Friday, April 28, 2006

Dreams of Home

I know I haven’t written for some time. I promise I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. I’ve just been touring Egypt literally from the southern end of the country to the northern end with my mother and brother and Teri’s father and brother. We went from Abu Simbel to Alexandria. Quite a trip! I’ll write about it in the coming days, but first I want to share a dream I had on April 9th. I immediately got up and wrote about it so this is a fresh account of it.

=========================

This afternoon Sarah had a group of her students over to watch a movie. I was in my bedroom taking a nap, but I could hear their muffled voices and the movie that they were watching on the other side of the wall. In no time their voices became intertwined with my dream.

I dreamed that I left my room and began speaking to one of Sarah’s students. He was male, teenage and Caucasian like me, not Egyptian like I imagined he would be. We began talking and he told me that he had to leave before the movie was over. I left Dawson Hall with him and we took the elevator down to the bottom floor. The elevator ride was longer than I remembered and when we left the building I found out why. Someone had decided to add floors to Dawson Hall, but instead of building them on top of the existing structure, they had jacked up the building and were building underneath it. There were already ten new floors that were distinguishable from the old floors because they were brick and mortar. The old floors at the top of the building were finished and painted.

The student and I got in his car, which was a black sports car. Instead of driving through the busy streets of Cairo, we were driving at night on an isolated country road that seemed more like Florida. The landscape was flat, but filled with the silhouettes of palm trees that were lit by our headlights. Occasionally we would pass strip malls that were brightly lit beacons in the midst of the inky darkness.

For some reason the student’s car kept running out of gas. He would crank the car, drive a few feet, and then it would stall out. He did this several times before I hopped into the driver seat and told him I would get us to a gas station. I cranked up the car and began to drive around. I didn’t have the same problem he had with the car continually running out of gas.

We stopped at a shopping center and entered a grocery store that looked very much like a sparkling, clean Kroger. We didn’t walk in the front door, but came in through a side door that led through the deli. A woman dressed in a black burka passed in front of me and I unintentionally rolled my shopping cart over the trailing end of her robes. The wheels left greasy gray tracks on the fabric. I remember cringing and thinking, “Oops.”

I walked to the front of the store where there were people dressed in costumes of different Star Wars characters. I asked two teenage girls wearing Boba Fett costumes, sans helmets, where I could find copies of Star Wars on DVD. They said they didn’t know. I turned away to look for the movie.

I walked to the far end of the store and then circled around to the back where I saw a TV playing a video of a girl driving a go-cart or some sort of buggy through a muddy lawn on an overcast day. The quality of the video was that of a home movie. The person taking the video asked the girl in a hillbilly drawl, “What’s that on your shirt?” She looked down and saw a housefly crawling on her sleeve, except the housefly was about six inches long. It moved erratically, in such a way that it was disturbing to me. The girl recoiled and tried to brush the fly off of her.

When I woke from my dream and left my apartment, I discovered that Sarah’s students were all teenage girls from Sudan. Not a single male, Caucasian or Egyptian.

I think there is a lot going on in this dream. I’ve tried to interpret it as best I can. I think most of it deals with aspects of home that I miss, even in some silly ways. I start off in Egypt, here at Dawson Hall and descend a long elevator. The ride is longer than I thought, perhaps a metaphor for my year in Egypt. I quickly switched to the American equivalent of the Egyptian countryside… Florida. Even the person that I go to Florida with looks like me. There aren’t many Caucasian, teenage males on the streets of Cairo. Usually I stick out like a sore thumb here in Egypt, which can be unnerving at times, but with a Caucasian I could have some sort of anonymity I don’t normally have here. I think my dream was providing some sort of comfort in that respect. I experienced something I haven’t done in several months. I got to drive. The car didn’t function properly while the teenage was driving, but once I was behind the wheel everything was fine. You could go as far to say that this might be a control issue. Every day I ride in taxis over which I have no real control.

I think the next aspect of my dream is obvious. I miss going to a clean market where the produce is free of swarming flies. Kroger supplied that for me. Sadly, deep down I miss buying things. I think consumerism is a big part of our lives as Americans and I miss that. I’m not proud to admit that. I am reminded of a satirical Bare Naked Ladies song entitled Shopping that says, “Everything will always be alright when we go shopping.”

Then something really interesting happened. The first person I encountered in Kroger was a woman covered from head to toe in a black burka. This mimicked a real-life occurrence while I was home for my grandmother’s funeral in February. I visited a WalMart to pick up some items before the return trip to Cairo and I walked by a family that was obviously Muslim because the woman was veiled in a black veil with only her face showing. I was incredibly surprised to see them in my suburban Atlanta neighborhood. I remember that I almost said good evening to them in Arabic, but I hesitated and then my chance was gone.

In my dream I rolled over the woman’s robes with my shopping cart, and while it was accidental, I can see some symbolism in it. While the action is totally disrespectful and I would never do it intentionally in real-life, I think my subconscious mind was experiencing an “enough of this” moment. The woman in the burka was but a symbol of my experience here in Egypt, which has been very difficult as of late. I symbolically steamrolled Egypt.

The people in Star Wars costumes were a funny surprise. Several years ago I attended a sci-fi convention in Atlanta and was thinking of attending it again this year just after I return to Atlanta. The last time I attended the convention I was amazed at the creativity of the people who made costumes. I suppose my recent thought about attending the convention made its way randomly into my dream.

The last part where I watched a girl riding a go-cart and the appearance of a gigantic fly on television is really strange. I can only guess that it came from our recent viewing of the movie “The Ring,” which recently played on Egyptian television. The overcast day, the little girl and the housefly is all imagery from that movie. The housefly gave me the same creepy feeling that the movie did.

Dreams are weird.

-Jason

1 comment:

Gramps said...

Yes, dreams are weird, and so are you! Love ya man!!

-Aaron