Not long ago I started wearing a night guard when sleeping, on the recommendation of my dentist. I've had a cracked tooth replaced with an implant, and I need the guard to keep from wrecking the crown atop the post.
One of the more curious side effects of wearing the night guard is that I have far more vivid and memorable dreams than I ever did in my entire life. My dreams have typically been dreary stuff: trying to get home from school, trying to find classes I haven't attended all semester, trying to navigate some airport where the signs make no sense, etc. But now, well ...
I was in a space that was reminiscent of a large hotel, with all the rooms on the higher floors ringed around a central atrium, but with the first four or five floors taken up by a kind of maze of shops reachable by steep pathways. The effect was reminiscent of a little European town with twisty streets lined with stores.
Somehow I knew I was familiar with these "streets" and the shops on them. Many of them stocked the kinds of rare books and records I loved to hunt for, so I walked up a little steep path that branched off one of the main steep paths and pushed my way inside.
The floor space inside this shop was round, with the outer edge of the circle being a kind of balcony. In front of me were stairs leading down to the middle of the circle, wherein were a number of stalls with books, records, etc. The geometry of the place was awkward; it felt like it had been retrofitted into a space not really accepting of it, but in a cozy and charming way.
A woman came up to me immediately, dressed in a formal black kimono, with a helmet of black hair and thick-rimmed glasses. She reminded me of the caricature of the costume designer Edith Head that was used as a character design in the movie The Incredibles. From one fold of her kimono she removed a stethoscope, which she clipped onto her ears. She slipped the diaphragm of the stethoscope up the back of my shirt and pressed it against a spot on my back near my left shoulder blade, then nodded affirmingly.
Somehow, this whole experience, culminating in that moment, filled me with a sensation of peace and absolute serenity that remains unmatched, whether in my dreams or awake. For the first time in memory, I regretted waking up.
Other Lives Of The Mind