I got that song stuck in my head today.
When my husband left for work at about 3 o'clock I decided to take a nap. I had to work this morning, and we only got about 6 hours of sleep, so I curled up in bed with the dog and planned on sleeping for about an hour. It took me a while to fall asleep--it always does. I was thinking (and hemming and hawing) about the train ride I have to take next week to southern Illinois to see my best friend. I'm a little stressed about it, a little excited, but I do have to travel alone. The point is, I couldn't quiet my mind. I tossed and turned frequently and slept for brief periods, and when I rolled over to see the clock's green number saying '4:12' I was still exhausted. So I went back to sleep. I didn't wake up again until after 6.
Somewhere during that extra two hours I didn't plan, I had a nerve-wracking dream. I was on a big boat, probably a ferry. All of the passengers were familiar, people from various points in my life, fellow students from college and old women I used to work with. I was wearing a brand new pair of Converse Chuck Taylor's, and a green sweater which I wore during my last trip on a train. It became clear to me that somehow I was responsible for the happiness of every passenger, and yet none of them were speaking to me. I was also distinctly aware of the lack of my husband's presence. Even my dog is on the ferry, but not my husband. I was traveling alone on a ferry with practically every person I'd ever known and suddenly.... the boat started to rock.
The interesting thing here is that the ferryboat was not in the ocean (I'm from the west coast, so yes, I will automatically think ferries belong on the ocean) or a lake or a river. In fact, we were in a lake. It was small, about the size a baseball field. Physics would likely tell you a ferryboat can't fit in a baseball field, but this is my dream, gosh darn it!
So we're in this itty-bitty lake and the ferryboat is rocking and it's almost like a giant hand has started swishing the boat from one shore to the other. I started running back and forth around the edge of the ferry, being chased by my dog, trying to get people's attention, all the while distracted by how uncomfortable my brand new shoes are. I started to hyperventilate, and then that thing happened--you know, when you're dreaming and you want to scream, and no sound comes out? It was like that.
I woke up not long after that, and my throat was all dry and my body was rushing with adrenaline. My dog was also essentially sleeping on my face. I waited, settled down, and then "For Reasons Unknown" popped into my head.
You know, the first lines of that song are "I packed my case, I checked my face." I didn't realize it until today but the song really is about travel, or about change. In my head, when I'm listening to the song, I see a man staring at his reflection in the mirror and noticing that he looks older, that he's a different person. He has traveled years, if not physical distances, and recognizes that his heart doesn't beat the same way, even. He doesn't see the person he used to be.
This trip I'm taking is a big deal. I've been focusing a lot on the clothes I want to bring and the books I'll try to read while I'm there, and all the fun I'll have with my best friend, whom I haven't seen in over a year. But this song has reminded me that there are other forces at work here, other notions of importance that I could be mulling over.
I am a much different person now--when I compare myself to the last time I traveled, to the last time I saw my best friend, to the last time I went on adventure alone. It was 4 years ago the last time I got on a train, in that green sweater, and I rode all the way back to Washington. I wasn't married, or graduated, or really all that sure of myself. And yet, I had the confidence to ride the train alone. I hugged a drunk man and gave trail mix to a hippie who sang me songs. I read the manuscript for my friend Danny's novel. I watched every sunrise, every sunset. It was three intrepid days of sitting and thinking and growing.
This trip I'm taking on Wednesday is only about 6 six hours. So I'm not sure why I'm this stressed and out of balance. I guess the reasons are unknown. I guess I'll just have to pay attention.