Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Return of the Recurring Dream

Why does it seem like my body and my dreams sometimes conspire against me?

I know everyone has experienced this. You’re having a bad dream and you finally manage to claw your way out of it. There’s that momentary wash of relief and then your body says, Ha, ha….got you!, and sends you spiraling back into an unconscious state. Once there, of course, you find that the monsters were just on a smoke break and are more than ready for your return.

Of course, if you’re having a good dream – for instance, you’re just about to cut Mr. Dewey’s class to go to The Max with the gang – and the alarm goes off, not only does it pull you from the dream, but you’ve never been that awake in your life. You try to fool yourself, pretend you’re still sleeping (See, mind? I’m still asleep. It’s okay. You can send me back to the dream. Send me back! Please?). But no matter what you do, there is no way you’re getting your geometrically decorated cropped shirt and scrunchie back.

Then there’s the recurring nightmare. Not only does no amount of waking up actually help you escape it, but you know what’s going to happen before it does and you still can’t convince yourself it isn’t real. As a child, mine was always the Wicked Witch of the West. Not surprising, since I knew she was sending her guards after me. Anyway, the dream would go like this:

I awaken in my darkened room, knowing something is amiss. I scan the perimeter from the safety of my top bunk. No one is there. I start to release a sigh of relief when I see her. Standing in the far corner of the room, the moonlight glints dimly off her malevolent eyes. I would know that green face anywhere. The Witch!

I don’t bother using the ladder. Time is of the essence. I jump from the bunk bed, propelling myself to the door. I must warn the others!

I make it downstairs to my parents’ bedroom. For reasons that I don’t have time to figure out, my entire family is there. I yell at them to run. She’s coming! There’s no time for explanations. Just get out of the house! They heed my warning. I wait until the last one has left and go to follow.

A green hand shoots out from under the bed, grabbing my ankle. I scream and fall to the ground. Looking up I see that, it’s too late. The Witch stands over me. Her black robes flowing in the sudden wind gusts that are spinning around the bedroom. She cackles. Her hands reach towards me –

And then I’d wake up. Like clockwork. It never failed. I had that dream over and over and over again. No variations.

My sister had a strikingly similar dream, only her villain was a giant gorilla, which is very strange as she always really liked gorillas. Another small difference was that when she would yell at the family to run, I would laugh at her. Circling back to the whole me being a dream jerk issue.

Eventually, we both got past these dreams and went on to be (arguably) normal, well-adjusted adults. I realized that the Wicked Witch wasn’t really all that bad. I’d probably be ticked off too if someone stole the shoes off of my dead relative. I also came to understand that Glinda wasn’t all that good. Not only did she facilitate the pre-grave robbing, but the whole “You wouldn’t have believed me” thing? You could have at least made the attempt, lady. Saved everyone a whole lot of trouble. But no, you and the wizard were too busy conspiring to make Dorothy into a pre-pubescent hit man. Not cool, Glinda. Not cool.

Not that any of this is the point I’m trying to make here. My point is, I got over the nightmare….or so I thought.

Last night, for the first time in over fifteen years, the Witch came for me again. And it was exactly the same. Same bunk beds, same yellow paneling on the wall, same hand reaching out from under my parents’ bed.

Twice I woke up and twice I was sucked back in to where it was apparently playing on loop. And let me tell you, adult me is no more calm, cool and collected, than kid me was.

As a side note, though, pretty sure I was wearing footie pajamas, proving that there really is a silver lining to every cloud.

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