So anyway, I had this dream…
I ran a hilly marathon under grey skies, headed toward the center of a dreary town.
I recognized the blight from my youth. This was my boyhood home, Waterbury, Connecticut. Once a bustling industrial powerhouse, Waterbury boasted giant factories and the promise of modernity. It was quite literally the brass capital of the world; until plastics emerged on the scene.
Today, dilapidated, empty factories dot the landscape. Like many Northeastern industrial towns, Waterbury has not truly recovered from post-World War II industrial upheaval. To the chagrin of my family, I describe the place as New York without any of the positive traits. I left at age eighteen.
Now here I was, running in the Waterbury Urban Decay Marathon. Thatâ€™s enough to put me on the couch, Iâ€™m sure.
But then things got strange.
Early in the race, I was already expending considerable effort. Every step seemed heavy and laborious. My peripheral vision was oddly restricted. I could hear my own harsh breathing resounding in my ears.
Apparently, this is what happens when you run in full medieval armor. I really canâ€™t say if it was Gothic, Salet, or Fleur des lis. I just know it was heavy. Displaying the true grit (stubborn resignation) of the marathoner, I just trudged along anyway, worried only that my finishing time would suffer.
But it wouldnâ€™t be that easy. The course began to wind through parks, courtyards, stairs (exterior and interior), and even through offices and stores. At one point I was on a bus worried about missing a Society for Creative Anachronism joust.
Course markings were perplexing to the point of lunacy. Lines painted on the road were either dotted, straight, red, white or yellow (or any combination of these) and featured symbols I didn’t understand. They cross-crossed each other, ran in parallel, and doubled or even trippled back on themselves. Runners came and went from every direction. The course looked like a Family Circus map of little Billyâ€™s diversions on the way home to dinnerâ€¦ if Billy were a thirty-seven year old knight errant wannabe.
Suddenly (and inexplicably) I found myself inside the magnificently austere Dawes, Tomes Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank from MARY POPPINS. There I stood, helpless in an absurdly long teller line. Everyone else ran easily outside the rope line, crossing a mat and triggering the incessant beeping of timing chips. I feared a delay, but couldnâ€™t get out of the velvet maze. Either that, or I really needed to deposit that tuppence.
As with all dreams, details are hazy. I was parched, but paradoxically had a DEFCON ONE urge to use the bathroom. All the while, I was possessed by that feeling you get when watching Dave Bowman approach the monolith at the end of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY; Just plain weirded out.
I wonâ€™t even mention the incident with the Pillsbury Dough Boy.