Everything Takes Forever

This is from a couple of years ago.  I've had other dreams along similar lines occasionally, but I remembered enough about this one to write it down.

I leave the house early one morning to go swimming at an indoor pool at a recreation center.  Some children are there.  I find an action figure in the water (a gray guy with transparent insect wings) and ask my son if it's ours.  He says it's someone else’s.  After swimming, I’m alone again, and my friend Doug shows up.  We try to find out where a chess event is happening that evening.  It’s at another city recreation venue.  There’s a stack of magazines by the information desk, but the page with the event listing has been torn out of all of the current issues.  The woman at the desk is talking on a headset and can’t help us.  It’s too late for me to go home to catch the bus, so Doug offers to give me a ride.  In his car, I discover that it’s later than I thought and that I’m going to be late for work.  I see a clock on a large gray building, and my cell phone is a toddler's clunky yellow plastic toy phone.  The phone and the clock have different times, but they’re both after I need to be at work.  We stop at an office where my wife works.  We kneel in a doorway to a small room with some of the other people who work there for a group picture.  I’m getting aggravated because I’m late for work.  I need to put on some shoes, and I rummage among some boxes of my old shoes that are near an exit.  I have trouble finding a match, but I find something eventually.  Frustrated, I decide that Doug’s the same jerk he always was, and I’ll make my own way to work.  He tries to make it up to me by offering to teach me “initiative.”  I throw a few playful punches at him and head off alone. 

Fortunately, it turns out that I’m right by Eden Park, and my office is a short way across the park.  I climb a hill to get there.  At some point earlier, I’d gotten a forgiving voice mail message from my wife.  She had apparently left an angry message before that one that I didn’t hear, probably because I never came home to help with the kids after I went swimming.  I have a regular phone now.  On the way up the hill, I check my messages again and get a message from a remote acquaintance telling me about how she voted.  It’s not clear that the message is meant for me. 

I go into the building through a seldom-used basement-level door and climb a staircase to the lobby level.  The lobby is large and has glass walls, so there’s a lot of natural light that would ordinarily create a pleasant vibe.  It’s busy with people coming to work, and there are some shops and tables around the lobby with new age supplies for sale.  Things take a really bad turn when I suddenly don’t have my pants (but I have managed to get an apron to put on for partial modesty).   I ask someone passing by if he knows where I can get some pants for free, since I don’t have money now, and get a rude response.  A yoga class has just gotten out and the lobby is very crowded.  I try to approach a table, but someone shouts “No cutting!” and I give up.  There’s a growing sense that I’m out of place there.  I think about how I’m going to have to talk to my boss to explain why I’m late, but not having pants would make that impossible.  It’s the first day I’m going back to work after a one- or two-week holiday break.  Since I’m dreading being back at work anyway because I feel very isolated there, I decide to call in sick when I’m back at a phone. 

I go out the front exit and sit on the front steps to count my change and see if I have enough to catch the bus.  The steps are broad, thin pieces of dark shale.  A merchant from a shop in the lobby beside where I’m sitting comes out into the lobby shouting at me, to the effect that I need to either buy something or leave.  I can’t actually hear him because he’s inside the doors.  I get up and take my bearings from outside the building so I can figure out which way the road with the bus stop is.   I see part of the river, with the sun shining beautifully on it, and know which way I need to go.  A university building is near my work building, and some students are outside throwing paper airplanes of various sizes and styles with a bank logo on them, possibly as a protest action.  A student asks me if I’ve had anything to eat, which I haven’t, and says he could give me some pizza that he has inside.  I think that maybe he thinks I’m a vagrant and I should explain that I have a job and a house, but the dream is over.

The End

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