I’ve been having a lot of dreams that involve Michael lately. Sometimes it’s casual: we bump into each other, say hi/bye, and go about our business. Sometimes it’s bizarre in a typical so there I was, fighting a fire-breathing dragon, and Michael runs up to me and kicks me in the shins dream way. Others are negative: we bump into each other and he starts accusing me of ruining him or being a bitch. One was downright unnerving: we bumped into each other, but I had the dumpling with me, and Michael laid into him for his muddled lineage and told him what an awful person I am.
I’ve always had vivid dreams. I can usually remember them too. Sometimes I can tie the vividness to something (Sudafed is often the culprit, but watching crime shows can be another). In this case, I think the trigger is a billboard.
You see, there’s a billboard that’s currently up all over DFW. Along my route to work. When I went to pick up pho last night. Near my exercise facility. It seriously seems to follow me. It’s an ad for an ambulance chasing lawyer, which is exactly what he does/is (pretty much). It features the lawyer in a suit and a cowboy hat and the guy looks startlingly like Michael. Like, I have to do double- and triple- takes just to make sure that it really isn’t him. And since I feel like I see him everywhere now, he’s been on my brain lately. And in my dreams, though I wish that would stop. I can’t wait for the billboards to come down.
Humans are weird. Our brains are hardwired to seek out patterns. We look for the familiar, we try to predict based on the past, we try to make sense out of the random. It also means that we see things from our past, things we might not want to. That’s what makes me laugh (in an uncomfortable sort of way) over the concept of “trigger warnings.” It can be such a personal thing. I mean, sure, talking about rape may bring up painful memories for a rape survivor and you might feel obligated to place a trigger warning on the discussion, but there are so many other triggers, far more painful triggers, that would need to be cautioned if what we’re going for is to truly limit someone’s pain. I can discuss emotional abuse without really linking it to myself but don’t you dare try to offer me a particular flavor of Extra gum. I can manner-of-factly tell you my story and why I stayed and why I left, but this song (especially the movie version) from Tangled makes me so uncomfortable I can hardly listen to it. The word “fluffy” is, just now – seven full years and this adorable character later – starting to lose it’s negative connotations. You see, it always meant my midsection.
Time softens the blow, as it has a tendency to do, but some memories refuse to be buried by the sands. There are things, reminders, that I wish I could forget, a la Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. A specific joke, for instance. He always told it to me at a specific, intimate moment and it jumps into my head at random moments with Luffy. I would pay good money to never think about that joke again, to never have it pop into my head. I live in fear that I’ll accidentally say it one day, though I’m not sure why. Luffy knows my past; he’d understand, I’m sure. But the simple fact that the joke still swirls around in my head is proof of the fact that the owner of the joke is still in there too. I can’t imagine my reaction if I actually heard someone else say that joke now, especially since it’s – ahem – sexual. I can tell you one thing for sure, it would absolutely kill any sort of mood they were trying to create. I’d also probably either run from the room or slap them, but who’s to say.
I don’t really have a nice, neat bow for all this. I’m hoping, as I did once before, to purge my mind of the intrusive thoughts. I hope those billboards come down soon.