Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Book of Me: Prompt #10 Memory & Recurring Dreams

I hundreds of memories from childhood, from the people to the places and the many experiences growing up in a small family in a small town. But the the suggestion of a recurring memory was a real challenge for me. So I really gave some thought about memories---which I have many, but I kept asking myself is there anything that seemed to be there continually through the years either from experience or dreams. I did finally give it some thought and few did come to mind.

"I've Been Here Before"
Like many people I have always had that "deja vu" moment that never makes sense. I might find myself talking to someone in a coffee shop and while we are enjoying a pastry one of us says something, or mentions something and then I am immediately straining my brain to remember--as it seems as if I have been in the same place at the same time, doing the same thing before. I have often mentioned it to the person---and stopped the conversation and said---"this is so strange--I have a weird feeling that I have been here and done the same thing." That deja vu moment usually fades, and I never quite figure it out.

The Strange Big Hole and the Recurring Dream

When I was a child I used to have a dream about a big hole---a hole large enough to swallow a house. The hole was in the back of my grandmother's house. Now I know why I dreamt of the hole. I recall being at Grandma's house and there was some work being done in the alley. Big caterpillar tractors were there working on something--it could have been the water line, or something. I remember the big machine scooping up the soil, and I moved close to the edge of the fence near her property to see what was taking place. Though I was safe and not in the way of the work, I remember feeling that I was close to something dangerous too.  I remember looking into the hole and being amazed at the depth of it, and noting the ease in which this giant machine was breaking the earth, and my wanting to see what was inside.

I should mention that when I was a child I lived with a very simplistic view of the world. And there was a giant whole, that I remember thinking might give me a glimpse into the inside of the earth. What would I see? So I looked into that big hole in the alley--and I recall vividly that I wondered if  I would see people burning in hell. Now, keep in mind that I was a small child and assumed that hell was a place that was somewhere underneath the earth. So I had to look inside that big hole----and course I only saw soil, a few worms, and I recall that I noticed the huge pile of soil scooped up to the side.  My grandmother called me back to the house as she did not want me too close to the fence, and that was it.

But that wasn't it. Off and on for many years---the image of that hole would appear in my dreams.  But in my dreams the big hole was always filled with water, and the water was always blue, and swirling around like a whirlpool. I was always a bit afraid of the swirling water. I would never get in it, but it always made me a wee bit nervous. And then---I would wake up. This dream of the swirling blue water in the great big hole would occur off and on into adult life. Never was sure what that was all about.

"It's a Twister!"
There is one other dream that was inspired by life's circumstances. I grew up in the tornado belt. And in the spring, if you live in the heart of the country, you are used to sirens, telling you to take cover immediately! These sirens sound like an air raid sirens from World War II movies. But in reality they are weather sirens alerting the local population of approaching danger from the skies. If you have not experienced this, then simply believe me---this is frightening! 

I grew up with those sirens, and lived for many years in fear of blowing away, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. And of course like many children, the tornado scene in that movie was one of the scariest scenes. (Apart from the flying monkeys!) 

The twists and turns of the tornado in the distance from the movie, plus the real memory of sirens going off in the middle of the night and having to get out of bed and run to the center of the house where there were no windows, since we had no basement is a vivid memory.  Sometimes there was real damage, so this was no fantasy--tornadoes are real and they are dangerous.

Tornado Scene from Wizard of Oz - MGM Production, 1939

The end result is that I have become a constant weather watcher---and I am very aware of changes in the weather, and when conditions are such to lead to unstable weather conditions. 

But the other result---tornado dreams! I usually have one or two a year---just brief dreams where there may be funnels in the distance. And of course I admit to watching the Wizard of Oz with nieces, nephews, whenever it comes on, and that scene usually inspires at least one tornado dream per year. Yes, it's true---I still have tornado dreams! They are sporadic, but at least once a year I have a dream where there is a tornado coming or way off in the distance.

I often laugh about these odd dreams, and though I have other dreams that never make any sense I guess it is a good thing that I am truly not haunted by some truly dark sinister secret from the past. (Even thought the swirling water is kind of weird.) I think of how there are countless other people who have truly deep seated fears and thoughts from terrible events in their lives. And I know that for many these memories come to them when they sleep.

I think about these dreams and if nothing else I realize how lucky I am. I lived in the south, during the terrible years of the Civil Right struggle. And growing up in an African American community, in a harsh southern world, my parents kept many horrible things away from my eyes, so that the innocence of childhood would not be impaired by the stresses of living in a world of turmoil.

I was so lucky that any recurring dreams or memories were not brought about by any acts of violence or hate to my own family. But I have met others over the years whose parents were in the fray of the movement, and the turmoil of the 1960's, and these individuals were truly affected even to this day by recurring dreams of violence. They have talked about how the terrorist acts in their community have left permanent scars on them though they are now adults in their 60s and 70s.

I was so fortunate to be simply a little girl amazed at the big hole in the back, and sometimes having the memory of the storms blowing through. And since no major weather tragedies occurred during those years, I have only a child's memory that occasionally visits me in my adult years.

Those simple times, even with the recurring dreams, eventually would lead to years in which I was more aware of the real world and its harsh realities. But, I am so glad that when I needed the time of innocence, and wonder, I was fortunate to have them, and no harm came to me.

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