So, there I was sitting in a Chinese cafe on Ste Catherine half way through a bowl of won ton soup — indeed, half way through a won ton — with a pot of tea in front of me, with absolutely no idea how I got there, and totally convinced that this was in fact a dream.
When I’m dreaming and I suspect it’s a dream, I try running through the events of the day so far, because if it’s a dream, I’ll go back to earlier events, thus proving it’s a dream. This has served me very well on the couple of real occasions I’ve thought something might be a dream, and also in dreams. This time it didn’t work. There were no events leading to me being there — if I was there, which I wasn’t at all sure about. I’d never been there before. I could tell where it was because I could see the corner out of the window, Ste Catherine and St Matthieu. Down by Guy.
It was definitely a dream, because it had a choppy staccatto dream-rhythm like T.S. Eliot.
Except that the tea was hot and the ice water was cold, and the soup tasted like soup, which seemed evidence for it being real, despite the haze. There was a plate of shrimp in lobster sauce in front of me, brown, like the one they do in Tchiang Kiang, which didn’t seem like something I’d order, and a teapot exactly like my travel teapot, both of which seemed like evidence for it not being real. There were people, eating, who had faces, but realistic people’s faces are really normal in my dreams.
I drank tea, and held on to the cup. I was fuzzing in and out. I kept checking my belt pouch and my purse, which kept containing the same things. This wasn’t like a dream, except it was. If it was real, how the heck had I got here? There was $20 in my purse, which was both reassuring and evidence against it being an anxiety dream.
If it was a dream, I had nothing to lose by acting as if it was real. If it was real, I wasn’t in a fit state to be out by myself and ought to get in touch with Rysmiel. My watch said it was 11.52 on Tuesday 21st February. There was a calendar (a Hello Kitty calendar) on the wall that also said February. If it was a Tuesday lunch time, Rysmiel could be in work. I could ring work. I found the number in my address book. This wasn’t like a dream. I could read. My head hurt. I felt sick. I finished the soup and drank tea.
I got up and went to the bathroom, looking for a phone. No phone. In the bathroom, I tentatively decided it was real, and went to the loo. (I have a strict rule that I never use the toilet in dreams, ever since the time I wet the bed when I was oh, eight maybe? But the quantity of tea I was drinking, I needed it.)
I went back to the table and asked the waitress if there was a phone. The guy at the desk let me use his phone, and dialled for me. I got the voicemail, which was in French. I couldn’t understand it at all, which was, I immediately realised, normal for people who had been hit on the head.
I went and sat down and drank tea and tried to work on the assumption I’d been hit on the head. (Had I gone to the bathroom? Had I tried to call Rysmiel? Was time going on discretely, or continuously?) Then I remembered falling on the ice, my legs going from under me, and hitting my head. My hat fell off. I hadn’t hurt anything except my head. Nobody was near, but someone coming along called to me to be careful, in French, which I hadn’t understood (except that I had) because people can’t understand French when they’ve been hit on the head. (It’s from the film L’Auberge Espagnol.) I stood up and put my hat on. It was covered in snow. My head hurt front and back. I thought “I should go to Ma-nna, they would look after me” but I couldn’t remember where it was or what it was. I thought if I couldn’t remember Ma-nna, I should check what I could remember. I tried to remember “O for a muse of fire” because I knew that was what people tried to remember, even though I don’t actually know it. (Thank you for that, Angevin2!) I then tried to remember “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” and could remember that. Then I tried to remember my name, and remembered the version of my name I used to use when I was a kid, and then that it wasn’t that, it was Walton, and then that it was Jo. I couldn’t remember my telephone number. I couldn’t tell where I was.
At that point, dream-brain must have taken over because I still really can’t remember anything at all between that and being in the restaurant. I suspect dream-brain wanted tea, because I saw afterwards that it must have taken me across a road (wahhh!) and past two other eating places. Good old dream-brain must also have ordered (but why that?) and started to eat.
I drank tea. I started to figure out what had happened in a sensible way and to make notes in my notebook. I reproduce the notes, which are long and repetitive and talk much about how wonderful tea is (I suspect I drank about four pints of Jasmine tea) but useful research experience .
“I hit my head.
I fell on the ice.
This is real. This is the first time I’ve been really confused about dream and real when it has been real. I’m swimming a bit. I came out and got the 10.54 90 to Atwater. I missed a 15, I got the metro to Guy and walked down St Matthieu towards the remainder book place and then fell and banged my head hard somehow on the ice and I thought it was a dream and it is confused like a dream but it is real. I somehow somehow got myself into a Chinese restaurant on the corner of St Matthieu and Ste Catherine and ordered shrimp in lobster sauce. I have never been in here before.
