4/13/20: Dreams of Malls

So many dreams of mine take place in this gigantic mall. Gigantic, enormous, labyrinthine, Leviathanic; in the dozens and dozens of dreams I’ve had about it, I’ve never come close to compassing its complete acreage. Inside, it twists and corkscrews and extends like a demon’s bowels; long sloping entryways feed into giant encircling foodcourts that spin into vaunting atriums that rise up for storeys and echoing storeys; escalators and elevators and ramps and staircases spiraling and straight are hung like bunting everywhere, in unbalanced, asymmetrical festoonage. Entire other buildings exist inside of the mall, perfectly formed as they would be on the outside, with their own foundation, walls, roof, entrances and exits that lead back into the mall’s endless thoroughfares. Down deeper there are whole sublevels that are wet, humid, echoing mass bathrooms and shower rooms. Here, there are gigantic trough-like sinks that run for uncanny lengths underneath equally long frameless mirrors; here, a thousand hollow-eyed men could stare at their own sagging faces while they scrub their cold hands with institutional, pink liquid soap; and there is not enough lighting in this part of the mall. Parking garages go catacombing underneath the mall for presumably miles. I found out in a recent dream that it has its own airport.

From the outside of the mall, I’ve seen different different sides of its incomprehensible vastness. One side opens out into in the downtown heart of a full-size city; another side stands alone on a gentle rise in a sun-punished grassland plain, with a circular carpark around it baking obscenely under the ironclad heat. That side looks public-schoolish, bureaucratic, vaguely municipal; it’s all ugly squarish shapes, stacked up on one another like blocks; but another side is a sleek, black tower that rises up into the sky.

Inside, stores recur in slightly different form with an absurd, fractal redundancy: game stores, clothing stores, multiple full-sized hardware stores, kitchen stores, jewelry shops, music stores, pet stores; all repeat over and over again with the most achingly insignificant distinctions. But then again, some stores do seem severely understocked, understaffed, or even from a different era, as if they were built and furnished decades before a store ten feet away.

Oftentimes in these dreams I’m at the mall looking for some specific thing. And so I’ll meticulously peruse the racks in one of these stores. In the strange contracted capaciousness of time in a dream, a minute will pass as I spend hours looking for this thing, whatever it is. One time, I remember, it was a new Pokemon game, one that nobody else had or knew about, that I learned of through a magazine only I received. This game was a oblong red cartridge that wouldn’t fit into any system I had or that existed as far as I knew, but I still wanted it. On the front of the cartridge there was a sepia image of a Lapras swimming in the distance of a mild sea; strangely melancholic. This weird sorrow attached to the cart made me want it more.

In that case, I found the thing I was looking for, but most times I don’t. I go back and forth over the spot where it should be on the shelf, but I pass over it, again and again; or it is there, but, somehow, I’m unable to engage with the location in space and time in which it exists, like some force is manhandling my consistency in reality, pushing me back and forth to either side of the desired object. Or I’ll go to speak with the employees, and be inexplicably profoundly silent, or muddled, lethargic, unable to articulate what I want quickly enough, as if I had been shot with a tranquilizer and were trying to blurt out what I need before passing out.

In all these cases of uncontrollable failure, by the way, my mood is only ever a heavy, bland frustration that never blossoms into rage or anger, even though every atom of my being is polluted by the galling cruelty of my situation.

My journey from the mall afterwards is fraught and compromised and often humiliating also. Like maybe I’ll have to walk home, through miles and miles of head-high wheat stalks under a cruel sun. Or maybe I’ll be forced by the invisible director who orchestrates these things (and who is also myself, watching myself) to drive my car from the backseat, reaching my arms around either side of the driver’s seat headrest to grasp the wheel. And I’ll inevitably be going too fast, my breaks will not exist, I’ll have to swerve the car at high speed between other cars, around impediments, into gut-clenching turns.

Sometimes the dream ends before the journey ends.

But sometimes I end up at your house.

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