I think I must have reached a state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. I woke this morning a little after 6AM, in searing pain in every part of my body, my brain a ball of cotton wool--and from the worst nightmare I can ever remember having.
Nodding off in front of the television set before 8PM, I was in bed by 8:30 and put the light out at 8:37 (strange, how differently we note the time, now that we have digital clocks with big-number read-outs!) Asleep almost at once, I slept without a break until 4:10AM, when I woke for a quick bathroom stop. Back in bed, I had a hard time getting back to sleep at first. I had already had about seven and a half hours, pretty much my norm, and my mind was traveling back over the years with images of Flora.
Then I must have fallen back to sleep, because I woke as I described above. The nightmare? The detail was too intense and too diverse to remember--or to want to remember--very much of it. But I was lost. Ellie was doing some re-landscaping, it seemed, was absorbed in it, and had gone off to the plant store with an advisor of some kind. We had stopped somewhere along the way for a huge lunch, and for some reason were driving separate cars. Thinking to meet up with her in a little while, I drove further, parking my own car at what I thought to be the southern end of La Brea--which it obviously wasn't--leaving myself what thought, again, to be a reasonable distance to walk off that lunch.
I started walking, and soon realized that the distance was immense. "La Brea" was also not the straight shot I had imagined it to be, but broke off into huge, carnival-like malls with a complex, confusing architecture of shops, stairwells, restaurants and side streets. I can't begin to describe the shifting, strangely colorful environment, not the gradual process of getting more and more lost, of feeling more and more disconnected from the world around me. I seemed I had started smoking cigarettes again, too, after thirty years, but had left my pack in the car; so I thought to buy myself a new one and smoke a cigarette, but the tobacco store was filled with shelves of odd glass devices, and strange people who mocked my old habits and my ridiculous request.
By this time, I decided I must call Ellie on the phone to have her come and pick me up and drive me to my car, but the light was not good, and my fingers fumbled uselessly with the tiny numbers. At one moment, I seemed to have made a connection. I thought to hear the sound of her voice, distantly, engaged in another conversation. I tried shouting, without success, to intervene. I tried yelling SOS, as though that would get her attention. Nothing. Then I wandered into a restaurant, asked one of the wait staff for help, and was soundly mocked by him as a lost old man--before he stole my cell phone.
Exhausted and disoriented by this time, I kept walking, through a bleak cityscape of narrow, curving streets whose end I could not see and whose direction I was unable to make out. I asked constantly for help, for the loan of a cell phone, for help in dialing numbers that I could not see, for which my fingers were too clumsy--but to no avail. "La Brea" was now a distant memory. I was completely lost. Finally, on a rocky shore line, with the city behind me, I found someone to lend me a cell phone, but without the help I needed to dial the number. I kept on misdialing...
And woke. Feeling that I now knew at first hand what it must be like to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. And aching in every muscle, every limb, every joint. And with a throbbing head. I had a hard time even getting out of bed. Staggered to the bathroom for a pee. Juggled with some sweat pants and took George out for his pee and poop walk, found the whole world hazy. Gave George his breakfast. Checked in on Ellie in the bedroom and found her still asleep. Thought about trying a short meditation, to clear the head. And sat down instead with a yellow pad and a ball point pen to write this story. I still find myself in a cloud of grief.