I’ve lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee for most of my life and I like the city–it’s large enough to have everything that a mid-size city should have (attractions, businesses, etc.), but not so large that it is impossible to move around and get things done in a timely manner. It is familiar.
However, being the Fantasy/Science Fiction writer that I am, I tend to dream about Chattanooga being a more fantastic place than it already is–or perhaps I should say, “fantastical.” I’ve noticed that I tend to dream of the city and when I incorporate it into my dreams, the results seem to mirror the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in some respects.
A particular theme of my dreams when I incorporate the city is the idea that I’m looking for something, well, in a word . . . fantastical. There is an element akin to something like Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, where it looks real, but in fact harbors the Strange and the Wonderful. Another thing that I’ve noticed is that I always seem to be looking for some artifact in the dreams about the city. I either find it and it is the best thing ever, or I go into the “dream world” remembering where it was and I’m always trying to find it again somehow, but (usually) it isn’t there anymore. Dream interpreters, make of that what you will–I have my own thoughts about that however.
One dream that I can remember clearly where this happens is a dream that I’ve had at least twice since I was a child. McCallie Avenue is a major artery into the city (downtown area). When I was a child it was even more so as it was four lanes into the downtown area (about 14-15 years ago they changed it to a two-way in & two-way out to accommodate the increased college expansion on the other side of McCallie.) When it was a 4 lane there was a small store/deli at the very terminus of the road where it split going to the left and the right. Now in real life, I’ve never been in that deli/store, but it looks like a 1 story construction. In my dream it was two stories and underneath was this mall-like area and there was a store that sold the most amazing things. What were they? I don’t know–can’t remember that part of the dream, but the impression was that they were awesome. I made a promise to myself that I would come back and then I woke up.
Sometime later, I did dream that same dream, but when I went down to that area, and the “mall” area was still there, but the store that sold the “amazing” things? Gone. Nowhere to be found. But, I would find it again . . .
Something else that I’ve noticed is the way my mind constructs the Dream Chattanooga. It seems to meld places together. As a child, my parents used to take my “around the mountain” to Tiftonia to buy fireworks. Now, there’s no way to get there from Navajo Dr (a street off of Brainerd Rd and S. Germantown), but in my Dream Chattanooga there is and it will lead to this most amazing group of stands and stalls. Imagine a farmer’s market, but instead of fruits and vegetables, you have trinkets, magic books, amulets, and the most amazing collection of fantastical “stuff” that you can think of. This is where my store had gone.
Again, one night I found myself dreaming and on this same fictional road so I remember my dream-self saying, “Okay, let me see if I can find this store again.” And I drove down the road, but where it should have been, it wasn’t. And I continued to drive and drive, but could not find it again in that spot.
So this “store” has popped up in many different locations all around the “dream city of Chattanooga.” From a fictional “bookstore” located at the base of the McCallie Tunnels where the road splits and allows you to get on to Dodds Ave (there is no real bookstore there), to a fictional merging of Red Bank and Dodds Avenue where it appeared as a “superstore” (these two areas are on the opposite sides of the city.)
As late as two or three weeks ago, I dreamed of the store again. It was on a fictional hill that is an amalgamation the “Ridge-cut” in the city along with Shallowford Rd blended with St. Elmo community. All of these places are nowhere near each other (although St. Elmo and the Ridge-cut areas are not too terribly far from one another now that I think of it.)
I’m writing this post for a couple of reasons. 1) I wanted to get this down in a fixed form because I’d like to write a story that features this “amazing store” in some way. This idea of a “fantastical store” that disappears and reappears is appealing to me, and 2) to show that story ideas come from the unlikeliest of places. I don’t know why my mind amalgamates streets and neighborhoods in the city like it does, or why when I revisit places in the dreams, the “amazing” things that I’m looking forward are no longer there. I don’t know what any of this means, but I’m hoping that a story about might help me to figure it all out.
Chattanooga natives will probably know where all these areas are, but if you’re reading this blog and you’re lost, I’d just google or google map some of these names and it will give you an idea of the places mentioned in this post. 🙂
- McCallie Ave. (Across from the Memorial Auditorium)
- McCallie Ave. (Dodds Ave)
- Navajo Rd
- Red Bank
- St. Elmo
- Brained Rd
- Shallowford Rd
- The Ridge-Cut