By John Jericiau
I often have this same recurring dream. I just woke up from it in fact. I’m in my Honda Odyssey. It’s been parked outside a party or some kind of get together. The event has ended and I’m in the driver’s seat about to start it. The road that I’m parked on is extremely steep, and I’m parked facing uphill. There is snow on the ground and all my windows are foggy from the cold except for the front windshield. I have black gloves on.
I proceed to turn the key to start the engine, and nothing happens. The engine doesn’t turn over. However, I do begin to roll backward. Ever so slowly at first, but I quickly pick up speed. Nothing I do to prevent this from happening works. I can’t turn off the car. I can’t shift gears. The other partygoers that are meandering back to their cars start to scream. I feel large objects as my Odyssey drives over them.
My rationale mind takes over and I decide that I have to do something. My speed is increasing and I don’t want to crash someone’s dinner on the way down the hill. Blindly I cut the steering wheel one direction as hard as I can, and the behemoth I was trying to control raises its left front and left rear wheels. I softly (never with a bang) land and slide for a bit on the entire right side of the vehicle, until I come to a gradual stop. No crash, no explosion. I’m not hurt. Partygoers come running and I fearfully ask if I hurt anyone. Not a soul. It’s only then that I remember that I had a baby sleeping in the car seat behind my seat. I whip my head around to see that he is still sleeping soundly.
I’m not sure why this is floating around in my head. Some say that dreams are a reflection of our best hopes and worst worries. I shouldn’t be worried about snow. I live in Southern California (although I’m originally from New York.) It’s fairly flat in our beach community, although we spend a fair amount of time in the mountains surrounding us. Plus, in all my years I’ve never seen a car accident happen, let alone be in one (and I have probably jinxed – double jinxed – that streak.)
I have had some problems with my Honda. Now and then it would fail to start, much like in my dream, and I would have to find a jump. I recently had a new battery installed, covered by the warranty. And there was the time in the first month I had the Honda, where I felt that there was a delay from the time I pressed on the gas until the time where I started moving forward, and I rolled backwards in my driveway a few feet until the wall of my house stopped me. I’ve kept that boo boo covered for 1 ½ years with an Obama supporter magnet, but after many times finding it thrown on the ground by people passing by my parking spot at a store, it recently disappeared completely.
I’m surprised that I don’t have nightmares about my greatest fear: child abduction. I’ve stopped watching ‘Nancy Grace’ or ‘America’s Most Wanted’ long ago because of the head games those shows would play on me. I imagine that because of all the haters out there (and now that Fred Phelps has died there is at least one less) who will stop at nothing to extinguish my happiness, they will try to hit me right where it hurts. Not my wallet, but my heart. And as any parent knows, steal my kid and game over. I know it’s crazy to think that someone would take a child just because of whom their parent loves, but I’ve lived through 9/11, and I’ve read about the murders in Russia, so I’ve got to keep my guard up.
So as I’m sitting in my house listening to the boys play in the backyard, and there comes a lull in the noise, I find myself running back to check on them, or yelling back there “Everybody okay?” or I ask them to sing that song from ‘Frozen’ yet one more time.
As I’m driving I’m constantly studying my surroundings, inventing scenarios and the solutions to escape them. If that oncoming bus suddenly veered into my lane, what would I do? If that mild mannered Pit Bull on the ground ahead of us suddenly charged out at my boys, which foot would I use to kick it and knock it out? Or if someone in a nondescript van snatched one of my boys who was lagging a half a block back while we were walking down the street, would I chase it or call for help? The police would take about 5 minutes to get to my house; Uber about 3.
It’s tiring being so vigilant, always having to be on your toes. But the alternative is frightening, horrific, and maddening. So I will stay prepared, and maybe someday I will wake up from the nightmare called hate.