Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Welcome to My (Recurring) Nightmare

It's hot.  I'm sitting on my Jaws beach towel in the grass.  I smell Coppertone Suntan lotion.  It's noisy;  kids of all ages screaming with delight. Charleston Chew wrappers in chocolate and strawberry litter my towel.  Splashing.  Sounds of people jumping into water.  I sip my soda.  It's in a red Coca-Cola cup.  The ice has melted, leaving a clear layer on top.  I drink it anyway.  I finish it.  I burp, and my friends I'm with giggle.  My shoulder are burning.  I need to cool off.  I get up and head for the pool.

I walk quickly, as "Adult Swim" is fast approaching.  The lifeguard - yeah, that really cute one with the blue trunks - puffs on his whistle, reminding me to slow down.  I peer at him and feel my face grow even hotter.  I'm blushing.  I look down at the pavement, grinning.  I look at my friends still sitting in the grass.  They too, are stifling giggles.  I continue walking.  

The water's blue hue slowly changes to a deeper blue as I approach the 'well' - the deep end.  Ten feet.  I just want to dive in, cool off, and return to my friends.  I approach the diving board.  I get a chill as I think about how refreshing the cold water will be when it touches my hot shoulders; first that horrible shock, then it's replaced by such a welcome coolness.  I can't wait!

I reach out and grab the silver rail.  As I step onto the rough board, I take a deep breath.  My friends are waving to me from across the pool.  I wave back, then suddenly stop as the Cute Lifeguard sees me.  I stop waving.  I feel stupid.  The Cute Lifeguard looks away; bored.  

I let go of the rail.  I look across the still blue water.  This area is for divers, only so the water is still.  I see my reflection dance beneath me.  I stretch, and circle my arms a few times.  I hear my friends.  

"Jump!  C'mon, Jump!"  I look at them watching me.  Suddenly, I see something out of the corner of my eye.  Something shiny.  I look down, and try to find it.  It's gone.  Then, as suddenly as it disappeared, it appeared, again.  A very bright glimmer from within the water.

  'What is that!?'  I bend forward, trying to see it more clearly. 

There, sitting on the edge of the pool drain was a silver dollar! WOW!  Now, my unease about the cold water has gone.  I quickly prepare to dive, still watching the silver dollar dance in the water.  I had to have it.  I put my arms out ahead of me, bend my body and push my legs.  As the board springs back up, my feet leave the board.  I don't care what my dive looks like;  I just want to get into the water, now.  

My head breaks through and for an instant, I forget about my quest, instead I am now ice cold.  My burned shoulders are suddenly quelled.  By the time my body reacts to the cold, it's already embracing it. It feels perfect; like I was again inside my mother's womb.  An odd sense of absolute perfection.

I push my body through the water, feeling ripples of coolness caress me; then, I suddenly remember the silver dollar and kick my legs and use my hands to push my body downward.  It was hard to see, and I wish I had used my goggles (Couldn't let the Cute Lifeguard see me in geeky goggles, now could I).  I finally see the drain coming into focus.  I locate the silver dollar.   My heart leaps.  "It's mine!  Wait'll they see!"  I swim closer.  I see that the silver dollar is just resting on the edge of the pool drain, so I slow my hands down so as to not cause the current to disturb it.  

I am inches away from it. It is gleaming so brightly!   I reach out and just as my fingers are about to touch it, the current pushes it into the drain.  I immediately swim closer.  The grates on the drain were wide enough for me to put my fingers into.  The silver dollar now rested at the bottom of the drain, but it was only a few inches deep.  I could still get it!  

I thrust my index finger and middle finger inside.  The first tiny pangs of pain signaled to me that I would have to hurry, now.  I grabbed it, but it slid away. 

'Last chance... then I'll just leave it and come back...'    

I swam around and saw the silver dollar again.  I slid my two fingers inside and grabbed it. 

'Got it! Yes!'  I had a good firm grip on it, now.  I felt myself smile.  'Good thing, too 'cause I'm running out of air!'  I pull my body up.  My hand remains.  I tug and twist it.  I pull again. It still won't come out.  I try pulling it hard.  Nothing.  I now feel the first pangs of panic beginning.  I pull again.  I'm now grunting, scared by my own muffled voice.  I drop the silver dollar.  The last vestiges of air are escaping from my mouth.  I feel white-hot pain growing in my exploding chest.  

I start thinking. 

'Nobody can hear me.  Where is the Cute Lifeguard?  He should be here, by now.  Doesn't anyone realize I'm still under water?  Mom, I love you.  I'm sorry.  Daddy, I love you.  I love you... Somebody...'

I feel myself dying.  My hand relaxes in the pool drain. My long, dark hair is a halo around me.  The white-hot pain is now changing.  Changing into gray.  A grayness.  Darker.  I'm so tired.  If I could only just go to sleep... rest... just for a moment...

I wake up.  Soaking with sweat.  My heart is racing.  I look around, trying to focus.  I see the clock on the VCR: 3:12 a.m.  I sit up.  I've had it again... my recurring nightmare.

In my senior year of high school, I took Psychology. Great class.  For one semester, we studied dream interpretation.  Every weekend for that semester, we would set our alarms for 2:00 a.m.   Once awake, we would grab the notepad and pencil that was to be within arms reach and just begin writing.  Write down anything we could remember from the dream we were having.  If we could not remember the dream, write exactly what was going through our minds.  Anything.  One of the most amazing assignments I have ever had.  I continued doing it for years.  A flood in my parent's apartment ruined my journal.  I miss it, terribly.  Anyway, in the class, we learned basic -- very basic -- dream analysis/interpretation.  So, even then, I shared with my teacher and class my nightmare.  The discussions were so interesting.  Kids I didn't even know sharing what they interpreted.  What my teacher told me coincides with basic dream analysis;

He said that drowning represents helplessness.  I found that too vague.  I argued with him.  I would go to the library and research dreams.  I finally came to the conclusion that my dream meant that I was about to embark something painful -- and survive it.  Survive it because I did in fact wake up before I died in my dream.  But, there is a fine line, there;  I did not survive in  the dream (Or, did I?  Another interesting take!  Why am I to assume I die in it?  It's like I know I die; I just wake up too early to 'see' it).  I just woke up before I perished.  Every single time. 

To die in the dream would symbolize a rebirth.  Mine symbolizes an anxiety.  Repressed problems I need to face --  but will ultimately face and conquer.

On the other hand, finding money symbolizes a quest for power.  A hunger for love.  I found money.  I also lost money;  it slipped into the pool drain.  What does that mean?  Losing money represents a lack of self esteem or self worth.  Weakness.

I get all of that.  So my question is this:  Why do we have recurring dreams and nightmares.  Why just that one?  Why is it always the very same thing each time we dream it?  We know that dreaming is our mind's way of purging itself of all of that excess energy.  But why in such a way as a recurrence?  Maybe there is nothing interesting and new in our lives?  It's like a filler; a re-run of sorts. Have I not overcome something that started in childhood?   Who knows.
So why then, is it so damn terrifying?

Yes, I had this nightmare again -- last night.  It's so real.  I can almost smell chlorine when I awaken.  What does it mean?  Maybe I'm about to face my last physical hurdle on Friday.  I've not had this nightmare for almost three years. 

Sometimes I wish I was back in that class.  Maybe I'll research this more.  That's it!  I need to do that.  Maybe that'll stop it!  Once I know why we have recurring dreams, it'll stop.

Where's the Tylenol?

Until next time,

Peace... and sweet dreams!

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