story: sister's college drop-off

Sunday, March 3, 2002

What I’d like to tell is a story about the nightmare I had the day before we dropped Eileen off at Stony Brook College. The dream was rather vivid, which is rare and is why I still remember it to this day.

It was the night before we were going to drop off Eileen at College. As I remember it, I dreamed that after we got to her school, I, for whatever dream-reason there was, went into a large Harvard-esque room, where my mother left me to begin college. I was still in High School at the time. Looking back, I’m not sure why it scared me so much. I think the fear can be generalized in other nightmares I’ve had. For example, while I joke about it now, I do think at one time I had a fear of department stores. I was afraid of becoming lost in one of them, unable to find the pathways that lead back to the main part of the mall, and being lost between the clothes forever. That’s actually stranger than my sister’s college drop-off nightmare. Maybe I’ll write the story with that in mind.

Imagine having to live with the constant fear that you can never stray too far away from the familiar; that to do so will result in you getting lost and never finding your way back to where ever you previously were. Let’s follow that thought for a bit. But first let me get some food…

I’ve had a little more food and now on with the story:

sister's college drop-off

Bill sat facing the back of the station wagon as it pulled into the Kings Plaza parking garage. He took a deep breath and let the smells of freshly pumped gasoline and exhausts wafting through the lowered back window fill his lungs. The echoing of screeching cars and the dull yellow lights made this by far the best part of the trip. His mother turned the car again and again and went up ramp after ramp as Bill watched the cars behind them creep forward. He idly banged his two Star Wars figures together, but his thoughts were not on the plastic battles. Instead, he concentrated on sliding back and forth across the vinyl bench as his mother circled upward through the garage. Every so often he could see a car shrieking to a stop on the down-ramp as it saw the station wagon exiting the up-ramp. Bill listened to the low drone of the engine and felt the sewn seams passing under his jeans.

Finally, on level four, section A, his mother pulled the nose of the red station wagon into a spot vacated recently. He watched as the back window creaked upward shutting out the sounds of the cars. Bill listened to the engine die down and the jingling of his mother’s keychain as she opened the driver’s door. He climbed over the back seat and opened the back passenger’s door, letting the black clothed Luke Skywalker and the Emperor he had gotten for free at McDonalds fall on top of the mound of toys cluttering the backseat.

Bill’s mother held out her hand and Bill allowed her to grab onto his wrist. She pulled him forward as he watched a car drive across the roadway that separated the parking area from the entrance to the mall. The walls were painted red and two doors covered with metal sheets stood in front of them. His mother pushed open the one marked “Enter” and pulled Bill into the mall. Once through the door, Bill was greeted by the smell of greasy hamburgers, the low buzz of conversation, and a stiff warm breeze. As his mother led him deeper into the mall, Bill looked longingly at the video arcade that was next to the Roy Rogers. Without comment his mother kept walking, pulling Bill behind her.

As they rounded a corner, the red “Macy’s” sign came into view. Bill sighed loudly as they approached the department store. At the entrance to the store, the brown etched floor abruptly changed into the white, anti-bacterial floor of the deparmtnet store. The smell of perfume and cologne

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