toward the building, hoping to run into a security person or someone who could help.

At the corner of the building I started to go down a covered sidewalk, when I saw an opening in a slanted inset area for a restroom. I started to go in the restroom, hoping to find someone there who could help or some method of summoning help, and maybe a couch or something to set my grandmother on, as this was a fairly deluxe place, when I backed up and looked at the sign again. It was a dark, brass-like two-part plaque mounted high on the wall above the doorway, with "RESTROOM" on the bottom part and who it was for on the top, and I didn't see earlier whether it was a men's or women's and wanted to check. I hoped it was a men's. It turned out to be a women's. I glanced briefly around but didn't see a men's restroom and wasn't sure where it might be or how close it might be. I was tired and time seemed to be running out swiftly. I might have only minutes. I thought, oh well, this will have to do, and walked in.

I glanced briefly at the scene. The room had a line of stalls on both sides. The ones on the right were larger and there were more of them, and sloped outward in a curve at the bottom, I guess as an artistic effect. A few women were outside the stalls, but all were dressed, for which I was relieved. The restroom was very large, with a lot of open space. Not too far away was a sofa-like chair and I considered setting her in that, but I felt that I had to say something first, something about what was happening and why I was there.

I said loudly that I had a problem here, that I needed some help, and the women started coming forward, some coming out of the stalls. I found that I had what looked like a large padded kitchen chair by me to the left and slightly ahead. One or two of the women were pushing at it, moving it a little closer. I set my grandmother down in it. My arms were on the verge of giving out. I was saying, or maybe it was someone else saying it, to call somebody. Some women were talking into cell phones and I think one of them pulled something high on the wall to the right. The place became increasingly crowded with people, some of them already in the restroom and some coming in from the outside. Some men were also included in the group now.

Then Rick Bauer, a doctor from the TV soap opera Guiding Light, came in, and was checking my grandmother with his stethoscope, and talking. He was saying that she was going to be alright, that they needed to get some oxygen in here for her and she would be alright, though I was under the impression that he was still going to take her to the hospital. Some short men, apparently Latinos, came in with a white two-tiered cart full of what were apparently medical supplies, though I wasn't sure if they had any oxygen with them. It looked like it was still going to have to be called for, and Rick was already talking into his cell phone.

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