It’s going to sound dumb. Really dumb. And you’re not going to believe me. And on top of not believing me, you’re going to think I’m a fool. Maybe, at present, you hold me in high regard - maybe you think I’m intelligent and capable and not prone to fall victim to fantasies. Maybe you think I’m cool. Maybe you think I have wisdom beyond my years. Or hey, maybe you don’t think any of these things. Whatever. It’s just that I want to warn you that your opinion of me might drop down a notch after reading what I’m about to say, and that I think that’s a damn shame because what I’m about to say is so true that even I can’t believe it.
Here it is: I had a vision today. It happened while I was taking a nap this afternoon before work, and it was the most vivid thing I have ever experienced in my life. I was dragging through that halfway stage between waking life and the sleepworld when it happened, and I know what you’re thinking. You’ll say “That’s not a vision, that’s a dream.” And to that I respond, “I know the fucking difference.”
This morning I woke up at the same time I always do, got dressed, and went to grab a quick bite to eat with my boss to let him know my plans for the summer. I recently decided that I need to get out of South Jersey if I ever want to be happy in the near future, so I was letting him know that despite the absurd amount of money I’d be getting paid for working another summer at the water park, I won’t be coming back. It wasn’t a fun lunch, and after inhaling my pancakes and several cups of coffee, I started to feel tired. My head was heavy. I thought I was maybe getting sick.
We paid. I left. I came home and got into bed.
Regardless of how tired I was, I couldn’t turn myself off enough to go to sleep, so I lay in bed rolling back and forth, daydreaming about my new life plans and making out with celebrities and saying the alphabet backwards as fast as possible and whatever else it is I do when I try to fall to sleep. The next thing I know I’m in this fucking vision.
It’s me, as myself, on the ground helping a small, thin, balding man. He has a broken foot and I’m mending it, wrapping it a billion times over with Ace bandages. We’re talking about random things, the kind of talk that extras in the background of a cafe scene in a movie have - the kind where they are mouthing the word “watermelon” over and over and over while acting very expressively, so it makes it seem like they are having a conversation when they aren’t actually talking about anything at all.
We’re having this fake conversation and all of a sudden there is a jolt. I’m holding his foot and this man, he looks me dead in the eyes and he says, “Being depressed is like having a broken foot, Vick. It hurts a lot at first, but it dulls, and that’s even worse. It becomes a gradual pain, the kind you learn to live with. You limp around with it, and though every day you learn to live with the pain more and more, you’re not actually getting any better. You’re only learning to walk with a bum foot.”
I stop wrapping his foot and his eyes are glaring into mine. They’re staring the kind of stare that makes you uncomfortable deep in your abdomen, and the pause between what he’s just said and what he’s about to say becomes a heaving mass hanging in the air. My stomach feels full of stones.
Still staring me in the eyes, reclined on his forearms with his foot in my hands, he cuts the thick silence.
“Things are going to start getting better for you now,” he says, and he smiles. And I see that his teeth, all of the teeth in his mouth, they are all black.
I don’t know what the symbolism is behind the black teeth, the balding man, and the broken foot (though obviously the foot thing was some analogy for depression), but I do know that whatever happened to me this afternoon was a real thing. It wasn’t a dream and it’s not something I could make up. This guy visited me from somewhere, and he had this brief but important thing to say to me, and he said it and he stared into my eyes the entire time, and I woke up or came to in a sweat because this experience was such a fucking … I don’t know, a message or something, and I had visceral reactions to it. And I know it sounds crazy and I know I now seem like one of those nutjobs that sees Jesus sculpted into a Cheeto, but I swear to you, this was real. If I could find some way to smash you into my body and turn back the clocks so you could feel and see the entire thing happen, I would. But I can’t.
You’ll just have to take my word for it, and my word is that something has shifted. The black fog that’s been engulfing my life for the past year has now begun to trail in my wake, seeping out into a light gray mist that I can more easily wade through. I know it sounds stupid, this whole having a vision thing, and I promise, I am not the kind of person who places blind trust in the intangible, but still.
I think things are going to start getting better for me now.