When I Die in my Dreams, I Never Wake Up
I’m murdered from time to time in my dreams,
by a stranger in an all night laundromat,
I’m folding clothes in the flickering light
when I notice him casually walking in
through the only door out. There is something
between us, a familiarity in
the way he stares as I feed the machines
quarters and clothes, that makes me afraid when I
realize there are no windows in this room,
and we are stuck like that for a long time, both
knowing what we intend to do, but not
I used to jog through the streets of Manhattan every morning before dawn. I passed by the eternal flame as I jogged through Battery Park. I would wander past the massive statues that surround the Native American Museum and circle back around to watch the sunrise over the Statue of Liberty.
There’s something about the quietude of the crepuscular hours , when the sky is a deep crystalline blue and the moon is fading to a pale pearl husk up there through the trees or above the glittering buildings. Its so intoxicating, that despite the danger of it, I can’t resist my solitude.
The last day I was in New York I was coming home from my girlfriend’s house in Brooklyn. It was 3:30 in the morning and I was worn out because we’d been making love all night. I was the only one of the subway crossing over to Manhattan. I liked being on the train at that time of day, watching my own reflection in the subway windows. There was of course, always the momentary thrill of each stop, when the doors would open, wondering if a man was going to walk in…if he would be dangerous or mad.
I was walking through the turnstile to exit out into downtown Manhattan as a lone man was coming down the stairs off the streets. There was nothing between us but the stretch of stinking concrete and piss. It was like something out of Irreversible. As he passed through the turnstile he reached out and grabbed my tit. He grabbed me so hard it brought the strap of my dress down.
And I just kept walking.
It’s weird how life does that to you.
A few months later in California, I was jogging and was accosted by a man with a knife. He chased me for a long time, even as I ran from door to door when everyone is still sleeping, pounding on windows and screaming for help. It felt like being stranded in the midst of a black sea with nothing but a void full of monsters beneath me.
It was a kid who finally opened the door for me. His mother was too startled to know what to do.
It wasn’t the first time something like that had happened. A few years before that, a guy had tried to drag me off the bike trial into the bushes to do God knows what. He was brazen too, because it was the middle of the day and the path was full of people trying to enjoy the temperate weather of an autumn afternoon. Him I fought, kicking and punching and spitting. The cops laughed uncomfortably when they took the report. They told me what I’d done was dangerous, that he could have really hurt me.
Still I go running every morning.
It’s not that these things don’t terrify me. They do. It’s just, I’m not willing to change my habits. I don’t want to feel that I’m at war or something, that I’ve got to hide from the enemy… I often imagine that when I do die, it will probably be at the hands of some lunatic with a grudge against women in a dark parking lot or something.
I walk in the dark anyway.