Saturday, September 11, 2010

D is for Dreams

Have you ever had a dream that woke you up in the middle of the night? Ever had a night mare that caused you to whimper and cry in your sleep? Ever been a sleeptalker? A sleepwalker?

I've done it all.

This isn't a point that is worth bragging about. In fact, if you're a person diagnosed with sleep disorders, some of this stuff is truly disconcerting.

My parents said I had night terrors as a child. Both of my boys had them, too. Arthur's were worse and more frequent than Joren's. Everyone in this family sleep talks. It can be highly entertaining. Arthur even FaceBooked his recent sleepy exchange with me from two mornings ago when he was going on about Styrofoam when I was trying to wake him up.

I've had some super strange episodes while sleeping. I once woke up walking in north St. Paul near Como Park as the sun was rising and hitched a ride home with someone taking his bloody dog to the emergency vet on Lexington. I started to become aware of my situation more fully as I was walking back down Summit Avenue's boulevard realizing that I was in my clothing and stocking feet, no shoes, making my way back to my dorm on the Macalester campus. My socks, stiffened with dirt and completely and rigidly formed to my feet, were evidence of how long my sleep-walk had been. I was pretty freaked out about that for several weeks.

I had a strange dream when my mother's father died. I had a sense of impending doom and even commented upon it to my friend Phil on the phone the preceding day. After having a disturbing sort of evening, from which I came home early from hanging out with friends, I discovered my mother and sister at home early, too.  All of us were feeling out of sorts as we went to bed earlier than usual. We all had strange dreams and fitful sleep only to learn the news in the morning that my grandfather had died in the night.

I was then haunted by my mother's second husband on the third night after his death. He managed to die on the day between Christmas and my mother's birthday. My sister and I were on a two day Christmas visit to our father's in Illinois with my kids and we had to abandon them to hot-foot it to Florida to comfort our mother. Alan, her dead husband, visited me in the wee hours of the night in ways that were hard to miss. I came out of my sleep (or whatever state I was in) screaming bloody murder and gasping for breath. That episode was a logistical and emotional nightmare.

This premonition and post-death visitation stuff truly isn't much fun.

So last night I dreamt that I was flying in to some location for work and was curious about the person who was assigned to collect me. As I walked along, carry-on in hand, I began to recognize a Colorado college campus at the foot of a ski resort. I noticed a man sitting on the lawn to my left who stood to greet me. After a silent hug, Phil turned and walked away without speaking a word. As I tried to follow him I became completely awake and couldn't fall back to sleep. After visiting the bathroom at 4:30 in the morning, I found my sleepless self highly irritated and wondering why Phil had woken me.

Today I received a message from a mutual friend that Phil's mother had died. Phil is a high school friend with whom I haven't had much contact at all over the past 10 years. We were close in high school and during our 20s and early 30s, but we've drifted apart and lost touch in recent years. So why the hell did he wake me up last night?

And here I am, at 3:22 am, afraid to go to sleep.

Go Figure.

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