Artemis Walsh / Essay / Grace Monahan / March 2019

Dreams of Terror and Unfamiliarity

graceWritten by Artemis Walsh

Illustrated by Grace Monahan

I don’t usually remember my dreams, and I’ve rarely seen the sunrise. I have always found “early to bed, early to rise” immensely difficult. By the beginning of my final  semester of college, I found it almost impossible to fall asleep in enough time to wake up early. The remedy: over-the-counter sleeping pills. Because capitalism would prefer biochemistry over humanity.

 

These pills knock me out and keep me out, and in the meantime take my mind elsewhere. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but I often remember the ones brought on by the sleeping pills. And I have noticed among them a common theme.

 

I am in a car, or a bus. It’s late at night and raining and the lights are off; only red neon lights cut through the darkness. I’m moving through a run-down area of town, to a hole-in-the-wall pizza place or bar. There, someone tells me where I need to go next. It’s always somewhere; I never remember where. I get back in my car or on the bus and continue through this flooded darkness.

 

We (my family, my high school friends, or my college friends) are in a car, moving across a wide and immeasurable desert. Or maybe it’s a beach. Maybe it’s a salt flat, like someone drained the Mediterranean. The sun hangs in the sky and bounces off the flat. Anyway, that’s to our right. The dunes are to the left: the impossibly high mounds crowned with seagrass are to the left. We drive across the road between these two extremes, trying to find our way out, back to normalcy.

 

I am in this place or that, a building stitched together with parts,rooms and designs from twenty-two years of memories. I walk through the science building of my mother’s alma mater, which bleeds into a small town library.  In the next dream, I am in a motel that resembles my old college dorm. I may have stood in these rooms once, maybe twice, but they are captured like a photo in my unconscious to reappear in dream. Or perhaps I have created a place entirely from mind, and my unconscious works as an architect. I walk through, finding my way. Everything is peaceful at first, but soon my anxiety builds and the other people begin to glare at me. I run. There is a noise in the distance. Something is following me; something is chasing me; I must not look behind to see or risk it catching me.

 

As I wake up, my heart is racing still, even as the dream fades from view. I take a moment to ponder the dream; now with fully lucid hindsight. What was I fearful of? What was the land like? Why do I so often have dreams like this? I cannot help but ask questions about myself.

 

With these dreams, I do not just go somewhere. I am always going. I am lost. I am on the move, trying to find my way through them. Sometimes, I have things chasing me. No matter where I am, it is neither a place that is familiar, nor a place in which I can stay.

 

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