Working Through

I dreamed this morning of being a prisoner whose term had come to an end.

I was escorted to the entrance, handed my things, told to change back into the clothing they handed me, musty with stale smoke and sweat and years of storage in plastic bags. The few hundred dollars cash that had been in my wallet was still there. They let me use the phone, since my out-of-date and expired cellphone's battery was dead as a doornail, and they wanted me out of there.

My brother didn't answer my call.

The taxi service dropped me off at the storage units where I'd told my brother to put what little stuff I'd left in the shitty apartment I'd had before I'd done time. I didn't know if he'd actually done what I asked as he'd never said that he had. He hadn't much talked to me the whole time I was in. But the key let me into the security gate around the storage units.

I went to my unit, put in the key, and it turned. The door opened, and there was all my stuff. The relief nearly floored me. My brother had paid the rent like I'd asked. In front was my construction work boots, tool belt, nail gun, hard hat, and electric screw driver and batteries. All neatly arranged the way I always did after work. The clothing bureau was to one side, as was the half-full hamper and a dump of boxes from the damned apartment. I changed right in the unit, something I'd done many times, and stuffed the prison clothing with its memories of one night of rage that had blown away four years, into the hamper. I opened the bureau, tossed the dustiest stuff on top into the hamper, and put the next layer on, clean cloth against my skin, and put another change of clothing into my day bag that lay on top of the bureau.

I knew how being homeless worked. The stuff that I needed locked up and safe was in here, everything I took with me would be at risk. I left the work equipment in here, until I found a lead on a union job, it would be safer here, no matter where I stayed. The shelters were the worst for losing stuff, but cheap hotels were no better.

But I had all the things I'd accumulated from Before, and I was ready to face the world outside again.

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Are you going through or facing any major transitions in your life right now? It sounds like a transition dream to me (but what do I know?......)
That's the first thing I thought of, too.

Some things really stand out:

  • the transition from confinement and constriction to freedom;

  • the sense of insecurity about that newfound liberty;

  • the sense of loneliness at being stranded at the prison and unable to contact the brother, possibly because he does not want to be contacted ... so a loss of relationship as the consequence for having been convicted;

  • the relief at finding one's possessions intact (so many people who feel they've lost everything are unable to release any objects afterward, no matter how useless they are to their current situation);

  • the relief that it was the brother who became a steadfast custodian of these personal items, even if he didn't respond to the call for transport away from the prison;

  • that clear and precise account of every single item.

  • the conviction that next state was a homeless one.

Lots to mull over.

Yes, lots and lots and it's been baffling and confounding me all day. I feel like I've been turned inside-out and upside down and shaken a little and nothing's fallen back in quite its old spot.

I think, emotionally, it may well equate to how I feel, now about my writing, of all things. *laughs* We'll see how it turns out.

And all the most precise things were the construction equipment. Building things. I think I need to create again, and am uncertain about it? Unsure, insecure is pretty clear....

And, yeah, no home, definitely no home and nothing's quite safe, but this one locked treasure box of all the tools from Before.
If it has left you shaken, then it is significant, although for some, it takes years for the significance to become clear.

Sometimes significance comes through in the details which lie under the surface. It's obvious to point to things like the release, which comes at the end of paying one's debt, or that you had no access to your tools while you were serving this time, so you were unable to build or construct anew, unable to utilize your skills, unable even to renovate.

The implements through which you create were also placed on hiatus. So your tools and skills are returned to you at the very moment when you have no means of doing anything with them: no materials, no land, no people willing to contract work to you, the stigma of being 'criminal' (if not in a close and personal sense, perhaps in a broader cultural sense? Have you thrown off any ties to tradition lately?)

And while you had no need to earn your living while you served time, now it becomes imperative, or you risk danger in being exposed to the elements.

Does it seem to you that this is a dream about an existential dilemma?
I have to first say thank you for digging so tenaciously at this, as it's giving me the opportunity to think and expound and process. If I disagree, it's solely in order for me to clarify and even, sometimes, find my own feelings about this? Nothing to do with anything you 'should' have or even, in some cases, could have known, and I'm very very grateful for you taking the chance to question me.

It's interesting because my emotional take on the risk and exposure wasn't quite the fear that regular people have. It was actually familiar, almost comforting to know where I stood and to have the freedom to risk what other people would never think to risk or want to risk. The homelessness was not just familiar but oddly comforting. I knew the ways to walk, not so much to keep myself safe, but to keep myself if that has any meaning to you. There are homeless people who are that way by choice and character, who find the binding and restrictions of having to maintain and be responsible for a place to be too much or something they simply don't want. They're very few, and they usually have no or few family ties, but they do exist.

