I had this nightmare the other night, and I’ve had to make a very strong cup of coffee indeed.
It basically boiled down to being on a crowded train (pretty ordinary at the best of times), wearing a nightie. This could have been an acceptable scenario, given today’s dress code, had the nightie been of the satin variety, or even the starched and spotless genre – but naturally it was not. It was the one I’d gone to bed in, which happened to have birdpoo on it, as well as cruddy dried blobs of Patented Babybird Handfeeding Porridge. In addition, I had no shoes, knickers, handbag – and worst of all, my hair was not brushed.
The cruelty of nightmares is mindboggling. The only thing I did have (apart from the parrot-crap encrusted nightie which was supposed to be hidden under the privacy of my own bedsheets), was a peculiar red woolly scarf thing around my neck. I’d never seen it before in my life and hadn’t the faintest clue what it had to do with anything. I spent a few kilometres wondering whether I could fashion it into a sort of loincloth, but it seemed a bit of an exhibitionist thing to stand up and do.
Anyway, it was the messy hair bit which was really upsetting. You don’t feel right if you’re not well groomed. With nice hair, you can sit there confidently in your nightie on any old train, even the city commuter – and snub your nose at the world, basically. People will look at you and think you have nice hair. If you haven’t, you leave yourself wide open for them to notice all the other anomalies, which in this case were legion.
After a couple of hours sitting on the train, with various subplots (too complicated to be bothered going into) unfolding around me, I eventually realised (because in nightmares these things take a bit longer), I had better get off at the next station and attempt to return to whence I’d started – which was not going to be a doddle without money, or identification even.
The last thing I remember was standing in front of the ticket office trying to explain I needed to go back the way I’d come. The ticket man in the nightmare was just like ticket men everywhere, which was reassuring. He stared at me blankly because he evidently had no command of English and kept saying ‘Bosnia’. At that point, I woke up.
I’ve never been more ecstatic to be in my own bed, I can tell you. I groped around for the red woolly scarf thingie, but it hadn’t crossed the barrier between the phantom train station and the doona.
I woke the Hunter-Gatherer. I said, ‘How could you abandon me on a train without any knickers?’ He was understandably baffled, and pretty annoyed I’d shamed the family by being seen at a railway station in the birdpoo nightie.
The thing is, what does it all mean? There is a fair chance it indicates I was running away from something without being properly prepared. The train meant I didn’t have the ability to drive that far, and the incoherent ticket man meant it’s hard to get good help these days.
What’s scary is, I don’t particularly want to go to sleep tonight in case there’s more to come. I keep wondering if I wear trousers and a jumper to bed, will I be better covered – and will a wallet and hairbrush tucked under the pillow make any difference? How can your subconscious betray you, when you’ve purposely decided not to be a drug addict or alcoholic so you can keep control of all your faculties? What good are your faculties anyway, when you’re not even awake enough to use them?
Anyway, I’m going to sit up all night, fully dressed. I don’t much like the thought of Episode 2 – Barefoot Escape to Bosnia. It has the potential to be worse than Episode 1 – Knickerless in a Non-Smoking Compartment.
If I do drop off though, this time I’m hanging on to that red scarf thing. It was cheerful and soft – and rather appealed.