David Rhoden

I had possibly the most intense dream of my life.

. Day .

I know there's no way to write down what really happens in dreams, and even if I could I don't know who would read them. I'm gonna do it anyway.

In this dream I was with a bunch of my friends who went to NYU. The first part of the dream was mostly very nice, outside of the discomfort I felt (more on that shortly). My friends (Melanie, B.J., and others) and two of my cousins took me to an arts center on Long Island, I think, where all kinds of creative people were busy collaborating and making beautiful and interesting things. There was an older white-haired man working on some kind of complex fiber-based craft that required a raised round work surface. But most of the people were young, and most of them were women, with lots of tattoos and piercings. They were animating, drawing, painting, mostly talking; everything.

There were old psychedelic LP jackets stapled to the walls (not one was a "real" record, my mind invented these; in Heaven I will play them for you) with a number written on a small label on each. You could scan or type in these numbers on your phone to play that record on the sound system.

I loved this place, but my mouth hurt. I went to a mirror in the bathroom to look, and it turned out my cousins had pierced my gums in four places, with cheap dangly costume jewelry earrings. Two on top, two on the bottom. I was bleeding a lot from this unfunny prank that must have happened in my sleep, but I tried to handle it. I found paper towels and removed the bloody earrings from my gums and folded them up in the paper and hid them in a big trash can full of art refuse, much of which was watercolor paper scraps I would have hung on to. I didn't see my cousins again in this dream.

The remaining bunch of us went then to New York City, maybe by subway, and came out in the south part of Manhattan, a dream Chinatown. As soon as we came above ground we knew something was wrong. In the sky to the north, above midtown and the Empire State Building, there were seven terrifying crafts, high in the sky.

They were floating quietly, arranged in a mainly symmetrical vertical pattern of 2-3-2. Each one was like a gray-black cylinder, enormous, the size of a Goodyear blimp, maybe even bigger, but with flat ends, not pointed, and they flew vertically, the opposite way from a blimp. They were bigger than blimps, they were bigger than the Empire State Building. They had no apparent means of propulsion. They seemed to let light through, as if they were made of some very light fabric. We couldn't see evidence of life in them; at the same time they might have each concealed thousands of people, or warlike creatures with weapons. They were making announcements we couldn't really understand or even hear, but it was clear they controlled the world now, and we didn't.

We had little time to think about these things. The streets were packed with people, all speculating on what these things were and where they came from. They didn't seem Russian, but they didn't seem too alien either. Many people said it was just for a movie. Others were afraid but most had no practical action to take to fix that fear, so they went about what they were doing, as did we.

Giant clouds of gray smoke leaked and rose ominously from the cylinders. It was clear to me that the crafts were here to control us or harm us. There were announcements of all kinds, from everywhere, in many languages, and I ducked into a Korean restaurant.

The restaurant was crowded, barely room to move between the tables. I looked for a seat. I had lost my friends, and I knew they were waiting for me. But I couldn't believe the food in this place. Some things looked very plain: one lady looked like she was eating sauceless noodles from a plastic bowl, like spaghetti-sized strips of white clay, garnished with parsley. But other dishes amazed me: one person had ordered a noodle dish festooned with soft piles of shiny, bright green bubbles, like caviar, or thriving algae, perhaps. These were decorated with small metal signs, pi-shaped signposts with golden tassels on the ends, on which hung square metal plates with Asian characters on them. I've never seen such beautiful food. But it was so crowded and the world was ending, so I didn't order. I returned to the streets of Lower Manhattan to look for my friends.

This was perhaps the most intense, and maybe meaningful dream of my entire life. I have always had vivid dreams I could remember (and some I wanted badly to return to, forever) but this one stood out. I woke up amazed that my mind could devise this story; it was so detailed and full of things that don't exist, that I made up. None of this silly stuff exists, except that I thought it, and now, it does exist. Our brains are so much more powerful than the parts of them that we control.

I've been withdrawing from drugs, specifically SSRI drugs, that made my dreams exciting and emotional on a nightly basis. The dreams were amazing, but too much for me. I couldn't sleep until about 4 or 5 in the morning, and I would stay in bed almost till noon dreaming these dreams and recovering from them. I don't have time to sleep and dream this much, and that's too bad. Of all the strange side effects of SSRIs, vivid dreams was my favorite, though a close second was the feeling that I was not in myself but outside my self, listening to myself talk whenever I talked. That one was also sometimes fun, sometimes unpleasant, but always interesting.

The SSRIs do not work for me, if I stayed on them my life would collapse because I wouldn't be able to make a living. I am not sorry to have tried them, they showed me a side or sides of myself I didn't know about, but in the end they killed my ability to cope with the real world I have to live in.