There’s another side to what happens in my mind and heart when I’m asleep. And with the work in putting together Boy @ The Window, when I’m lost in thought in between new sentences, deleted paragraphs, and old emotions. Just because my life’s turned out much better than expected in the years since Humanities and Mount Vernon doesn’t mean that I don’t have any baggage from my lost years.
Even now, precious sleep can be hard to come by as rain is for a desert. Even with all the accomplishments, accolades and affections, sleeping well remains a difficult thing. When I finally do sleep, my dreams and nightmares are populated by others’ threats and my fears from my past. My ex-stepfather, my ex-crushes, the beatings and the longing. The scars and the people whom those scars represent are still there to draw upon, seek wisdom from, and occasionally respond to with justified retribution.
I’m often naked in my nightmares while fending them all off. My high school classmates, my ex-stepfather and my mother, and a cast of others who represent the physical and psychological violence of my growing-up years. For years, I could count on fighting my ex-stepfather in my dreams and nightmares. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. A few times, I managed to kill him. Most of the time, I woke up before I could do anything at all.
Then there was Crush #1. She seemed to show up in my dreams at the most inappropriate of times. No girlfriends, girlfriends or marriage, somehow a younger version of her would show up periodically to give me sage advice. As much as it felt good for her to show up in my dreams, her presence usually left me out of sorts. I knew that a part of me loved her, but that part could never be fulfilled. Not with so many other nightmares associated with her.
The one I have most often is one of me metaphorically exposing myself, and not just ones where I’m down to my birthday suit. It’s a dream — but more often a nightmare — where I’m being interrogated about something I said that particular day or week. No matter how wonderful a day I’ve had, I find myself in a room or in a public place being questioned about something I’ve said or done. By God. Or by one of my former professors. Or by friends and acquaintances from my past.
If there was only a way for me to turn it all off, to not wait for the other shoe to drop. To forget about all of the hurt, the bitterness, the betrayals from my childhood, if not the actual events themselves. To have a completely clean emotional state, to be able to start over would make sleep much easier to find, and rest as common as the air itself.
I understand that I’m the ultimate questioner, but it sure would be nice if I could stop beating myself up with the regrets I have about the Humanities years. Not to mention the lean and mean times at 616 and in Mount Vernon, New York. It was the prism through which I understood my Reagan years world.
These nightmares and daydreams aren’t ones that happen every day or night, nor are they the majority of my images and events that populate my asleep world. But they are there, laying in wait, ready to pounce upon me from time to time. Although I don’t see myself as a five-foot-four and 125 pound tweener anymore, and haven’t for at least twenty-one years, that person is a part of me. Instead of ignoring or suppressing these “bad” or “evil” dreams, I’ve decided to learn something from the avatars embodying them. At least when I’m asleep. I’ve stopped running in these dreams, and I’ve stopped being embarrassed at my nakedness in them.
I guess that this may coincide with having put a moratorium on revisions for the book. Maybe yes, maybe no. What I do know is that my conversations with my tweener and teenage years avatars make more sense than almost all the actual conversations I had with them in the real world. I guess that, despite the baggage, these nightmares and daydreams are a good thing, for they present a wisdom, an insight or a foresight that I wouldn’t have otherwise.