Anxiety Says What?

Anxiety dreams are born with us; they grow and evolve with us and take on many different shades. What scared us then doesn’t scare us now, and vice versa. Sometimes it’s not so much fear as it is general preoccupation, some deep-seeded nagging thing we’ve shoved to the bottom of our mental priority list for so long that its found a back door through our subconscious.

This month ten years ago, the two dreams duking it out over King of the Brain were the Evacuation Dream, and the Vermont Dream. In the Evacuation Dream, I was for some reason (fire, mafia, pitchfork-bearing mob) forced to leave my apartment/bedroom and had to immediately decide what was most important in my life and how I was going to carry it. (The only item that made the cut every time was my teddy bear, Charlie.) I had most of these directly before and after I moved from South Carolina to Tennessee…it’s not hard to figure out what sparked those.

The Vermont Dream had been haunting me for rather longer — in it, I was always trying to get to Burlington. Sometimes I was already in Burlington and trying to get to Nectar’s (my godfather’s restaurant) and couldn’t get there. Sometimes I even got there, but never saw Nectar. Whatever the goal, it was always unfulfilled, and it was always Vermont.

I was born in South Burlington, lived at 700 Spear Street for six amazing years, and I will always consider Vermont my Home. When I was a kid, we’d go back to visit ever summer. As an adult, I had gone to Morrisville to help my sister and brother open the Bijou 4 in the summer of 1994…and then didn’t return for almost six years. When I did, I stopped having the dreams.

Last night was a variation on the Vermont Dream…of sorts. It’s only been a couple of years now since I’ve visited but I still miss it–a few weeks ago Cherie sent me a postcard of all the leaves in full autumn color. I pinned it to the middle of my bulletin board over the phone so I could see it every morning when I woke up.

So last night I was on my way to weekend in Vermont. I arrived at the airport because I knew I had a flight leaving and wanted to check the time. (As I was walking to the counter I heard Nick Mamatas in my head chiding me for not just calling first, but I really do prefer doing things in person.) And good thing I did — my flight was scheduled to leave at 11am, connecting through Kensington (both one of my publishers and a district inLondon; the former made more sense for a connecting flight to Burlington). It was just after 10am, and our plane had twelve planes taking off in front of it. I was right on time.

Only…I didn’t have any luggage. That’s right: no bag, no clothes, no toiletries, just the shirt on my back and the keys to my car. No cell phone either, which actually bothered me more than the lack of clothes. In fact, the lack of luggage didn’t bother me at all. I could just buy a few things when I got there. And really, Cherie had the internet on her home computer — I could drop a quick email to my friends mentioning my lack of phone, and Cherie’s contact information.

A plane was disembarking at the time, and who should get off but my lovely, award-winning friend Mary Robinette Kowal (who runs into everyone while traveling). Though for some reason she had chosen to use a thick layer of pearlescent white makeup on her face that morning, making her already fair skin look lifeless and dead. She remembered that I was going to Vermont, and sat with me while I told her my ridiculous story. I imagine she’s used to the Crazy Antics of Lee by now…and so am I.

That’s the point, wasn’t it? Sure, I missed my phone and felt silly about having no clothes, but in the grand scheme of things it really didn’t matter. Life threw insanity at me — dream-level insanity — and I didn’t scoff. I didn’t worry. I was a little annoyed, sure, but it made a great story. And, most importantly, I was still catching that plane to Vermont.

I love that "the usual" in my life is dream-level insanity. I love that I revel in the ridiculous for the completely selfish opportunity of turning it into a story. I love that no matter how out-of-reach I happen to be, I will always find my friends with me. Most of all, I love that a dream which should have been a nightmare only left me feeling better about myself in the morning. I do not scare; I adapt, and steal.

Well, okay. Mary’s dead-face makeup did scare me quite a bit.
But I’m sure I can use that in a story some day too.