“I still get nightmares. In fact, I get them so often I should be used to them by now. I’m not. No one ever really gets used to nightmares.” – Mark Z. Danielewski
I have always had really vivid dreams. I cannot remember a time when this has not been the case. When I was a kid I dreamed lovely things, I dreamed scary things, and I dreamed things that confused me. The point is I dreamed and could almost always recall the dream when I woke.
I have had this recurring dream…maybe nightmare… since I was probably seven or eight. I used to dream this same dream frequently as a kid and teenager. It doesn’t happen nearly as often anymore but once in a while, it’s there. I’m at home (my parents home) and my grandma calls. So, I walk to her house and her house is decorated like it was when I was young. Typical 1980s décor – brown couch, funny phone. She bought new furniture as I grew, but the dream never acknowledged these changes. Anyway, while I’m at my grandma’s house, her phone rings. She answers it and tells me my mom wants to talk to me. While I am on the phone, my mom tells me she has been looking everywhere for me and that I need to get home immediately. So, what does a young girl in a small town do? I take the long way home, slowly strolling around the block. I’m about half-way around the block, when I hear these noises behind me. I glance back and see a whole bunch of bears following me. Now, these are not the nice bears from cartoons. These are “I’m going to rip your face off when I catch you” bears. I run home faster than I ever have before. I slam the front door and lock it, all while yelling for my mom. She appears and I tell her that there are bears following me and I start freaking out. My mom tells me that is why she called me to come home. There are bears everywhere. I look out into the backyard and there are bears out there too. I start to hear banging on the front door and I start screaming. My mom ushers us downstairs and has us hide behind all of the Halloween decorations. She tells me to be really quiet and that everything will be fine – that the bears won’t be able to find us there. I feel like I am hardly breathing. After a while, everything is quiet. I come out from my hiding place and run into this woman that I have never seen before. I ask her who she is and why she is in my house. She just looks at me and says this was her house before it was ever my house. This is about the time when I wake up. I recall asking my mom, when I was a kid, if there had ever been a house on that piece of land before my parents house. She told me no. I was convinced that our house was haunted….and I’m still slightly convinced that there is something that lives in the basement.
Last night I had a nightmare. This nightmare is the reason for the season, so to speak. It is the reason that I am writing this post. First, some background. I love to hike for many reasons. I have been unable to hike since this past August. I hurt my knee and have been working with a doctor on getting it back to a point where I can hike this coming spring/summer/fall. So far, no go. Anyway, to the dream.
I was hiking with a group of people. We had decided to do this one specific hike because it could be done in just a few hours. It was strenuous but doable. Well, we start out and the group gets separated. I end up hiking with just one other person. We were struggling. We lost our map and could not make any sense out of the trail markings. The trail seemed to be uphill and muddy A LOT. The sun started going down and we had not made it even to the half-way point. We found a hotel of sorts. It was lodging, at least. The owners of this place told us that we could stay in this one room but we would have to share it with a couple of other people that were passing through. We made it through the night and wanted to get an early start so we could make it home. As we started to gather our things, one of these other lodgers attacks our “roommate.” He starts banging her head against the floor – until there is not much to see beside blood. He then flees. My hiking partner and I start freaking out thinking this was going to be blamed on us. This couldn’t be happening. So, we cleaned up the room, hid the body, and took off. We figured the further we got away, the less likely they would be able to pin this on us. This is where I woke up. This dream has been with me all day.
I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that dreams mean specific things. I think that dreams and nightmares are our brains way of dealing with fragmented pieces of information. Our brain is trying to sort things out and put together the abstracted pieces of meaning in our lives.
I don’t know what it means that I have these detailed, vivid dreams. I have not met anyone that can match these nighttime visions. Most people I talk with rarely remember their dreams, if they even admit to having them. All I know is that there are some nights when I panic at the thought of sleep. Sleep can be rough and scary, at times. Let’s just hope that tonight holds only pleasant dreams for both me and all of you. Fingers crossed.