I’m a champion sleeper, and, as it turns out, dreamer. I dream in vivid color, about people from my past and present, and many who are completely fabricated. I can speak foreign languages in my dreams. I can grow my hair out in seconds. I can touch a book and know everything inside of it. I can change the weather. I can protect whoever I want from whatever I need to.
But I cannot: fly, remember how to play the trombone, run normally, gather together everything I need to play in my field hockey game, travel to other countries, move through walls, talk to animals, eat anything, type, or find the classroom in which I’m supposed to be taking a test. I can still find my locker, though.
I can control my dreams, make them unfold the way I want them to, and am completely cognizant as they do. For example, I have a recurring dream in which I am at a river that is full of gold coins and I believe that whatever gold I can gather will still be in my arms when I awake. Each time I have this dream, I try a different way of holding the gold, as if it might actually help. Similarly, I am sometimes stuck inside a mall after hours and have the knowledge that whatever clothing I am holding when I wake up will be mine. In that particular dream, I always choose to leave with nothing. They call this “lucid dreaming” and I’ve been doing it my entire life.
I feel things in dreams as deeply as in real life, happiness, with laughter, and profound sadness the two emotions I can wake up still feeling. A particularly good or bad dream can sit with me all day long, and sometimes into the following day. If Guy has wronged me in a dream, I truly have a hard time getting past it, much to his sweet dismay.
I love dreaming. It’s the main reason I love waking up early and then willing myself back to sleep: dreams are most memorable then.
But, as Guy can attest, I have nightmares almost as often as I do pleasant images floating around in this here brain. I mean, I’m not accidentally killing my children much in my sleep these days, which is nice. Nor am I being shot in the back, which is sometimes part of a movie, and sometimes my actual life, and something I’ve experienced in my sleep more times than I can count. (Is it at all interesting that I do not ever die of these wounds? I feel the pain, and then, like that silver mercury guy in Terminator 2, I just gather myself up, and keep right on with whatever’s going on.)
I’m also avoiding the horrors of almost-drowning (but don’t worry, I always realize I can breathe under water) and I haven’t lately been swept up into the sky by that gigantic red umbrella I can’t seem to just let go of. That dream stopped around the time I had children, so maybe my feet are more firmly planted these days; hell, I don’t know.
Nowadays, anyway, and for many months now, there are these houses in my dreams- enormous houses, which seem very familiar and yet do not ever belong to me (though sometimes the house is the house I grew up in, so, go figure.) They have several floors, more like a hotel, and always half floors too, whatever those are, which have very low ceilings and secret passages. There are always stunning staircases in these houses – wide and sweeping, and long, long hallways with too many doors to count. Really, these places could more accurately be called ornate castles. They are beautiful, alluring, enormous, and, as I said, familiar.
And every single one of them is terrifyingly, absolutely haunted.
The thing haunting them is never something I can see, but it can mess with the lights, sweep me up so I’m sort of flying around, throw things around the rooms, make everything dark and scary, move doors so I can’t reach the ones I want to, and talk. When it speaks, it says things that are childish, like goading remarks one might hear a 4 year old bully say: why don’t you just go away! and you want scary, I’ll show you scary! If the dreams weren’t so alarming and horrifying, they’d be funny. I assure you, they don’t seem funny when I’m waking up and confusing those houses with my very own house here on Cedar Street.
Some people believe dreams and nightmares have meaning, that we have entire realms of unconscious knowing occurring while we sleep. You can google “meaning of dreams” and spend an entire Sunday afternoon, even missing crucial parts of Patriots playoff games, not that I admit I did that, researching theory, if you so choose. There’s no shortage of opinions on this topic. Scientists don’t particularly agree on the details, but in general, think dreaming is something our brain does rather than a.) shut down completely or b) make us go insane, you know, while we sleep.
I might argue that dreaming is pretty close to insanity, if what we think of as sanity is our reality. I mean, things can get pretty messed up in your brain in the wee hours of the morning when you’re at your sister’s wedding and your teeth have fallen out, and the waves on the shore are depositing red rose petals up onto the rocks. And you know you don’t have a sister, but there she is, asking you to hold her belt that is made of shards of glass and bits of something that looks like legos.
Non-scientists only agree that dreams have meaning: not on what the meaning is. If things in dreams are just symbolic, well, there’s no real consistency in agreement there, either. Case in point: using info I found online, it’s possible that I, myself, am the house. Because it is a mansion, and beautiful, I could be in a period of growth, or rebuilding. Because it has many rooms, I have many facets to my personality, some I can access, and some I cannot. Because it has secret passages, I have secrets to keep hidden, or to reveal, as the case may be. Because it is haunted I have issues: from childhood? in a relationship? to hide? I have not yet reckoned.
And because it has half floors, I am, obviously, beyond anyone’s understanding of anything. Which, I’m not gonna lie, might just be right.
In any case, I find sleeping endlessly lovely, and dreaming endlessly fascinating. Do any of you have dreams, particularly recurring ones? If so, what do you think they mean, if anything at all? Does it benefit us in any way to understand this phenomenon?