Somewhere Between Here and Eternity

Quinn Standley

I used to hold my breath and make a wish when we would drive freeway tunnels. I remember this one freeway interchange that was a million feet high and a million lanes wide and there were a million roads and bridges and curves and dark tunnels and bright tunnels and cars that raced by but there was no freeway noise in fact there was no noise at all other than the silence—the 16,000 hz cacophonous buzz somewhere between my brain and my ear drums. I remember the first time I heard that buzz—I was three or maybe four years old and when I would get overwhelmed or cry or have a tantrum I would lay in my closet and look up at the light bulb and I remember one time I laid there until I fell asleep and when my tears dried and I woke up I heard a buzz in my head and I thought it was the sound of silence. The freeway interchange—there was no way to get into or out of it because it was a loop or a trap or something like that and I remember I was futilely trying to find a way out of it or through it or over or even across it and in attempting to do so I walked on a narrow sliver of some sort of sidewalk but it only lead to thousands of these strange glass elevators that soared up into the sky and down into the infinite abyss beneath the ground. I knew that I had been in this place once before—or actually multiple times or maybe even an infinite amount of times but I couldn’t remember why but I do remember I was always alone at this place and I could neither move forward nor backward through space and time because going either direction or even upward or downward always lead to the same place like they are all contained within themselves or something. I remember when I was younger and had moved home from Seattle because of repeated psychotic episodes and was finally approaching mental stability after 8 months of pharmaceutical trial and error I decided that I would never move back to Seattle and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life but I remember that I wanted to become a farmer or go to school for forestry or for awhile I waned to join the military because I had nowhere else to go and I remember receiving letters in the mail beginning when I was 17 checking up on me and they said I could join the United States Marines to find a sense of belonging and travel the world and have all these benefits and even shoot a gun and drive big trucks but the tradeoff was that I would be scared of my ceiling fan. I still want to be a farmer but I never want to go to war because guns make me nervous especially because I only shot a gun once and it was this one time I shot my Dad’s 12 gauge and the power of the weapon made me shake and I had intrusive thoughts that I was going to shoot him and my only regret in my life is that I didn’t go to school for forestry when I was offered a full ride to Northern Arizona University and turned it down but maybe things happen for a reason, but in reality I don’t know if I believe that because I think things happen and then we come up with a reason but what difference does it make? Anyway the freeway overpass dissected Seattle from Phoenix and I didn’t know which way to go. If I was going one way on a road or sidewalk I would run into this freeway interchange but then I would get stuck in it forever and then I would die but there was this one time where I was with a little boy—and I knew that the little boy was my son and I knew that I had never loved anything like him in my life and it felt so real and I looked into his eyes and I saw myself and I wanted to protect him forever but we got stuck here at this void and he grabbed onto my back and we followed sidewalks to dead ends and into tunnels and came out the other side but we would be looking at the same tunnel we just went through and we took elevators to different levels of the interchange and would come out and be trapped outside or inside enclosed gates and sometimes I would lose my son and when I’d find him he would be in a different elevator or stuck in a different enclosed space but we would somehow always end up back together and it was always in the same place we started. I don’t remember how long this went on but I remember it as clearly as any other memory and I remember it lasting for an eternity and the last thing I remember was saying goodbye to my son and we were both crying but when my son said goodbye I switched perspectives to him and looked at myself and then I had the realization that we were the same person and I looked through tears at myself who was also crying and then I woke up with tears in my actual eyes but I had only been asleep for 6 hours and I do not have a son and I am 20 years old and I still end up in the same place I started and there’s a buzz in my ears that I thought was the sound of silence but it’s just another fluke in my neural chemistry and I used to have that dream every night—but that was the last time. And sometimes I still can’t discern it form a memory.

I’m not sure what’s worse the insomnia or the night terrors. “Dreams”—To call them dreams is laughable but to call them nightmares is childish and according to the DSM-5 to call them night-terrors would be inaccurate but what I do know is that I can’t discern them from reality and even now—long after I stopped dreaming—they are woven into my memory and I do know that they used to last days or weeks or years and when I finally woke up I felt like I hadn’t slept in just as long and some mornings with bags under my eyes I would check the time and calculate that I’d slept for over 10 hours but felt like I’d slept for less than a minute and on other nights I would wake up and find that I slept for 20 minutes but my dream lasted two weeks and I can’t remember if my dad is actually dead or if it was just part of that dream and why do I have tears in my eyes?

I can’t remember my first dream because I don’t remember any dreams before my 17th birthday but I remember last year I had an American dream: a cheese burger turned into a gun and I woke up laughing. My baseline for a bad dream or a nightmare or a night terror is this one time I killed a baby in my dreams and it made me feel like a psychopath or a sociopath or maybe just a sinner but I do not know the difference between the three but I do know that this one night I had a dream that started with this girl I had apparently impregnated and when she had the baby I took a knife and slashed it and killed it and dumped the body and then went on a run from the police for two weeks and when I woke up I felt like it was all true and I felt mortified, humiliated, paranoid, and shocked that something so morbid could come from my mind or like my subconscious or whatever and it wasn’t until many months later when I was on a long drive through the desert with my dad when I put on one of my favorite outlaw country songs called Psycho sung by Eddie Noack and my dad didn’t really like it for some reason and I said dad why don’t you like this song and he said the lyrics are really fucked up, man—and I shrugged and said I don’t listen to music for the lyrics I just like how it sounds, and then when I got home I pulled up the lyrics and laughed hysterically because it is a song about a cowboy who kills his baby and goes on a run from the law and so I must’ve listened to that song right before going to bed that one night. The good thing is that ever since I started taking a medicine called Prazosin all these nightmares stopped but sadly my dreams stopped too but then one day I looked up information about the drug and saw a news article that said it is the most common medicine given to veterans with PTSD to help them with their nightmares but the article said that there is no conclusive evidence that it helps and it actually said that the drug is just a placebo affect and so after I read that article I stopped taking my pill at night and then my nightmares came back and I vividly remember this one morning I woke up confused why I didn’t have a brain tumor because I could’ve sworn that I was dealing with one for months and could remember all the hospital visits and consultations with surgeons etcetera etcetera until I remembered that I stopped taking my Prazosin because that one news site deemed it to be a placebo affect and so jesus fucking christ I thought, I’m never skipping this pill again. And now when I drive through tunnels I don’t hold my breath and I don’t make a wish I just remember those dreams I used to have and wonder what they meant or if they meant anything or if it is just another symptom that can be defined by a disorder in one of the books my psychiatrist uses or cured with a pill or if its a real place in a different world or a different universe that I’ll never visit again or if I do it won’t be in this life time or maybe not even the next. If I did hold my breath and wish for something maybe I would wish I was a farmer or a forester but maybe there’s a reason I’m something else but even if there wasn’t a reason I could easily come up with one.

Quinn Standley (he/him) (B. Phoenix, Arizona) is an experimental artist who explores integrated imaging technologies to ontologically research the nature of being, time, and space. His practice investigates the materiality of the universe, the mechanics of consciousness, and ecological interconnectedness. His philosophical, critical, and introspective multimedia projects are simultaneously other-worldly and yet deeply human.