I dreamt I was in my house with my contractor, Jason. He wanted to give a presentation about popping the top and adding a second floor, something I’ve been looking at IRL but gave up on because of the cost … almost 300K to add 600 square feet. He and I invited about twenty people for some reason and, as dreams do, the house was mine yet quite different, it was huge, to begin with. We all congregated in the attic space which is not large in my real home but was cavernous in the dream.
It was so large that nothing would need to be added to make a huge space up there, it would just have to be finished out, but the main issue was the floor, it was very flimsy and I could see through the cracks in the floorboard to the main floor. The boards creaked when people walked on them and I was vigilant in monitoring everyone’s step, making sure they placed their feet carefully so they wouldn’t fall through the ceiling.
There was already one room up there, an office of sorts. The floor beneath it was solid and it was actually quite large. It opened to the unfinished space and I wondered if I could simply put a wall up and call that my space. I noticed that there were extremely narrow passages all around that one could slip through, including one that felt like a “penance” space to me. I could sidle my way through it with the walls touching my front and back, and there was a small opening at face height that looked into what felt like a religious space.
Right in front of my face was a contraption made of turned pieces of wood, sticks in a starburst formation, that would move and spin close to one’s eyes, lending a feeling of menace. It reminded me of the crazy penance room at the Odd Fellows hall.
Lauren was with me and she pooh-poohed my idea to add the second floor. “This space is too big, it will suck the warmth right out of you. It will be cold and drafty.” She didn’t even like the idea of using the office up there.
I went back into the space where there were people. Scott, who I dated before my sweetheart, was there. I haven’t had any contact with him in over a year but there he was, with a carton of ice cream. He had gained weight and looked different to me, not at all attractive. It made me realize that all I had with him was physical attraction; there was nothing else about him that I actually liked. But he came over to me in a flirtatious way and I did that thing some women do when they are uncomfortable, I giggled and and tried to find a way to get away without hurting his feelings which is actually opposite of how I eventually got him to leave me alone. He finally left.
I noticed that lots of people were showing up at my house, they were streaming in. A woman was there, someone who I knew in my dreamscape but not real life. She said she invited a few people over and hoped that was okay, but it wasn’t. They filled up the space and it was packed tightly. Sheila, the woman who stayed in my house when I was away and threw up all over my couch but didn’t clean it up or apologize, was there holding a mason jar.
“Would someone give me a cup of avocado?” she asked to whoever was near her. She had to squeeze through the crowd, holding her jar up.
I made my way to the first floor and the woman who invited everyone was there. She saw me and said loudly, “I have an announcement and I need volunteer! Vivienne! Would you be my volunteer?”
I looked her in the eye and said, “No. You are here uninvited and I didn’t agree to you having people over. Why would I participate in whatever you are doing?” and I walked off. She looked shocked and offended, I didn’t care. I couldn’t wait to find Nina to tell her how well I stood up for myself, and how horrible Scott looked. She was coming up the road so I snagged her to go for a walk and dish about all that had just happened.
I was standing on her shoulders at one point and the path was so steep that I was afraid to jump down, but she helped me. We went back to my house and I decided I needed to make the woman leave. She was sitting at a card table and people were lined up to speak with her. An old man was standing in front of her, writing out a check. He handed it to her and she was playing something in a foreign language on a very old fashioned cassette player. I could tell it she was scamming people. I think this is Trump anxiety as the Georgia runoffs are today and I heard some of his speech at a rally on TV, and his conversation with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State was just leaked.
Everyone in line was holding a check, waiting for an audience with her. I wasn’t going to wait, I butted in front of the line and confronted her about what she was doing and demanded she leave, which she refused to do. I turned away and now there was an indoor pool, but it felt more like a lagoon, swampy and dark.
A friendly and smallish Godzilla-like monster was in the water, he spoke to me in a non-threatening way as he swam around. The walls of the room were made of an ancient plaster, the ceiling extremely high, like a cathedral, with a circular stained glass window near the top. I wasn’t scared. He said, “I am friendly to those who are good but …” and he grew huge in size and towered over me.
“But to those who are evil …” and he singled out the woman and flew through the air at her, shrieking in a terrifying way.
And then I woke up.
What is going on with me? Well, Marcia died on New Year’s Day. I am relieved that her ordeal is over, that she is no longer suffering, but I am also coming to terms with the fact that she is gone. I find her pictures on my phone and they make me well up. I have a voicemail from her in October that I listen to, I miss her. I am just sitting with the loss.
I also answered an ad on Nextdoor for a dog walker. I went to the woman’s apartment, not far from me on Walnut, and entered into a scene of such despair. She is disabled and seeking all kinds of treatment. She has hypomobility syndrome and suffers from chronic pain.
