What Could Have Been

Had I not been surfing the other side of unconsciousness.  Working mouth, and (almost) fingers, without any input from the brain.  Well, hopefully, I now know to avoid that state in the future.

Going back home wasn’t so hard in the beginning. When I first moved out, I spend the first two years living with relatives, so even though I didn’t visit even as often as I do know, the ties were nonetheless closer.  There’s an intangible “togetherness” that comes with living with family, no matter who’s there and who isn’t, or any physical distance at all. And back then, just starting college-level work, even at a community college, Real Life just seemed so far away. The very concept of adulthood was entirely out of the reach of my understanding. Now it’s entirely too close, and like billions of others before me, I’m missing my innocence. Or at least childhood, and it’s lack of responsibility beyond minor chores.  Those I can manage. Real Life, real independence, not so much…although that’s as much fear of the unknown as anything. I still call it “home,” but this weekend I was definitely visiting.

I stepped outside and it smelled like cold.  It doesn’t feel cold, not right away, though there’s an awareness. Then it prickles along the skin. The stars burn brighter on cold nights, too. And when the moon is full, it’s light seems  more right to me than the sun. I remember looking out my bedroom window at the apple tree as a kid. Everything would be drenched with a silver glow, and the shadows were holes of nonexistance.

I was a weird child.  But I’ve always loved the moon better than the sun.

We would drive home during the winter, after a long trip, and it would be snowing.  Only occasionally, but I remember it as a regular occurrence. But it was when the falling snowflakes would be highlighted by the headlights. I always preferred the larger flakes.  Big or small, though, when you watched them from the windshield (leaning sideways over the littlest brother asleep in the middle seat), it was like flying through space. Warp-speed, of course.  My dad watche(d/s) that show all the time, especially when we were little and had to watch with him.  So that’s what I saw.

When I was a little kid, and the family had to go on long car trips, all I had to do was watch the world go by outside the car.  I read everywhere else, but reading in the car has always given me a headache. So instead, I’d watch.  Whatever the landscape was, it became a part of the story…whichever story I was telling myself at the time. Honestly, I’ve always preferred to use the characters from my current reading list the actors in these stories. There’s a pre-set situation, and characteristics, and I can put them through increasingly fantastic and wild plots. Plots that will never exist in a real life novel or story, and that I likely wouldn’t read anyway. But they’re amusing in the short term. And they lasted awhile for car trips.  During the mountainous areas, I often imagined someone riding a horse desperately and carefully over the rough and rocky terrain. Over the plains…well, they were boring, so I imagined how my favorite characters would be bored in my place.

Again, weird child.

Though I hated them at the time, one of the things I do miss about growing over my childhood dreams, is losing them.  When I say childhood dreams, I don’t mean the things that I dreamed of doing as an adult–those dreams involved either becoming an artist or a marine biologist, and I lost intrest in both long ago. No, my childhood dreams were simply the dreams I had as a child, which sometimes, I think I remember better than my actually child.  Even when I was younger, say early middle school, I sometimes had trouble even remembering that they hadn’t happened.

My dreams weren’t fantastic like the stories I made up about the stories I’d read…I suppose I’d used that up during the day…because my dreams were entire alternate realities, that, most confusing for me when I was younger, relied heavily on images, people, and places from the real world.  My family was the same, as was our house, but the alley behind us became a slope down to the houses on the other side.  And a mean old man lived there, who had no equivelent in the real world. He didn’t like it when our dream-selves rolled down the hill for fun.

Actually, the alternate reality dreams weren’t often fantastic.  They proceeded much like real life, until middle school, when talking, superhero cats became involved.  Only the nightmares bled into the supernatural, though they too used the alternate realities of my happy dreams. In about second grade, the house burned down.  I was standing outside, in the back, holding Bear Bear, while flames billowed out the windows. It was winter, and I was cold…the flames weren’t actually hot for me, but I was screaming because the house was burning down. In fourth grade, the elementary school was on fire, leaving the sky yellow. And I think this may have been about the time I was reading Little House on the Prairie, because timber wolves were chasing everyone around campus. I ran around the kindergarten building and hid in a claw foot tub with a yellow shower curtain, and turned to look into the yellow eyes of yet another wolf.

The one that has reoccurred from about that time on, though, at least until high school, though I have had similar ones up until fairly recently.  Usually, the alternate Mt. Shasta (alternate, because if you look Mt. Shasta from my house…which is facing my old window…my dreams always have had it on the other side of town…where it wouldn’t be) is errupting. And the lava, smoke and flames are chasing everyone out of town. We’re all trying to drive away on the same road, which tended to have more lanes just for the evactuation. I don’t believe I let anyone die in my dreams, and even then I always remember, not just waking up into safety, but knowing everyone would get away before I woke. And when we were fleeing, I’d look back, watching the eruption, waiting to see if it got the house (which it never did) and the sunset would be gorgeous. My dreams were always beautiful, and bright.  The colors were always more real, and for my memories, still to a certain extent, more so.

I know that I didn’t like to control my dreams. I used to have very regular dreams of being on a swing, and wanting to go higher and higher. And I would, until the swing would break loose from the bars, and go higher, hundreds of feet high. And then it’d drop, and I could feel the loss of gravity, the air rushing past, my hair flying up, and my stomach dropping. Then I’d pull up and go up again, watching the sky. It was lovely fun.  Terribly exciting, far more so than anything I’d try in real life. The swings would get more and more extreme though, the longer I dreamed, until it got to the point where I’d start to be afaid I’d hit the ground, that I was going too fast to pull myself up. At that point I’d pull on the chains of the swing mightily, closing my eyes to concentrate my strength, and not just pull my dream-self up, but pulling myself out of the dream. Sometimes, it would fade after that, but usually I had to wake myself up. Then I’d fall asleep again, and sometimes the dream would start again, getting worse and worse until I had to wake myself up again. Up and down. Up and down.

What I miss most though,  is reading in my dreams.  I hated it then, because I could never finish anything, or not anything that I could remember. Even magazine articles. I remember having them open, reading the words on the page, and then watching them fade as the sun came though the window and returned my consciousness. I’d try to hide under the covers and screw up my eyes, and hold on to the words, force them to show themselves again, but they were always gone. But the stories were so good! and I hated that I couldn’t read them in real life.  Or even bring them to life myself.


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