This column seeks to connect the stories of my dreams/nightmares with my life experiences.
I had two choices in the Tunnel. I could face the vast darkness that swirled ahead of me, or I could turn around and walk into the exact same thing. So really, there was no actual decision to be made.
Of course not. The Tunnel was formidable. Frightening. Deathly.
My instinct was to ask the person next to me what we should do. Most times, I’d hear their advice but ignore it. The conclusion was always mine to make. A very classic (and admittedly selfish) move on my part, so what happened next was probably some sort of karmic relief in the world. This time, the only person I could ask — could use as a harbinger for my own assurance — was myself. I was alone in the Tunnel, forced to embrace the cold black walls that stretched for miles and sat tight across my shoulders. Everything was, quite obviously, fucked.
I decided to run. Run into the depths of the Tunnel, sensing its gloom tug at the hairs on my skin. While the grim surroundings darkened my soul, the ground was soft and smooth, holding nothing to betray the integrity of my escape. Every step I took brought me deeper into the Tunnel, but it didn’t really feel like it. The soles of my feet always met the same fate: something flat, something smooth, something dry — something promising.
It felt safe.
I ran slower.
I was afraid the ground would surprise me. It didn’t. It seemed to be my friend.
Foot here, it whispered. Go anywhere you want.
After running for some time, I noticed that everything was well. I just had to keep going, and maybe, I’d find the end of this hellish nightmare.
Comfort and safety carefully made their way up my body.
I knew better, though. This was too easy. Too simple. Something had to go wrong in this place. The lack of light and beauty already hinted at impending doom.
It had been minutes, hours, maybe, until I felt something cold and small trickle down the back of my shoulder.
There it was again.
A metallic scent filled the air.
I looked around me to see where it was coming from.
Nothing but coldness ran through me now.
The walls were no longer black, or grim. They were soaked red, the blood forming long spindles that threatened to burn the ground it would land on. When it did land, it hit me. Drop by drop, my skin was no longer my own. It belonged to the world around me, to the deathly blush that was beginning to paint my entirety.
This time, I really ran.
The ground was still kind. Everything else was not.
The Tunnel does not come from a fantasy novel. It is real, it is here, and it is now. The Tunnel lives in me, and I in it. Its darkness perpetually clouds my vision, my thoughts, my words and my love.
I made it out alive, though. Doing so required the betrayal of my dear friend and confidant: the ground. I could not allow myself to trust its flatness, its welcoming surface.
When you love someone, they become your ground. They keep you alive when the days are dark and as the rain forces minuscule holes into your soul. They keep you going, running, breathing.
In fact, I have walked on holy ground before.
Several times, actually. Growing up in a religious household meant that I had my ground laid out before me. Yet every time I’d walk up to the altar to eat the fragile coin of dry, smooth bread, my feet could not find solace in anything soft and kind. My toes would always wriggle in my sandals, uncomfortable with the rough carpet whispering all sorts of things into my ear. This holy ground couldn’t really be holy, could it?
I have walked on holy ground before.
It was wonderfully compassionate and forgiving and beautiful and warm, bringing lovely heat to the coldness of my heart without so much as a flickering flame. Unlike the church’s devilish carpet, this ground had my feet wanting to sink in and live there forever. At least that’s what we promised each other, anyway.
The problem with loving,
The problem with loving the Holy (Holiest) Ground is that you give him your life. Your trust. Your force of existence. So after some time, you begin to forget that the Tunnel is all around you. But the thing is, the Holy Ground cannot bring you light.
He never could.
Only false comfort and the lie of safety, warm kisses and wrinkles that underline the eye when you’d smile. These things made stepping foot upon the Holy Ground, in the flesh, like having someone light a match for you — only you — to burn the world down and praise your incarnate desire.
The problem with loving,
The problem with loving the Holiest Ground is that he beckons you to stare at the world’s ashes, so you don’t really realize that he’s painting your Tunnel red. With your blood.
Isn’t it beautiful, he says?
Before you can answer, he disappears. The floor is gone and there you stand.
Alone in the Tunnel, tainted by your insides. It must be your fault, then.
I have walked on holy ground before, been in love before, and the Tunnel still did not fade away. It stayed there and so did I, waiting for the next droplet to leave a permanent blush on my shoulders.
I cannot leave and I cannot forget.