Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Walking in Troubled Dreams

This morning, after David's alarm went off, I almost immediately fell back into a deep sleep. (This is odd for me - I usually just doze for another hour, but, it isn't deep, restful sleep.) But, this morning, I fell back to sleep and smack into the middle of a dream I've had several times during my adult life. I wouldn't say it happens often enough to call it "recurring" - but, it is a dream I've had before, several times.

In the dream, I am three years old. I am walking beside a lake with my father and my god-father, whose name is Bruce. It is 1975, and they are dressed accordingly, like the post-flower children they were. Their green sharp-collared shirts throb like pulses of electricity run through them. One of them is smoking a cigar. My three-year-old fingers hold tight to their hands, the shore of the lake is rocky and sandy and unfamiliar beneath my legs.

Abruptly, a plane appears, and it is red and covered in black crosses. My adult mind recognizes it as a plane from the book Snoopy and the Red Baron, which was one of my favorite books when I was young, but, not as young as three.

There is a sound like car-backfiring, and the plane bursts into an enormous fireball and falls into the lake.

And my father scoops me up, and we are running, running - first towards the lake, then suddenly away from it. We run and run until we reach a road and my father and my god-father are saying quick, troubled things to eachother in loud voices, and my god-father is flagging down a car.

And my father is running with me, away from Bruce, away from the car, away from the lake. We are running towards a pop-up trailer camper, and he opens the door and hands me to my Aunt Kay, my mother's sister, who is holding my cousin Melanie, still a baby, in a towel. My father says something to Kay in a quiet, hurried, frightened tone. He turns and leaves. "Come with me to the bathroom," my aunt says. "Melanie needs a bath." The words sound disembodied, but, I know they are Kay's words. We walk to a campground bathroom, and I watch my aunt bathe my baby cousin in the sink. "I wish I was small," I say, "small enough to fit into the sink."

That's it. I woke up. Sweaty, with a feeling of...something like sadness.

The dream is mostly true. I think.

In 1975, when I was three years old, my father, my god-father and I witnessed a plane crash in northern Michigan, where we were camping. My father believes the memories I have of the crash are pieced together from being told ABOUT the incident, and not the incident itself, and I think he is partly, but not entirely, right. The plane, according to my father and Bruce, was gray or white, not red. And certainly not covered with black crosses. It did not burst into flames, it did not explode. The engine was whining and loud when we first saw it, and the pilot had clearly lost control, and it's decsent into the lake, while terrifying for my father and Bruce to watch, was not fiery. There were four people on the plane and all of them died. We did run towards the crash at first, but, when my father and uncle realized that the wreckage was too bad for anyone to have survived, they ran up to the road to flag down help. My father took me back to our campsite and then returned to the site of the crash. He swears that they neither he nor Bruce was smoking a cigar. Obviously neither of them was actually wearing an electric shirt. My father says he handed me to my mother, not my aunt, although he thinks that my aunt was there, (and my father was in a state of distress) and my mother and my aunt look an awful lot a like - but, not so much that my three-year-old self couldn't tell the difference*. He doesn't know if Kay was headed to the bathroom to give Melanie a bath in the sink.

The dream, when it has happened, has not always been exactly this way. But, it always ends with the sink, the bath, and my wish to be small. Which is why I think that the bath is probably the truest part of the dream. I think it is apparent that my subconscious mind has painted the plane red, covered in black crosses, to represent the tragedy that is about to occur. My three-year-old self had little concept of death - my adult mind realizes that what is about to happen is tragic and horrifying. I can read all kinds of things into my statement, my wish to be small. I can interpret this wish in many ways now, mostly having to do with my feelings of frustration regarding my body. Although, I think at the time, I really was wishing, without any subtext, simply to be small enough to take a bath in the sink with Melanie.

It's still a hell of a way to start the morning, walking in troubled dreams of 32 year old catastrophe.

*They do look enough alike that when Gabe was about three, he confused Kay with my mother, sidled up to her to be snuggled, and it wasn't until he was RIGHT UP IN HER LAP that it occured to him she wasn't his grandma. After his initial shock about it (Kay lives very far away, so, we only see her maybe once a year), he took to calling her, "other Grandma."


Anonymous Christina said...

That is a freaky dream, I was amazed at the detail until you said it really happened - just shows how memories can imprint themselves on even very young minds. Makes me wonder what Zeeb will remember in his dreams.
I wonder if you tend to have this dream/memory when you are feeling overwhelmed?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger niobe said...

What a horrifying thing for a child to witness -- and for an adult to relive in her dreams.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 8:12:00 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

I would say you should check out dreamdoctor.com and have them look at this dream. Trying to figure out what it means....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 7:00:00 AM  

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