I dreamed last night that I moved to Minneapolis.It wasn’t really Minneapolis, of course, but my sleeping brain needed a city name and that’s what it pulled out of storage. My new house was neat, clean, freshly painted, and very quiet. The refrigerator was well stocked and the heater worked fine. There was no reason to ever leave. It was perfect.
Across the street squatted a dive named the Cinnamon Bar, and next to that stood a bookstore. “I never have to leave this block,” I thought. The dream was the kind that leaves me both inordinately happy and desperate not to wake up.
I woke up anyway, and when I did I panicked about a doctor’s appointment that I haven’t even made. That’s not hyperbole: I was in the throes of a panic attack. Soon I’ll run out of the little pink pills that regulate my brain chemistry, and my doctor insists that he see me before renewing my prescription. There’s no good reason for this. He’s a general practitioner rather than a psychiatrist, and my visit never includes an evaluation of my mental health.
All we manage to do is waste hours of my time. I will sit in the lobby and wait, then be led to a scale by a physician’s assistant who will record my weight. She will then take me to an examination room and measure my blood pressure, followed by a host of routine questions that have no bearing on the little pink pills that regulate my brain chemistry. She’ll leave after the last question, and then I’ll sit in the examination room and wonder how many tongue depressors I can fit in my mouth or what a handjob feels like through a surgical glove.
Eventually the doctor will enter. He will shake my hand and pretend that he likes and remembers me. He’ll ask the same questions that the physician’s assistant asked. I will give the same answers. He’ll tell me he wants a battery of blood tests — cholesterol and blood sugar and blah blah blah — and I’ll nod in agreement but will never go down to the lab on the second floor, just turn left when you exit the elevator and it’s right there. My insurance won’t cover the tests he’s ordered, and even if it did I don’t want to know what time bombs tick inside of me. I just want the little pink pills that regulate my brain chemistry so that I can march toward my inevitable death without checking locks, counting everything in multiples of four, and other compulsive behaviors.
The whole transaction will cost the doctor three minutes, five tops, but it will waste hours of my time. Months, actually, if I factor in the hours wasted dreading the experience and role playing it in my broken brain.
“I don’t seem to have lab results from your last visit,” he says.
“Huh. That’s strange.”
He stares at the PC screen next to the box of handjob gloves. “I don’t have any going back four years.”
“I’m going to write a lab order. Just take the elevator down to the second floor. Turn left and it’s right there.”
“Okay,” I say.
He studies me. “You aren’t going to go, are you?”
“Why not? We need to check your cholesterol, your blood sugar, your this and your that. It’s very important.”
“No it isn’t,” I say. “It’s not important at all.”
The doctor is clearly offended. His purpose is to find secrets hidden in bodily fluids. I’ve just told him that his life’s work is a waste of time. “Yes. It is,” he says. “You’re too old to ignore your health. Promise me you’ll go to the lab.”
“Okay, I promise.”
We sit quietly. “You aren’t going to go, are you?”
“This is your life we’re talking about,” the doctor says.
“Yes. That’s the reason that I tolerate coming here, because without the pink pills life is very difficult for me.”
“But there’s more to your well being than that.”
“No, there isn’t. I want to die when I die. What I don’t want is to obsess about something lurking inside of me, because that’s what I’ll do. It will consume my thoughts, even more so than this imaginary conversation that I’m having with you right now.”
“But if we know what’s happening with you we can prolong your life,” he says.
“I don’t want my life prolonged. I want to die when it’s time for me to die.”
“That’s depression talking,” he says. Of course he thinks that: His job is to keep me alive for as long as possible. Any suggestion otherwise must be symptomatic of an illness that must be treated.
Maybe he’s right, I don’t know, but I’m sure that if it’s depression talking then renewing my prescription for little pink pills would be a step in the right direction while dragging me out of my house and through the hot coals of bureaucracy and confrontation just drives me deeper into my cave. But in my dream I live in a quiet, comfortable house, and just outside the door await both a bookstore and a bar and that is all.
It’s all so goddamned unnecessary and exhausting. I don’t even have the energy to speculate on why the bastards want everyone to live forever, doing busy things that don’t matter so that other people can do busy things that don’t matter.
I check the clock: six a.m. I wrap a pillow around my head, close my eyes and try to get back to the Cinnamon Bar, where the drinks are served in little pink glasses and ordering one is never a hassle.