There is too much detail for a dream, also there is taste. No taste in dream. Tea, life-giving tea, which is in a pot like my plastic travel pot. Too real. But I am missing a bit. How did I get here, how did I order? I tried to call Rysmiel but got G’s voicemail and did not leave a message. Nobody can understand French when they hit their head. I need Rysmiel. I need somebody. It’s 12.03. I can’t trust myself to get home. It was snow on ice. I may be concussed? I drank the soup. I went to the loo. I tried to phone. Let’s keep as much coherence as possible here. The shrimp in lobster sauce — why the heck would I order that? — is the same as in Tchiang Kiang. It’s 12.06. If I caught a 10.54 bus there’s an hour, say 20 minutes to Atwater — at least half an hour missing. This is real. If it was a dream — less consistent. If Heaven, why shrimp in lobster sauce, and why the tea getting too strong? No, real. I’m sure. I could believe Heaven as a Chinese restaurant, but. This is so weird. I don’t think I ever lost time before. I don’t remember, and I lost coherence. I’m OK now, I think.
Went to the loo again. The bathroom was the way I remembered it. Food has taste. I’m not tracking so well though. I need someone. I could be concussed. I could easily be concussed. I need to keep track. Tea, blessed tea, tea is helping. Even unconscious I get myself to tea. That’s a good thing. I just saw the menu go by. I recognise them, or from dream. Wow, I ordered while unconscious. Thank Healing Apollo is/was tea here.
More and more convinced this is real the longer it goes on. Also, I don’t have my pen — this pen is always in bag, the other one, which in dream I would have, is on the desk. tea is hot, also all gone. Water is cold. This is real. How interesting. She’s getting me more tea. I tried to ring Rysmiel but no answer. I could email from Guy. If could get to Guy could get home. But maybe concussion? Should I be checked by doctor? (A Chinese restaurant in Heaven would have chopsticks. They might be 5 feet long or something, but they wouldn’t be forks. Even the Chinese people have forks here. This is real.)
More tea. No dream, going on too consistently. New tea hotter. Now 12.22. I think I remember everything pretty much.
Just confided in the waitress and explained that I hit my head on the ice. I remember picking up my hat, but like a dream. I told her the tea was helping and could I stay a minute and drink it, and she said it was fine. I wish I could call Rysmiel. I’ve asked — well, she offered — to have the shrimp etc to go and she’s brought it in a bag. This is real, real, real, and I can’t quite believe how long I was unsure.
Ah. A fortune cookie. It says “Relax and spend more time with a loved one”. If it had said “Fooled you, this is a dream” that would have been weird! I think I’ll be OK. Can I get home? Should I go to the doctor? That fortune cookie didn’t taste of anything! But then they never do. I’m tracking. I’m fairly sure I’m tracking. I can remember my proper name and my phone number, which I couldn’t before. I couldn’t remember how to get to Ma-nna. I didn’t know where I was. I thought if I didn’t have that it was a dream, but also the thing to do was to sit down and have tea, which it was. I’m quite surprised with my spinal reflex’s ability actually.
Well, this is a research experience and a half.
Oh my god, I must have crossed a road! Well, I’m OK. But luck, thank you kind Hermes, luck only.
Just now a tall Chinese guy came in, saw a table of his friends. Him: “Ca va?” Them: long and incomprehensible answer in Chinese.
If it gets really full, I’ll have to go. I told the waitress, but even so, it isn’t fair. There’s an empty table for four still. It’s 12.37. Do I dream all the time that I am ordering lunch in Chinese restaurants, such that I can do it while unconscious? I suppose I might. I was going to go to IGA. if I’m OK, I should, because food.
OK. I’m OK. So, Guy metro, then Atwater, IGA, food for dinner. I remember what I wanted. Tell you a weird thing, I remembered that I ought to check who I was before I remembered who I was. I also said “O for a muse of fire” before realising I didn’t know the rest of it at all, even when coherent and failed on the telephone number but did remember “On first looking into”. But I’d have to be beyond a zombie not to remember that! That before my real name. Well, that’s me, hey? OK, onward!”
I’m now home, and Rysmiel is here and we’ve decided that I am in fact OK, despite still having a gap in memory, so don’t anybody worry!