by JT Ellison
I had a familiar dream this week – one that’s really a recurring nightmare. I’m at the beach, in Florida, and the waves are just overwhelmingly big – fifteen footers. I’m out on my board, struggling to keep it from getting away and allowing my leash drag me under. When they break, I dive in early, and it feels like I’m underwater for a very long time before I break the surface. They come in so quickly that I’m swept under over and over, and it’s kind of fun, until I see the big one in the distance. I’m suddenly out of the water, on the boardwalk, watching this massive wall of water coming toward me. I never know for sure if I’m far enough away, but ultimately the water comes within a few feet of me, then spills away.
I’ve had this dream so often that I can manipulate it while I’m in it, adjusting the length of time I think the big waves are fun, moving to various points up and down a two-mile stretch of beach. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m going to make the boardwalk in time, other nights the waves are smaller, more manageable.
I had the dream Monday night, and on Tuesday, I saw this story. Now, talk about freaky coincidences. I’m dreaming about tidal waves while one is hitting Maine. And it’s totally unexplained? That’s the big problem in my dream, there’s absolutely no reason for these waves to be so damn big! And it’s happened before – many times, really. So my dream is based in reality, which makes me a little nervous. Because my dreams? They have a tendency to come true.
My mom used to dream about tidal waves in her childhood beach destination, and one eventually came in to Sea Isle City, New Jersey in the form of a hurricane that wiped out a lot of the area. Kind of creepy that I’ve inherited her nightmare, huh?
About two months ago, right before I was due to turn in EDGE OF BLACK, I had an airplane crash dream. I’ve never, ever dreamt about plane crashes before. I started flying when I was an infant, had a frequent flier card when I was a teenager, and eventually ended up working for a sub-contractor to the FAA. I LOVE airplanes. I LOVE flying. So I was especially freaked out by the dream. We were over a city and banking right, then just started going down amid the skyscrapers. Happily, at the last minute we pulled up and skimmed the ground, and I woke up. I had a second one two weeks ago. This time it was a Lear jet, we were flying over a ski resort and went down at the top, skidding our way down the treacherous slopes in a ridiculous parody of Lear jet giant slalom.
It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to recognize these are anxiety dreams. I started having them when I was a little girl. For my fifth birthday, my parents took me to Blinky’s Fun Club, a television show in Denver starring Blinky the Clown. Being utterly scared by the knowledge that I was on television, I did what any intelligent child who has self-preservation in mind would do – I picked my nose. Blinky "Bastard Son of Satan’s Spawn" the Clown popped up (clowns have a tendency to do that, pop out of nowhere) and YELLED at me. Cue crying, screaming, begging, and a lifelong fear of clowns.
The jerk also cemented my original anxiety dream – I’m sitting in a darkened television studio and hear a slithering, scaly crawling. I turn and come face to face with a giant stuffed purple snake with massive green polka dots, who looks at me with it’s slitted eyes then undulates away through the studio. I still have that dream. And it freaks me out every time.
I’ve never had the typical naked at school type of dream. Mine have to have some random element of creativity to them, at least. I dream in color, and they’re so damn real. I’ve been known to wake up furious at Randy and snarl at him for a day because he’s cheated on me or left me.
But the worst are the serial killer dreams. And I have those a lot. Whether it’s knives and chasing, or just locking eyes with someone who I realize means me harm, I wake up breathless and panicked. I get up, lock the bedroom door and try to think about other things so I can go back to sleep. Because I can wake up from a dream, get up in the middle of the night, walk around, shake it off, go back to sleep and pick up where I left off. It’s not a nice talent.
It’s funny, the purple snake dream can be just as menacing as being chased by a serial killer.
There’s not much I can do to alter the way my subconscious works through my issues. I’m a dreamer, in every sense of the word. Hell, I dreamed the entire plot of ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, start to finish. Man, I wish I could do that more often. I’m not an edgy kind of person during the daylight hours. It’s when darkness falls that I get jumpy. I just don’t know what the night will bring.
So what about you? Do you have anxiety dreams? Are they straightforward, or kooky? And do you have recurring dreams? What’s your trademark nightmare?
Wine of the Week: 2006 Michaud "3" Chalone Red Blend
UPDATE: Wanna see what my waves look like? Click here and read this.