I stop for gas along highway one, on the California coast. It's an old fashioned gas station, with antique pumps and a small, shack like building where you pay. It's set up on the edge of this sheer drop cliff that gives a view of the ocean hundreds of feet below. My girlfriend and road tripping companion Dawn waits in the car while I go inside to pay for the gas. It's a sublimely pleasant late afternoon, the sun is beginning to make its descent, playing off the ocean in sparkling flashes of blues, reds, and gold.
I go inside and there's a little asian lady sitting at the desk; there's an old fashioned cash register, made of heavy bulky iron that rests in front of her. The place is plain and tiny. I pay for the gas and ask to use the restroom. She points to a door in the back of the small building, the only other room in the place, and says "You can use it. But be careful -- the tide's coming in."
I step into the tiny gas station bathroom, there's windows to my left, along the wall, big windows that are open and let in the sea breeze. I look out a window for a moment and notice that the waves of the ocean, which a moment ago were at the bottom of this gigantic cliff, are now pushing up against the side of the house. We are now at sea level. "The tide is coming in," I remember the lady told me. The waves are big, white and frothy, strong and powerful; I can feel their force against the creaky old building. The sea water begins to rise into the bathroom through the floorboards. I move over to the corner between the sink and the toilet, my shoes now wet, but not soaked, and I'm wondering how I'm going to take a piss while all this water is rising from the bathroom floor. Stand on the toilet seat, aim carefully? (I think this in the dream.) The sea water outside is now nearly at the height of the windows, the force of the waves is massive.
There's a gigantic cracking sound -- the waves jolt the bathroom violently, suddenly ripping it apart from the rest of the building and dropping it into the ocean. "Shit. Like a pulled tooth," I think in the dream. Lost for a moment in this box of sound and sudden confusion, I feel the onset of panic begin to kick in, realizing that I'm about to be swallowed up by the sea. The sea: I visualize the endless expanse of the ocean in my mind: the unfathomable depths and amazing force of the ocean, the ocean: unflinching mammoth waves that will swallow me up with their power, I experience a modicum of the boundless strength of mother nature. The helplessness that man has against the earth, the environment. The sea has grabbed me and is taking me away.
But panic doesn't set in -- my mind snaps to survival mode: I race towards the windows as a wall of ocean blots them in darkness, water furiously rushes through them in freezing salty deluges. I'm rocking violently in this little gas station bathroom, but I have to get out. "The windows, the door -- the door! Open it up, get out and swim!" I'll die, probably. A quick momentary flash of the current daily news: hurricanes in Florida, massive flooding in Texas, angry ocean, rising tide . . . The water in the bathroom is rising rapidly; I see myself swimming for my life, trying to reach dry ground, while furious ocean waves the size of buildings pull me back in. I know that the whole ocean is out there, and I know that I am nothing against it. But still, I am going to try to get out of this scenario and swim, and fight, and try to survive, even if it leads to my death. I reach for the door, ready to wrench it open -- ready to go up against the entire sea, man versus nature -- my hand touches the knob.
And then I wake up.