All for the love of stir-fry

I wanted to see The Dark Knight. So did everyone in my family. One of my uncles was visiting, and he and my brother made arrangements for us to see the movie in the largest city to the west of us, Greensboro. No one thought that was odd at all. My uncle said that he arranged for us to see the film at this club owned by an Asian man.

“Is it a private screening?” my mom wanted to know.

“No, it’s just a club,” my uncle replied.

So all of us — my mom, brother, Grandmother, uncle and myself (I don’t recall seeing anyone else from the family in the dream) piled up into the car and drove to this club. I don’t remember much about the drive out there…

When we arrived, we were amazed by the quality of the food. Yes, food. Apparently we were having dinner first, before the movie. The interior looked a little like a church fellowship hall, but the food was amazing. It was all Chinese, Japanese and Thai inspired. They brought the food out onto the tables, and people could come and help themselves. I ate some and then I went for seconds.

As I sat down to eat my seconds, I began to wonder if there was a stir-fry station. I am a stir-fry fanatic, and so I imagined that there had to be a stir-fry station somewhere. No sooner did I think that when my uncle sat down with a nice little ruby-colored bowl filled to the brim with — you guessed it — stir-fry. I asked where the stir-fry station was.

He said it was out the door and around the corner. “You can’t miss it!”

I didn’t know what to do with my seconds, so I put them in a styrofoam container and carried it with me out the door. I was now in a large space that was part-grocery store, part-mall and part-carnival. It was all Aisan-inspired. There were all kinds of shops and restaurants, and it was easy to get lost. Very sharp contrast from the modest fellowship hall.

I walked around, trying to find the stir-fry station. Didn’t see it anywhere. Turned a corner and saw a closed-off area in the distance. The closed off area looked like a grocery store, with lots of lettuce stacked up, and an escalator nearby. It was very dark and creepy looking. I quickly left and went in the opposite direction.

Then, for some odd reason, I somehow found my car and decided to drive over to the stir-fry station. I drove around and parked. I don’t remember too much of this part, only that I was feeling a huge sense of urgency. I had to find the station fast, because it was getting late, my family was waiting and we didn’t want to miss the movie!!

I got out of the car. I was now in an outdoor mall-slash-carnival-like area and stopped a white girl who looked like she worked there. I asked her about the stir-fry station. She said to follow her and she proceeded to lead me over a hill. As we came over the top — there it was! I could see a small hut with rounded, frosted-glass windows. I could see through the transluscent windows — there were ENORMOUS stacks of vegetables and meat, and the chefs hard at work. People were lined up with their burgundy bowls, waiting for their made-to-order stir-frys. I finally made it, yay!!

I thought it would be just a matter of going to the front of the building and opening the door, but that wasn’t the case. The “hut” turned out to be a tall building with no doors. The girl helping me said the best way to get in was to use the ladder. Then she was gone. I looked at the building and sure enough, there were two tall blue ladders leading up to the top. Weird, because the stir-fry station was on the ground floor. But I didn’t stop to think. I was a little uneasy about going on the ladder though, especially since I was still carrying my Styrofoam container. I saw a black girl climbing the ladder, and she had put her Styrofoam container on a table at the foot of the ladder. In fact, there were quite a few containers lying out there. “Who’s going to steal someone else’s container?” I wondered. So I set mine down and proceeded to climb the ladder.

The ladder was very shaky, and moved around as though it were made of rope and cloth. I was afraid of falling off, or of knocking the black girl off. But she was farther below me on the ladder. Somehow I made it to the top but could not see a way in. So I climbed down and walked around the vicinity to see if there was another way in. On the side of the building, I saw a window. Peering through it, I was looking into a side kitchen in the stir-fry room. No way in. I turned away from that and saw a bunch of people lined up in their cars, under a bridge…as though they were in a drive-thru line or something. I wondered if the stir-fry room was only accessible via drive-thru…

I walked back to the front of the building where the ladder was and saw that the black girl had gotten to the top. She swiped a card and a door opened. “HEY!” I shouted up to her. “CAN I USE YOUR CARD?!” Of course, I had forgotten that this was a club and you had to be a member! I was only visiting!!

The girl said she would leave her card in the entrance. Then she went inside. I quickly climbed back up the ladder and pulled myself up. The door at the top stayed open, and I kept wondering if it was going to suddenly close on me, like elevator doors close after a certain number of seconds. But it didn’t. I stepped inside…and unfortunately I don’t remember much. Except that I did NOT find the stir-fry room.

The next thing I remember is standing outside the building (don’t ask how I got back out). A white man with blondish hair was shouting that it was time to close and that everyone (workers and visitors) needed to pack up and leave. I stopped another white girl and told her that I really wanted to go to the stir-fry station but couldn’t find it. She led me over to the man and told him my situation. “She really likes stir-fry,” the girl concluded.

I nodded in agreement and said I was only going to be there that night, feeling kind of guilty about asking for preferential treatment.

He looked at me with curiosity when the girl said I really liked stir-fry. “Really?”

I nodded again, excited because I knew he was going to lead me over to the station. “Yes!”

He said, “you know what I think will help? This.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumbled scrap of white paper. Scrawled on it was a Bible verse. I don’t remember which book of the Bible the verse came from, but the chapter and number were 11:11. He read the verse and explained why it was so important. All the while, a young white boy and girl ran up and the boy was trying to take the paper away from the man. I had thought the man was going to give me the paper, but it seems like the paper really belonged to those children.

I told him I was having trouble getting to the stir-fry station, and he said, “Oh, you won’t have any problem with that.” And that was that. He backed away and shouted more urgently for people to close up for the day. Workers were running around, turning off lights, tearing things down. Cars were backing out of the parking lot like crazy. It was quite a scene.

And I realized then and there that I wasn’t going to have any stir-fry that night. Grrr. Guess I’d have to order something special back at home. I went to my car and buckled up, hoping my family hadn’t given up on me yet and gone on to the movie. Just then, I remembered that I had forgotten my StyroFoam container and that I would have to climb back up there to retrieve it (strange, because I put it at the bottom of the ladder, not at the top). I thought about going back up to get it, because after all it was my food, but decided not to. I was too lazy.

And…I woke up shortly afterward. It was Tuesday, July 22, 2008.

The funny thing is, this dream was almost totally inspired by events that had taken place the previous day (Monday). I’d driven out to a big mall to have dinner with some new friends from choir. We met in a part of the mall that’s outside, and had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. The Cheesecake Factory is very elaborate and over the top in almost every way possible. The dinner was delicious. The pasta I had there looked a lot like the “seconds” I got in my dream.

When I came home from dinner, I remembered that the Big Bowl restaurant had been there before the Cheesecake Factory moved in. I looked them up online and had a look at their menu. I read about their made-to-order stir-fry station. I really am a stir-fry fanatic. That’s probably what led to the setting in my dream to be Asian-inspired. I don’t fully understand why I couldn’t get to the stir-fry station, however. Strange.

And I really do want to see The Dark Knight. I haven’t yet, and we were discussing it at dinner in the Cheesecake Factory. One of these days!

Dreams are really awesome. It’s amazing how our minds can take ordinary events that happen to us during the day and weave them into fantastical stories by night, seemingly without any effort. I will explore this some more in future posts!

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