The deaf sometimes get disorientated. It has something to do with balance and vertigo. For example they can wake up in the middle of the night for a natural reason, and in the darkness they can't find the door. They grope around in the bedroom trying to recognise things by feel in the hope of getting their bearings, but all in vain. When the dear person you've wakened with all the noise you've made by blundering about, finally puts a light on, you're surprised to find that you are in front of the cupboard, with your back to the door you were intent on finding, and that the image of your reflection on the cupboard's full size door mirror reveals your abysmal, hopeless and ridiculous state.
It thus stands to reason that 'getting lost experiences' for such people, amount to nightmares. Deaf dreamers are the worst sufferers. They are the ones who can't find their cars in the multi-storied, multi-galleried car-parks. Believing they know where the right metro is, they are capable of walking miles in the wrong direction in New York City. Or, after managing to return by metro, confident they know how to get back to the apartment where they are the privileged guests, they get wretchedly lost and are obliged to walk the long blocks of Harlem on a tiresome 'gradual elimination of all possibilities' basis.
It was when, many years ago, I was despairingly lost in the then newly laid-out suburbs of Amsterdam that I had a serious car accident. I had just imported my immaculate, black, vintage 1953 Standard Eight from England. It was about three thirty in the morning after a modest drinking spree with friends, and apparently a vehicle came at projectile speed from the right and wrote off my poor car and very nearly poor me in the ruthless process. To add insult to injury, when after several weeks the ziekenhuis finally discharged me, I had to go to court where, all in Dutch, I was judged, found guilty and heavily fined for not having given the maniac priority, even though I must have been crawling along at a snail's pace, trying to figure out where in hell I was.
Such a brutal, unexpected experience would tend to increase the nightmarish horror of getting lost. Consequently, when I have nightmares they more often that not plunge me into a variety of hopeless and miserable situations of utter disorientation.
To relate the most recent one as an example. It began in a very large, old house that in fact I know very well. So well that over several years of another chapter of my life, I did a great deal of work there contributing with love and dedication to keep the house from falling to wrack and ruin. I imagine that I also left a good deal of myself there in the process.
However, in my dream the house was in a terrible state. There were torrents of ghastly clods of bubbling yellowy grey muck or clay pouring down a front stair-case that in reality never existed. I half-heartedly tried to disengage where the turdish mire was accumulating at the foot of these lofty stairs, but this was ineffective because the house was slowly sinking backwards like the Titanic. The repulsive liquid mud or whatever, wasn't flowing away anywhere at all, it was constantly rising.
The owner of the house and former consort had her back to me as she too stood in the quagmire. She was in front of a large, old white sink situated half in the open and half inside, busy doing something as though she was oblivious to what was happening or not particularly bothered about it. I made a black-humoured remark which she quite rightly ignored, and then I left.
I had a strange little dog on a lead with me. It irritated me. It was a bit like a red squirrel, small, thin and scraggy. The sort of timid, brainless animal that inspires no affection. It must have been 'ours' however, because in spite of my lack of fondness for it, there was unfortunately no question of abandoning it. But from then on I was lost. It could have been Amsterdam. At one time I found myself in endless galleries of carpeted clothes stores gazing ahead, walking fast, desperately trying to find the way out. Eventually I even succeeded. The exit was an old, dilapidated, metal spiral staircase leading down. It had once been painted a horrible faded yellow, like that of an old ship (the Titanic)?. There were now other people who seemed to be almost as lost and as doomed as I was.
We were all going down the spiral stairway looking for a way out, with me dragging along the poor squirrel dog, whipping it round the spiral of the stairs as if it were an embarrassing ugly rag doll on a string. I was very worried because my companion and I had been invited by friends for lunch and it was already very late. I knew she would have wanted to contact me, but I didn't even have my mobile phone with me. Suddenly we came to a part of the spiral stairs where it had rusted away and disintegrated. Below was the dark, infinite abyss of nothingness, so we had to go back up again. At a certain turn where there was a glimmer of daylight, one could see what looked like an exterior car park. There was a covered ladder and bicycle blocking a space above, one of the many oblong sea-vessel type of openings with rounded corners of the staircase. The opening was big enough to squeeze through to get to the car park. A woman pushed the obstacle away to free the space, and I assume we all got out.
Perhaps one wouldn't need to be an expert to analyse some aspects of this dream. There are clues. For example assuming that- 'I also left a good deal of myself there in the process'. In view of the sinking of the old house, a good deal of me would thus be sinking with it. Also irrevocably lost.
One might include the factor of being deracinated, also irremediable. And could there not be some onomatopoeic correlation between the evocation of the Titanic and tinnitus? The whispering galleries, or jumbo jet galleries of the mind. Interminable, relentless, brain-sound that haunts you whether you are asleep, awake, or perhaps even dead! And the dog: a tiresome, embarrassing but unavoidable duty. A lightweight ball and chain.
But then again it could all be a load of mentally regurgitated rubbish caused by the previous evening's gluttony, in which case I would already be proving myself to be disloyal in trying to give priority to quality, etc.
Whatever, one can always hide behind 'artistic licence'. In this case, fully liberated once more, I can go to sleep tonight with a smile before getting hopelessly lost in yet another dream.
Text and image (watercolour, modified) © Mirino, December, 2013