Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Nightmares May Come

For years, I have had this recurring nightmare that I am unable to get to school. Everywhere I turn there is a roadblock, and at times I cannot even leave my house. I am always aware of the dream clock - class has started and I'm not there.

I have these dreams only in Seattle, where there would be no foreseeable roadblock or flood outside my door (on my high Phinney hill).

I have never had this nightmare in Saigon, where - on more than one occasion - I have woken up to inches of water outside my door and where I have negotiated Road Challenges every day of this school year.

But on Monday morning, I literally could not get to school. I did my best through the Back Way Obstacle Course of holes and cement water pipes and sprinklers, but was stumped at the semi truck parked across what used to be our open-river-sidewalk-in-the-opposite-direction. I was within one hundred meters of the school, but had to backtrack four miles, re-cover those same four more miles back toward the school, overshoot the school by one mile and navigate a U-Turn to get there.

I was ten minutes late, and I cried when I got into my classroom (I have first period planning, fortunately. First period planning is never part of my Seattle school nightmares). What usually takes me fifteen minutes had taken over 60. The main reason for the crying, however, was not the roadblock issue. It had to do with my next topic: Scars from 'Nam.

I now have:
1) One very deep motorbike burn (Saigon kiss) on my right ankle (acquired in Sept. 09)

2) One huge, ugly motorbike burn (Saigon souvenir) on my left calf (acquired the day I got Dengue Fever, Dec. 09...people gasp when they see it it's so horrible...)

3) The memory of Dengue Fever

4) One dislodged crystal from my right ear that still causes me some vertigo (dislodged Nov. '08 when Nam and I were rear ended)

and now, added that same Monday Roadblock Morning:

5) One scraped left elbow and

6) One scraped right toe.

I acquired the scrapes right out on my little street - I saw one of my favorite rice ladies crouched on a sidewalk as I was driving out to the main road. As I made a slight turn towards the sidewalk, a motorbike was passing me on the left - one of the most annoying Saigon tricks. He barely hit me, but I lost my balance and went over. Not bad, but still, another wound from 'Nam.

So - I was crying not because of pain, but because I was mad that this scar was going to come with me to the wedding I'm going to next weekend, along with all of the others.

4 comments:

Annette said...

You know Marjie, I imagine you as a stylish Indiana Jones. Perhaps you should purchase a whip and a brown fedora to help cross those huge, gaping holes and to deal with the evil motorbike drivers while still sporting the silk and heels. (Cue in cool soundtrack in the background)

As far as the scars, there's a tiny, warped part of me that is a little jealous. Not that I want either one of us to be hurt, but when I have a scar or a burn, it's from the oven or the iron or as a result of some classic, graceful Annette move.

As always, you are my hero and I think you're very cool.

Annette

Brian Bowker said...

I agree with Annette; you could rock a good fedora.

I say wear your scars with pride, and milk them as ice breakers. When someone asks you about one, play it cool at first; "Oh, it's just this thing that happened in Vietnam."

Then they will REALLY want to hear you tell the story, and you can make up any story you want.

Amy T. said...

Scars at classroom management tool:
1. Be good or I’ll show you my scars.
2. Be good or this could happen to you.

Scars as men magnets:
1. I may look like a supermodel in my hand-tailored clothes, but look at how tough I really am!
2. Back off, Buddy.

Scars as writing prompts:
1. There once was a woman from Nam…
2. What shape is this scar? What story does it tell?

Scars as Seattleite commodity:
1. Brian’s falsetto voice here, “"Oh, it's just this thing that happened in Vietnam."
2. Did I ever tell you about the time the streets were soooo flooded…
3. Rain? I’ll show you rain…

marjie said...

I think I can get a fedora at Ben Thanh; I like that image, thanks A-Net.

And, Amy - as usual, you made my scars so... practical. I now celebrate them.