I think the cornerstone of the emotional background was that I'd thrown myself away for a while, but I was coming back into being who and what I really wanted to be, and that included being able to determine what jobs I was going to take from now on. Saying it that way I now know how to tie it to my real life and the four years is significant that way. Interesting. Nothing like the safe brother who didn't even dare risk coming to get me from prison, but could safely pay the bills.

I often kick and throw off the ties of tradition and control. I am criminal in the eyes of the more judgemental, and there's a lot I've done that lots of people could condemn me for. It's just a part of who and what I've always been, and I carry that within me, perhaps more to the surface now as I'm getting more aware of myself.

But doing my time really does have some aspect of a guilt I've finally released, I think. And the only one holding me to it was myself.

Existential Dilemma is a good way of putting it. I don't really know what I'm *for*, and being free of work for quite some time, it's impossible to define myself by what I do anymore, and I'm coming to grips with that, especially since I do so much and for so many and in so many ways, now that I don't have one thing that I Am or any one thing that is my life's work. It's just my life that is the Work, I guess? That all of my art, my writing, my fiber work, my being a mother, my special need and take on violence, and my spiritual life are all... works that I have to be responsible for doing as I would do it, not as someone else might.

I do love what you point out, especially about the work... that I now HAVE to work. Thank you for that, and that imperative is very real, though the goal's less monetary than... well, the importance of just doing the work.

Edited at 2014-05-23 07:15 pm (UTC)
Cheers! And kudos to your subconscious mind for communicating in such strong, clear symbols. It sounds like you've gotten some very strong intuitive feedback about ... well, I'm not sure what it's about since it's clearly personal, but it is a lot less of a Mad Hatter's teapot than some of these Wonderland experiences can be. I think dreams are a wonderful means of self-examination, and learning to read them can provide some wonderful insights into things that our rational mind tends to overlook.

ETA: I hear you about the skew-y sense of criminality from judgmental people. Sometimes, I find it difficult not to react contrarily in an automatic fashion — out of a sense of needing to oppose and obstruct them. In fact, most times, I find this tendency so difficult, I shut down discussion.

Edited at 2014-05-23 08:50 pm (UTC)
I often find my dreams have emotional content I'm just not facing in real life. *laughs*

And amen to your ETA... yes, I know that.
This is kinda a sidenote, but your part about judgmental people reminded me of this old saying:

In our 20’s, we worry about what people think of us.
In our 40’s, we don't care what people think.
In our 60’s, we realize they haven’t been thinking of us at all.

Which reminds me of the end of "Catch Me If You Can," where Tom Hanks character points out to Frank that simply "nobody's chasing you." I figure after a certain age, we've either come to terms with the contradictions or we've changed as much as we're going to as far as trying to reconcile them...which is also why I find myself reminding myself a lot that people just get set in their ways as they get older, including seeing it in myself, and that's the way it is.
Yes. *grins*

I love how you put it, too.

I think we get more comfortable with who we are the more we know, or do what we can to fix the things we really want to and then get on with it. I think that not only do people get more fixed in their ways, but that with experience, they deal with things with less angst and self-consciousness. I've been pretty firmly of the opinion that no one's really looking for a while now, so it's fun to see it reflected so clearly in what you're saying.
I don't think I am? I dunno...

I quit writing with old partner more than a year ago. I've been moderator of the church for five months. I've been painting for five years. I've been doing house construction since last September. I've done the 911 stuff for a year. There's nothing *new* right now. Though I'm struggling to end Twin Souls, and I'm trying to get back into the writing thing and painting more now.

I'm doing The Artist's Way, and it might be breaking things open.

It's good for someone to ask.
*laughs* Okay. Definitely a transition thing that I'd completely forgotten about!

Jet's last day of school for the summer was on the day I had this dream, too! He's home now, and it's really good.
Heeee! So HE'S really the one getting out of prison and starting a much more constructive and pleasant routine, yes? And I'll bet he's every bit as strong-minded and confident as you were in the dream.

That really struck me in the dream, how logical and determined you were to just shake it all off and move on into your new life - not everyone can do that, even with lesser obstacles than those considerable ones you had in the dream. But I'd be willing to bet, based on what little I've been fortunate enough to learn about you thus far, that that's very much your nature. Not the going to prison part (!), but you seem like a get-it-done type who lets very little slow you down or keep you from doing whatever you decide is the right thing to be done.
*laughs* That must be it.

