the dreaming life
the dreaming life
I just woke up from another one of those dreams which is nothing more than a conglomeration of all my other recurring dreams.
It's not so much that the dreams repeat themselves. It's the scenarios. Or the particular settings.
When I was very young, I used to dream of plane crashes frequently. It was always the same - a 747 or some other jumbo type jet would crash into our street, crushing homes and killing almost everyone I knew.
When I was in junior high school, the water dreams started. Often, the dream would take place at my aunt's house. I would be walking through a hallway and suddenly the water would come rushing in. I would swim the murky water, trying to find my way to fresh air. I would eventually surface, but always in the same place. As my head came up out of the water, I would find myself in the middle of a wide, angry ocean. Alone.
There were other water dreams that came more frequently and still persist today. I am either on a roller coaster or a highway. I realize, too late, that part of the track or the road is submerged underwater. Most of the dream is a slow motion nightmare as I approach the water. Sucking in my breath, trying not to cry, trying not to let my fear show to whoever is with me. There are always people with me, and they are always oblivious to the fact that we are about to drown.
Then there are the school dreams. Almost everyone has them. You have forgotten that you have a test today. You can't find your schedule, your classroom, your locker. Or it's the end of the semester and you realize you haven't gone to class yet. For me, these dreams always take place in the same school. It's not a school I ever attended in waking life, nor is any part of it familar in any way. But I have memorized the building. So now, when I have a school dream, I am able to use my past dreams to remember where things are. I know teachers names and locker combinations and room numbers. I even know where the bathrooms are. The scenery never changes from dream to dream. The only thing that changes is the plot.
I have a lot of dreams that take place in a huge hotel. Again, the basis of the dream is different each time, but the hotel itself never changes. Sometimes, in one of the hotel dreams, I will greet the desk clerk by name and ask how he has been since the last time I dreamed him.
There is a stairwell in this hotel, and in many of these dreams I am running away from someone or something. I find myself crawling up the stairs, trying to find the right door to escape out of. After all the years of having this place show up in my dreams, I know. I know that the door on the first floor leads to a fire and the door on the seventh floor leads to water and the door on the tenth floor leads to a bar not unlike the one in The Shining.
Sometimes in my dreams I will come across the same people from other dreams. These aren't people I know in real life. I have no name for them. But they are there often enough so that I recognize the one guy by his hunting coat and the other guy by his oversized head and the little girl by her party dress. There's that one guy - with the green, slimy hair - that's always trying to give me advice. And there's the motherly type figure who tries to offer me cookies as I pass her on the road.
Oh, the road. There's this dirt road that is in almost every dream I have. The road passes through some woods, at the end of which there is a beautiful farmhouse. I've never gone in the house. Never even approached it. I just stare at it and wait for someone to come out and invite me in. After a few minutes, when no such person materializes, I head back out for the road, on my way to another dream.
Sometimes, when I do have the same exact dream twice, I feel as if I've been given another chance to fix whatever went wrong the last time. I can manipulate what happens, take different roads, say different things, avoid certain pitfalls. Sometimes, the man with the big head will come out and congratulate me if I avoid a previous nightmare by changing the dream.
I wonder what makes these strange characters appear again and again. I wonder what the farmhouse means and if I ever will open up every door on that stairwell.
I wonder what dreams really are. Sometimes I think they are another existence, another life of ours. And then sometimes the practical side of me says that dreams are just our brain dumping out excess thoughts from the day.
I'd like to believe there is something mystical about the life I lead in the middle of the night.