Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living With Tigers

Since I was fifteen years old, I have had a reoccurring dream where I'm trapped in an empty house and I'm being stalked by something. Once it was a creepy man who was trying to kill a boy who lived in the walls of the house, and it was my job to kill the man before he got to the boy. Once it was something invisible. Something that would slam doors and lure me to an open window with a cool breeze and a dancing curtain only to be slammed shut just before I'd put my fingers down. It was something I never saw only felt.  Other times I have been stalked by a panther. A grizzly bear. A lion. A panther, again. But last week it was a tiger. A big beautiful Siberian tiger. And this time I thought I might win.

I found the tiger in a back room of the house. I had an axe in my hands and before the tiger realized what I was there for, I had chopped it in half. Two bloody halves of a tiger lay on the ground. I feel the first signs of victory that I finally killed the son of a bitch that has been threatening to eat me alive. But just as I put the axe down, the tiger lifts its head and looks at me. As I stand there, feeling my knees begin to shake, the tiger's tail whips up and smacks back down on the floor. As I'm backing out of the room, both halves of the tiger get back up. The headless half and the hindless half both turn in opposite directions as if they are peeling out and it dawns on me that now I will be stalked by two tigers who will come at me from two different angles. I quickly close the door and run further into the house looking for some sort of hide-out trying to save myself from the two tigers I created from one.

There are days when I wake up in the middle of this dream or some other dream, like the one where I'm on the beach and an 80 foot tidal wave is slowly approaching. I have nowhere to run, nothing I can do to save myself. I am resigned to my fate and so I just stand there feeling my heart beating in my chest for what I realize, in my dream, is the last time. There are the dreams when someone dies or the dreams when the dead are trying to talk to me and are taken away by a man that won't allow them to speak to me-the living. I wake up from these dreams soaked, the fear so paralyzing that it takes me a second before I can move, like when we were kids and we'd get so scared we'd just pull the sheets over us and hope whatever was out there would go away, think that we were sleeping or hopefully not see us at all. I feel my chest tight, my stomach full of moths, because these are not the good kind of butterflies. I will slowly get up and look at the clock. I will tell myself it was a dream, but sometimes it takes the fear too long to pass and I find myself second-guessing which world I am in. If it really was just a dream, why do I still feel so scared?

My dream life has been vivid and violent for as long as I can remember. I never remember the good dreams though I'm sure there have been many. It is the nightmares that I remember and that come back for more. I've tried keeping a dream journal and sometimes they get incorporated into my writing, but mostly I don't record them because I think I'd like to forget them. But the house dream never goes away. So I figured I would write about living with tigers and stomachs full of moths and tidal waves to see if maybe the nightmares will ease up a little once they have been laid down in text. Maybe they are kicked in high gear as my wedding day approaches; all my fears and excitement getting worked out in that damn house with the slamming doors and predatory animals that won't stay dead. Or like the other recurring dream I've had two or three times this year where I'm hiking up a hill in the forest and suddenly realize it is the end f hibernation season and if I'm not quiet like a mouse I will wake up a field full of grizzly bears, sometimes polar bears, who will be very hungry.  I dream of sleeping beasts I must not wake and stalking beasts I must try to hide from. Maybe it is the writing voice in me that wants to get out, angry at me for not finishing anything more than a blog post here and there and even that has been inconsistent lately. Maybe it is another part of me in there. Me as tiger. Me as me. Me as the boy in the walls and the invisible force. Or maybe it's just a damn dream.

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