Had a dream last night triggered by over-tiredness and hot covers. I was working in a crawlspace with my wife, a cramped space in the dirt lit by a single work lamp. Further under the building were old forgotten corners, things built and abandoned. I desperately wanted to get out, burst into the night air and escape this dreary place but my wife wanted to finish the job, do it right. This crawlspace, accessed on all fours, had the powerful sensation of being a place under the living world. Above us somewhere was a house, a place of light and warmth and most importantly, life.
When I woke, sometime in the three o’clock desperation hours, I realized the location of my dream: the nether world. I’d been in a place between life and death, a fetid and forgotten dim realm that no one wishes to occupy yet there is work to be done there. In my dream I don’t know if we were burying someone or simply making the transition ourselves but we weren’t in the world of the living any more.
This is the realm of Charon, boatman of the River Styx, and possibly one of the realms of Dante’s Inferno. Maybe it was Purgatory and maybe it was the shadowy fringe of death, but I felt that place long after I woke, the cold lifeless soil, the heartbreaking adjacency to the land of life separated by a thin but unbreakable membrane. Maybe this is what it’s like to be a ghost—so near yet so far—with your own work to be done before you can finally leave the station. Our dreams are the curlicues of the creative mind, fancies created for our own amusement. This time around my brain created a place I never want to visit again.