Reoccurring Dreams

Man, dreams were great when I was younger. They were insane and fun and had great atmosphere. Most of my dreams as an adult are alternately about boring things or nightmares about things happening to other people I am responsible for. Which are not fun.

As a kid I had a number of reoccurring dreams. I mean, I assume I did. The thing about reoccurring dreams is…are they really reoccurring? When you’re in the dream and you’re like, ah, yes, I have been here/done this before, have you really? Or is that just another layer to the dream?

For example, when I was in early elementary school, we lived in a tri-level house out in the woods. Lovely place. We had seven acres of land, so I spent most of my time outside, exploring rocks and trees and imagining stories of my own creation.

The basement, however, was dark, lined with dark wood paneling and having a single wall of windows on one end. The light end was great (except for the time I fell off the shelf and broke my arm). The dark end was dark and featureless (and had an actual dark room, which we just…didn’t use for anything).

At the time I had a series of dreams involving the dark end of the basement. In the dream, I’d go down the stairs, but instead of there being nothing, there was kind of an…evil carnival. What exactly was there changed from time to time, but it was definitely something I dreamed various times. (There was an alligator once, and another time some scruffy little boy stole my favorite stuffed animal.)

My reoccurring dreams are always linked by place. It’s the place that’s reoccurring, and the events may or may not be linked from dream to dream. Oftentimes what’s changed in the place is directly related to how long it’s been since I’ve dreamed that particular dream.

I had reoccurring dreams a lot as a child, as I mentioned above. But, all of sudden, I’m having them again as an adult. I mean, I’m dreaming those same places from when I was younger, not having new reoccurring dreams.

I had one last week, though I don’t remember what specifically it was anymore. And I had one last night.

Let me back up. As a kid, my grandparents’ house was one of my favorite places. It was where I saw and played with my cousins. It’s where we spent a lot of time when my parents were divorcing, where I first got to touch and learn how to use a computer (and play games), where I spent hours up the crabapple or jumping off the wall or lazing about in the hot tub. My grandfather had a mining consulting business in the basement, with pictures of huge equipment and coal cores (which I touched only once and then learned my lesson) and this giant printer–and my grandfather was my very favorite person, may he rest in peace.

So it makes sense that I had a dream grandparents’ house that I would visit. The dream one was huge, several stories tall, with a tower, and a rideable miniature railroad, and a pool, and part that looked like a castle inside and out, and museum exhibits, and a place to host haunted houses, and mini golf. A giant library. Huge rooms for me and my cousins to stay in. And there was a separate building in the back, which was the “original” house (whatever that means in dream world), smaller and more modest but still not at all related to the real-world house.

I dreamed of this version throughout my childhood, but I don’t think I have since my grandfather died (19 years ago). Or I might have once afterwards–I have a vague memory of something being wrong with the tower and it having to be anchored to the hill behind it–but no matter what, it’s been a while.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself there last night, surrounded by my family (including my uncle, dead these eight years). The house, if anything, had become grander and bigger in the years since. But there was an undertone of disuse and decay throughout. There was a burst pipe that no one had bothered to repair for several years. Portions of it (such as the castle and the pool) were open to the public.

But the general feeling was that we, the family, had to give the place up, that it was empty and falling apart, and that we’d lost control and there was nothing to be done.

Not the most optimistic of dreams, but also not that surprising. After my grandfather died, family get-togethers were never really the same. That’s to be expected, I think, and perhaps explains why the reoccurring dreams stopped.

And last summer, my grandmother decided to move out of that house I loved so much from my childhood and sell it. So maybe this was just that–a last dream farewell to someplace that meant a lot to me, but that is now (and to be honest, has been, at least emotionally) no longer available.

A little slow on the uptake–the house sold months ago–but a farewell nevertheless, and a thinly-veiled metaphor of how family changes as you age and people leave your life while new people enter it.

Man, it is a cool house, though. Maybe I’ll dream of it again sometime, in better times.

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