I am a dreamer. Not in the Martin Luther King Jr. sense, but in the Alice in Wonderland sense. I dream every night, always remembering at least bits immediately after I wake.
I learned to interpret my dreams in college, after one particular dream disturbed me so much I couldn’t stop talking about it until someone was able to tell me the obvious. Nothing prophetic, just common psychology. And I must say, my subconscious is an interesting place to be. Downright frightening sometimes.
I don’t have nightmares. Not in the conventional sense, anyway. I haven’t woken frightened since I was very young. On the other hand, scary things are constantly happening while my synapses do their random firing at night. If you had to rate my dreams like movies, they would come in at an easy R, which is very strange because I live a very PG life. Not even PG-13, just plain ol’ PG.
When I was very little, I had a dream that scared me for years. It even had a title: “Laura and the Wolf.” I can remember it to this day, though I suspect I’ve fabricated transitions to bridge the gaps, and my invented parts have become every bit as real as memory. This is the dream that used to cause me to run and jump into bed after the lights were out, because even though there were no monsters-under-the-bed in this dream, I knew that was where all monsters lived.
I was either three or four years old when I had this dream, and I still remember. It went like this:
It was bedtime and my mother asked if I wanted to hear a bedtime story. Of course I did! It was called “Laura and the Wolf.” And so she began telling me the story, and as she did, it was no longer a bedtime story, but a story I was part of.
Once upon a time, there was a Wolf, and he wanted to eat something for dinner. A sheep, maybe. There was a tall, grass-covered hill, and he began to walk down the hill, looking for something to eat. He walked on his two hind legs, and he was wearing pants. I knew he would eat me if he couldn’t find a sheep, so I ran away from the swing set in my back yard, where I had been playing.
I ran to the neighbors’ yard, where they were having dinner outside. Their whole dining room was outside, complete with a big, heavy wooden table. I hid under the table and peeked out from behind one of the carved legs. I could see the Wolf by the swingset. He began to come my direction.
I ran away again, down into the next neighbor’s yard. They knew the Wolf was coming so everyone went into the house and ran upstairs, into a room that was all white, and locked the door. There were a lot of people there, and none of them seemed very worried, even when the Wolf began banging on the door. They decided to escape through the window, but they forgot me, and I couldn’t get out.
The door banged open and there was the Wolf. He was no long actually an animal, but a young boy who was probably 7 or 8 years old. He was a mean, evil boy, dressed in a black shirt and brown shorts. He had a friend with him. The friend held onto me, and the Wolf pulled a syringe out of his pocket and gave me a shot. Then he made me put on his ugly clothes and he ran away.
I went home. My father met me at the front door of our house. He told me I never had to wear the ugly clothes again.
This dream started in Yellowstone, where I lived for the first three years of my life, and wound up in Virginia, where we lived for half a year when I was four. That’s how I know how old I was when I had this dream. I’m sure I was still living in Virginia at the time. It’s hard to see what is scary about it, but I assure you, at the time it was terrifying.
The wolf started out as the wolf from Disney’s Peter & the Wolf, who I thought was the most terrifying thing ever. I used to have to hide my eyes when he jumped out.
I also see a pattern of other things. I found the idea of wolves, shots, being left alone, and boys in ugly clothing to be frightening. Tables, on the other hand, were my safe place. I used to hide under our dining room table all the time. And my daddy could make everything right.
Life, and my dreams along with it, has become more complicated the older I get. I’ll share some of the other really good ones another time.