The Mark Blog

U-TURN

Last Sunday I had my Mid-Project Review, and that same night, someone stole my car. I had just left a party to drive home, but the car was not where I’d parked it. I scanned the block. No car. Trying not to panic, I noticed two guys nearby hanging out in their yard, and asked if they’d seen a blue Subaru parked there. They had, but also recalled two guys getting in it and driving off.

Shit! I screamed. Not only was my car stolen, but I’d also left the only hard copy of my manuscript in it, all my notes, and my phone. One of the guys in the yard let me borrow his to call 911.

Before it even rang, a voice said, Hi.

Hello?

Hi, the man repeated.

For a moment, I thought I had accidentally picked up a call.

Is this 911?

Yeah.

He sounded hesitant.

Are you sure?

He was entirely too casual for a 911 operator, and yet when I checked the phone, I had indeed dialed correctly.

I explained to him the situation, and he told me they were backed up, but eventually, the police would show. After waiting around for a bit, I decided to return to the party I’d left several blocks away. In attendance were many friends, old and new, many who didn’t even live in LA, including a woman who I had rekindled something with. Everyone was pretty lit by this point, and finding out my car and my book were stolen had definitely sobered me up. I tried telling people, but they were so wasted, they couldn’t even seem to drum up a lot of sympathy. Oh, that sucks, went the common response.

I figured, if I can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and proceeded to get pretty hammered myself. A hour past, maybe two, I lost track, and had almost forgotten the whole car situation when suddenly it all came back. I needed to get back before the police showed up, if they hadn’t already.

I stepped out on the porch and felt a profound sense of disorientation. Where had I parked? I knew it was on some side street, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember. I went back into the party, asking if someone would give me a ride, but everyone had an excuse, they were too wasted, they needed time to sober up, they didn’t drive, even the woman I liked––no one would do it.

Fuck all of you! I screamed. You’re not my friends! I took off, enraged. My tirade had some effect, and as I set out into the streets a small group came out to the porch to watch me go. To give the scene extra dramatic flair, I tore off my shirt, threw it down, and took off running.

I ran block after block, but only got more and more lost. Nothing was familiar, and soon I wasn’t even sure if I was still in the same neighborhood. Exhausted, I finally stopped to catch my breath, lay down on the sidewalk, panting.

A car pulled up, and a woman rolled down the window. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her. Are you okay? she asked.

No, I said. I’m lost.

Maybe I can help?

We started driving around, but it was much darker now, and nothing looked familiar. I was ready to give up. What does your car look like? the woman asked me.

It looks kind of… like this, I said, realizing that we were in fact in my car.

I felt a great sense of relief, and joy, and didn’t even question how this woman came to take possession of it. I looked out the window and realized where we were. Turn around, I told her.

She tried to pull a U-turn, but it was a narrow road hugging a hillside, beside a steep cliff. Backing up too far, the wheels spun in the dirt dangerously close to the edge. Watch out! I cried, and she jerked the car forward as far as it could go, but we still didn’t have enough room to make the turn.

Don’t back up so far this time, I warned her. But she did it again, and again the wheels slipped, and spun, not catching. I felt the car slowly sliding backwards, closer and closer to the long drop.

That’s when I woke up.

Yes, I’m breaking the golden rule about never ending a story by saying it was all a dream. But this was an actual dream (with some slight embellishment) I had after my Mid-Project Review last Sunday. I’m still processing both the dream and the review, but I feel like the symbolism is almost transparent, and metaphorically speaks volumes about how I’m feeling now, afraid I’ve lost my way, still needing help, but discovering that in the end, only I can find my way out. The dream revolved around the same metaphor our instructor Antoine once used, a car meandering close to the ditch. The car could be my book, or my life, or probably both, dangling on the edge between the certainty of death, the cliff, and the uncertainty of life, the unknown road ahead. Between the two, I’ll take the road.