Do you dream much? I do. My dreams are something of a standing joke between John and I. Whether it’s a function of my biology or my sleep schedule or some occult genetic gift (that was a joke, Mom), I often wake up with vivid memories of long and insane dreams that stick with me through the day. They play across the emotional spectrum from hilarious to horrifying and the horrifying ones don’t go away easily. I’m really not sure if my Telly Monster personality is what makes the bad ones hang around or whether it’s the clinging bad dreams that have turned me into a Telly Monster, but I’ve been dreaming like this for as long as I can remember.
Possibly the most vivid dream I have ever had was when I was in oh, fourth or fifth grade, I guess. I was in Girl Scouts for a short time, and I’m pretty sure the dream was concurrent with that experience because in the dream, my mother was baking a pickle cake for my troop. I had discovered a tiny spark of fire in my bedroom closet and called my parents. Instead of putting the flame out or even calling the fire department, my dream-parents started packing to move. For some reason, and essential part of this move was baking a pickle cake for my Girl Scout troop. The dream ended disjointedly with me being tied to a chair in the kitchen, covered in spiders, while the house slowly burned down around my ears.
It was a bit traumatizing, to say the least.
The first time John learned about my crazy, half-lucid dreams was when I woke him up in the middle of the night, sobbing hysterically because I had just dreamed about someone in my family dying. I had been dream-visiting a hotel with my mother, my aunt and uncle, and my grandmother and grandfather and the place was a complete maze. We couldn’t find each other in the dining room, so my mother sent me to go find the others. The concierge ended up directing me outside, where I walked down this long and eerily quiet path in the woods to a mossy green clearing. My grandmother was outside the trailer, crying, and I didn’t want to go into the trailer, because I knew on some horrible level that I would find someone dead inside. Sure enough, the concierge came along the path, only she was a funeral director, and she made me go into the trailer. It was blue inside and as cold as a refrigerator but instead of finding a trailer’s insides, there was a small stone chapel and my grandmother was sitting alone at the front, crying.
I woke up with tears running down my face from that one, woke John up to reassure me that it was just a dream. When I dream like that, it takes me a few minutes to sort the dream events from reality, which is far from easy when you’re half asleep.
I dreamed last night of an old friend who died a few years back. He was never a close friend, but he was one of those people I had known since we were pretty young kids. I don’t know if it gets easier as you get older, but I had a hard time with believing this friend was gone in the first place. My generation is still supposed to be young and immortal, you know? In my dream, scattered among seriously disturbing events like the death of my husband and my parents’ imprisonment for credit card fraud, this friend was bright and alive and generally the sort of person I suppose he’d have grown into. When I woke up, it was easy to laugh off the bit about my parents committing any financial crime and not too difficult to reassure myself that John was still alive. It wasn’t so easy, however, to remember that my friend isn’t out there growing into an adult, as I am.
By the morning light, my post-dream disorientation feels silly. Dreams are only dreams, neh? All the same, I’d take my dreams while a smaller dose of realistic syrup if anyone made the offer.