Part Two of Two: Shaving While Driving in the Dark

I do not recall a night like last night when my thoughts were so insistent on refusing to let me sleep. I did all the tricks I could think of, to no avail. No matter the approach, my mind flooded with worry, apprehension, and other unpleasant emotions. I was in bed before midnight and I fell asleep rather quickly, but I awoke soon thereafter and spent quite a bit of time in between fitful sleep and worried wakefulness. Around 3:30, I got up for a few minutes, then went back to bed to try to sleep. I suppose I slept, but it was restless and uneasy. Finally, sometime after 4:45, I drifted off. Between that time and 7:05 when I got up, I spent time in restless sleep and in an odd dream. I awoke at 7:05 from the dream; I made notes of it right away so I would etch it into my brain.

My wife sat next to me as I eased the car out of a dark, rain-drenched parking lot onto a multi-lane highway. Before we entered the roadway, though, I lathered my face and neck with shaving cream and began to shave, using my right hand to hold the razor. My left hand was on the wheel.

The night was pitch black and the few lights I could see were distorted by glare and heavy rain. I could not see the road well enough to drive, but I continued driving nonetheless. I set the razor down on the seat next to me and searched the dashboard and the turn signal stalk, looking for a switch to turn on the headlights. All I accomplished was to turn off the dash lights. When I turned them back on, I saw that the speedometer indicated I was traveling at 50 miles per hour, far too fast for the conditions, especially since I could not see the roadway nor any guiding stripes. Somehow, though, we managed to come upon a gas station and convenience store. I got out of the car and walked around front; it seemed, initially, that the lights might have been on, but I discovered the beams of light were just reflections. I went back into the car and began searching for the fuse box, assuming a fuse must have blown. I decided I should go inside the store before I pulled out a fuse, just to make sure the store carried fuses.

I walked across the parking lot, my face and neck still almost fully covered in shaving cream, holding my razor in my right hand. When I entered the store, I saw a stack of napkins near the counter and tried to reach around someone to get some napkins; I wanted to wipe my face clean. Before I could get my hands on a napkin, though, two police officers—highway patrol, I think—came in the door I had entered. They were drenched from the rain. They looked at me; instantly, I was gripped with fear, thinking they were going to assume I must be drunk because I was inside a convenience store, carrying a razor and covered in shaving cream. They did not seem to be phased, though, as they headed toward the restrooms. That’s when I woke up.

The entire dream, from the moment I pulled the car onto the highway until I woke up, I was terrified. I am not sure why were were driving in the rain, in the dark; I have no idea why I would have lathered my face in shaving cream and started to shave while driving in the dark. My beard is notoriously slow-growing and thin; I’m sure a shave could have waited a day or two. I was unfamiliar with the car. I think I had forgotten to turn on the lights before we started out on the highway. I don’t know. I was just afraid and my gut was twisted in a knot. My wife had very little to say during the dream; the only thing I remember was hearing her say “I think they are on,” referring to the lights that I then learned was an optical illusion, thanks to a reflection.

Even though I remembered quite a lot from the dream, I am certain some of it has dissolved into the mist. Would that I could record dreams in their entirety, then play them back. Or, perhaps, maybe I would not like that at all.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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