She lives in Section 8 housing in a small one-bedroom apartment. To be honest, it’s probably larger than my tiny house, but it is packed with things. It is likely the entirety of her who world. She is lonely and isolated and has an obese chihuahua who needs walks. She is clearly on disability and I wondered how she would be able to pay for a dog walker.
She mentioned she had someone else helping her out but that person was going back to work and couldn’t do it anymore, but she was going to “keep her on” for later walks. I took her dog for a walk and returned her, the woman didn’t offer me money and I didn’t ask, but she rolled out an entire list of needs for rides, overnight stays for her dog, etc.
As I was in the hall finding my way out of the building, I heard a man crying for help. I followed his voice and saw him sitting on an office type chair with wheels. He wore sweatpants and nothing else. The wheels of his chair were stuck because the entry rug was crumpled up underneath them.
This is not a dream.
He was very distressed. “Can you help me? Please press 18 behind me.” There was nothing press behind him, just a dingy and even smaller apartment. I didn’t want to step into it. I was wearing a mask but it was also a strange man’s space. He was clearly mentally ill, his speech sounding panicked and nonsensical at times. I wanted to get out of there but how could I leave this poor soul without trying to help?
“I can’t get through the door because of the rug.”
I moved the filthy rug for him and set it aside.
“Thank you. Now can you take me to the elevator and press the button, I need to see my friend.”
I managed to get the chair over the threshold and into the hall. It had rails on it and he pulled himself along as I pushed. It was really hard since he was quite large, shirtless, and there was for me to grasp. He labored loudly and he tried to “walk” along with his sock-clad feet that I could tell hadn’t supported his weight in a very long time.
“This would work better with a wheelchair, how about I move you to one? I saw one in your apartment,” I suggested.
“This is a wheelchair,” he snapped.
I got him to the elevator, it was a struggle to get the small plastic wheels over the threshold. He would cry out in pain if his foot caught on anything. Once I had him in I realized he wanted me to ride with him in the tiny space, all kinds of alarms were going off in my head.
“Press number 18.”
I looked at the buttons and it only went to five. Of course.
“There is no 18th floor, I’m so sorry.” And I reversed our course and slowly push/pulled him to his apartment, got him back inside, and left before he could call me back.
He needed help. The woman needs help. I can’t help them, not the way they need. I don’t want to help them, which I am ashamed of. This kind of abject despair, it reminds me of my youth. Those dingy halls, small apartments, things stacked in cheap plastic containers, the cooking smells in the hall. I know that life. I escaped it.
The woman called me yesterday to drive her and her dog to a chiropractic appointment, and asked me to wait while they were adjusted. I brought up compensation and as I suspected, there was none. I suggested she put another ad on Nextdoor, but this time be clear that she is on disability and needs free help. I know there are people who have offered help of that kind during this time, it just isn’t me.
I answered another ad on Nextdoor, an elderly woman looking for some domestic help. Perfect. I actually enjoy doing meal prep, errands and tidying up around the house. And it turned out that I gave her Silkies once, I really liked her when I met her years ago, and the pay is good. I did a Zoom interview with her and she latched onto my “go-get-em” abilities and threw out me managing international real estate deals, approaching people about selling their homes (cold-calling), and “impossible” (her words) projects like getting her the vaccine faster. It seems she was quite the go-getter herself but now in her 70s? 80s? but now she needs help. She still wants to build her empire but needs someone who can do it for her. I’m tired of building lives for others.
My heart sunk. I don’t want to be used that way. I want to make food, organize homes, take care of people in the way I know how to best. I left my job because it was too high stress and this sounds like that all over again. I know that kind of woman. I thought I wanted to be that kind of woman and maybe I am. But I don’t want to work for that kind of woman again. I want a peaceful life and simple work where I am appreciated. I don’t want to tackle impossible tasks anymore, not for someone else.
So I have to tell her that today.
And finally, Lauren wants me to drive to Grand Junction to pick up an antique end table that Marcia left me. She is handling the distribution of Marcia’s personal items before she goes home. It’s been such a long haul for her, I immediately said yes because I want to make her life easier. But after I hung up the dread set in. Four hours of winter driving so I can turn around and drive home the next day. I’ve driven to Grand Junction six times in as many months. I did so gladly to see Marcia. And while I’d love to see Lauren, I would rather see her somewhere else. And I’d rather not put more miles on my old car than I need to and enter another space of despair.
I need to gather the courage to call her today and tell her I don’t want to do it and ask if she can drop the piece off at a pack and ship. It can’t cost more than $150 to ship and it would be worth it to me because I’m done. I have my house for four whole days before it is rented for two weeks and I don’t want to sacrifice any of that time, not in my house, not with my kids.
Right now I want to lose myself in simple work, cooking for my children, sleeping next to my sweetheart, and waking up to the sun.