We just lay around in the loft and played with the piano for a while today... that was really good. And he's definitely happy to be off for a while. And, yes, he is pretty much as strong-minded and confident as the dream-me.

Wow. Thank you, for the latter. Yeah. I am kind of tired of some of my emotional states getting in the way of what I really do want to do and share. So. There. *grins*
If it makes you feel any better, between my emotional states, and the fact that I'm pretty much a physical wreck on any given day (which of course aggravates the emotional states, or at least doesn't help) I'm freaking amazed that I ever get ANYTHING at all done. And I don't, much. Which is depressing in and of itself. How's that for a vicious cycle? *headdesk*
Poor you. Sorry about the full cycle of that.

But, yeah. I am grateful for when I do get anything done. I've actually been writing down, for the last three or four weeks, every thing I actually do so I don't get quite so depressed or angry about what I don't do.
Interesting. Very detailed. Reminds me of the idea that dreamspace is shared & sometimes we cross wires with other people.

You get smells in your dreams!? That's the one thing I don't get... no matter how vivid it is, how physically painful (I've had dreams where I've woken up swallowing a scream of pain for a sensation that was no longer there), I never smell anything... (I am now thinking about the other senses - sights, sounds, sensations are all yes, but taste? I'm frequently *trying* to eat something & I keep getting interrupted.)

Yes, I get smells in my dreams. Blood, sweat, stale alcohol, smoke... in this one. Another one had slaughterhouse and old blood through it. Another was clear clean ocean air. Another mountain pine.

I taste things, too. I remember one that had ten courses of the most astonishing meal I'd never eaten. *laughs* Including a spun sugar and meringue swan on a pool of raspberry puree and dark chocolate sauce... and a lamb chop so tender it melted in the mouth.

Yeah, wire-crossing. I was definitely male in the dream, solid, a little slow, but core good with minor breaks of bad. I had the 'knowledge' that "my" mother had died of cancer and that that medical situation had drained everything but the cash I had on me and she died anyway, and that was the core of the rage that cut loose in the bar that night I'd gotten arrested. The still-rich brother was someone I hated, and he'd come to the funeral, but had mostly stayed out of the financial whirlpool that had been our mother's death.

Damn, for all I know it might be the beginning of a book or someone just 'stepping up' in my head to be written.
Your character sounds a bit like an urban Genjyo Sanzo- or cross between him and Gojyo. Or maybe I've just read too much AU Saiyuki fanfic..... >_>

And I have all five senses in my dreams as well, quite vividly. I'll remember sense memories - voices, smells, tastes - in dreams that I've neither experienced nor thought of for 30-40 years. I also talk in my sleep, cry in my sleep, and physically feel what my body is experiencing in my nightmares, including one memorable one where I was shot in the chest. (Not fun.) And I've had frequent nightmares since I was a small child. Three different sleep studies have told me I have extremely odd sleep patterns - I get almost none (really, like zero) of the deepest stage of sleep, but I'm dreaming before I'm even fully asleep - I can be dreaming and be aware of what's going on around me. I always knew I was an odd duck - I guess this explains at least some of it.

Edited at 2014-05-24 02:40 am (UTC)
Hee. Sanzo. I do like Sanzo. Even more now that I'm reading all of a four book Journey to the West translation. Sanzo is far more cool and entirely capable and worldly than Tripitika, which may be as it ought to be given his companions. *grins* Actually, reading the original Journey to the West really gives me some interesting ideas for Saiyuki fanfic. *laughs*

Wow... interesting about the sleep study!! And that's amazing about being able to dream and be aware at the same time. I expect your sleep patterns do affect the waking you, too.

I am known to talk in my sleep, too, but I'm grateful that my poor body doesn't always experience my dreams.
OMG don't tease me.... Do you know how happy it would make me to have new Saiyuki fanfiction by you? That would make my year!

I've been wanting to read JTTW forever - I've had one version or another on my Amazon wish list since 2008! Which one are you reading, which translation? I just need to bite the bullet and buy one, darn it.
The Anthony C. Yu one, it's really good, the annotations and the poetry are fabulous. *laughs* It's huge, though, and I'm reading it aloud to the son, who is enjoying it immensely.

I was thinking more like Gogyo, with the whole brother complex. *laughs* And I can't, for the life of me, see Sanzo being a construction worker. But I'm probably not going to use this guy for a fanfic. He's... we'll see. I do like the idea of doing and sharing more fic sooner rather than later.
I think everyone else has covered the analysis/discussion thoroughly already, just wanted to say thanks for sharing. Nice writing.
whew... wow.

Thank you. That... actually speaks to the heart of it from an entirely different angle.