Let's go unfiltered at the Gothic Ginobili. I'd like to talk about a dream I had.
I had some expectations going in, as I vaguely became aware of my location in the dream. Like, I knew it would be a nightmare from the start because the room I was in was really well-lit, and yet from the window I could tell it was night. Great foreshadowing, dream. Also, in real life, I had been in a minor bike accident a few hours before going to sleep (I'm fine, just some scrapes), so I'd expected some flashes of violent imagery. So not just a nightmare, but a screamer as well. There was a compounding and foreboding sense of fear -- as if chemically induced -- that I felt all around me in the emptiness of the room.
• • •
Let's set the scene: As with many dreams, the room itself pretty strongly resembled my one-room apartment, but had expanded out to a somewhat gigantic one-room condo. All the hallways were bigger, there was a small hot-tub sized pool in the center (brewing like a cauldron), and all the windows and doors were much larger and more open. I felt empty and vulnerable, for some reason.
And then the horror started. The room darkened somewhat. Some of the lights in the room flickered a few times and then went to black for no apparent reason. Sometimes I would catch lights going off and right before they did, in that pregnant darkness not yet attained, I would see a figure shrouded in black. I would see this figure just briefly enough to have doubt to its existence, just starkly enough to have no doubt that - whether it existed or not - something was happening and I didn't want to be around when this process reached its culmination. I decided - as I saw street lights from outside flickering out with just the same horror - to control what I could. I closed all my windows and doors and then their blinds if possible. Right before I was able to close the last screen door, Steve Nash appeared outside the sliding door, apparently to help me.
That's right, Steve Nash.
So, yeah. I was having a horrible nightmare with apparitions haunting and then darkening my apartment, bringing my apartment slowly into total, hopeless, horrifying darkness. In the middle of this horrifying dreamscape that had consumed my apartment, diminutive point guard Steve Nash had appeared outside my door waiting to get inside. Now, Steve's chipmunk-esque face definitely had an eerie blue glow, but it was definitely Nash. I let him in without thought or care. Immediately the single light outside flickered and went out, leaving the incorporeal, nebulous, shrouded-in-black figure just 20 feet from my apartment. I slammed the door and closed the blinds. As I recall, Steve Nash didn't say anything. The few remaining lights were flickering out.
So I pushed a button on the hot tub (remember, the cauldron) which turned the unlit water into a well-lit, glowing pillar of pale blue light. This light, pale and insufficient, was the culmination of my desperate attempt to impose order on this nightmare. But in fact, this light was the start of the final unraveling of the dream. For -- as the few lights other than the cauldron's flickered into darkness, leaving its shrouded spiritual moths -- the center of the cauldron began to brew and spin, and from the center emerged this same figure rising first as random interruptions of the blue with black and then as a full, coherent figure with a totally pale face and a monstrous body that appeared to be shrouded in black clothes. I totally panicked and tried to get away from the figure, but the doors wouldn't open. Steve Nash - having an aura of blue identical to the hot-tub's - went for some reason into the cauldron and the figure consumed him into the tub. I, presumably, was next to be consumed. Paralyzed by fear, I tried in vain to get to the console and turn the cauldron's blue light off. But I couldn't.
I lay in darkness for what seemed like hours, mortified. Then the lights turned back on, Grant Hill came in through the big glass door, and he was laughing. It had all been an elaborate prank! It is important to note that he was wearing a Phoenix Suns jersey at this point. As, of course, was Steve Nash, as he left the hot tub, soaked, enjoying the spoils of the prank. Grant Hill spoke. "Haha, I can't believe you thought ghosts were real, Alex! Such a cad!" I laughed and laughed, and then I woke up, the nightmare conquered.
But then I awoke to the reality that Steve Nash (and possibly Grant Hill, as well) were going to the Lakers.
• • •
A nightmare at its essence usually takes elements of the familiar and distorts it with the unfamiliar to create the sensation of the former changing into the latter. Good horror does the same. Death honestly doesn't scare me. But the change from life to death sure does. Injuries don't scare me, as you'd learn to deal with the result. But the process of going from healthy to unhealthy in an instant of total awareness without control does scare me. Darkness doesn't scare me. But the change of light, the change from safe to unsafe, the change from familiar to unfamiliar... that scares me. Quite a lot. The nightmare I had was the distortion of empty light into inhabited darkness, of Steve Nash into vacancy and worldly vapors and death.
But the nightmare of Steve Nash - as I awoke - is now the change from Sun to Laker. A team we could root for to a team that most of us -- or at least myself -- ancestrally despise and viscerally root against. The change from Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. It turns out that -- as with LeBron -- Steve Nash without a ring is actually fundamentally different than Steve Nash with a ring. Something horrifying and grotesque and potent and assertive has to change in him (or at least the way we see him) in order for Steve Nash the Ringless to evolve into Steve Nash the Conquerer. Nothing we can do will stop it. We're not going to feel the horror of Steve Nash when he's in the West semifinals. Then it will merely be an exciting, engaging Laker team that we've lived through and become comfortable with (to whatever extent we can). No, we're feeling the pain in the transition right now, as we try to make that change from the familiar to the unfamiliar.
This is the change. This is the horror.
These are the days before dying, the blood before the clotting, the rapture before the end of time, the spinning of the handle bars before the fall, the fall before the first-aid, the three-quarter-mile of pedaling with open blood on knees and gear-shift oil in hands before the blessed oblivion of sleep. We're walking wounded in the night with zombies and friends in the distance, and from here we can't tell one from the other. Do we approach and hope for the best? Do we run and expect the worst? Or, having seen this one before, perhaps we acknowledge the nightmare, the change before us. Perhaps -- knowing there's no end to it -- we walk boldly into the night, seeking not consummation but mere merciful continuation in the pale blue street lights beside empty bars and parking lots, looking always for temporary escape and shelter.