My sleep schedule has never been terribly sound. I often suffer from bouts of insomnia, am kept awake by even the most niggling of concerns, and tend to lose track of time late at night. After a lifetime of this crap, I have accepted that I will probably always have sleep troubles, and that no amount of melatonin, Ambien CR, or warm milk will ever help it.
I wouldn’t mind this arrangement so much were it not for the fact that I am plagued by strange dreams on a nightly basis. And I do mean nightly. And during naps on the couch. And sometimes even when I’m driving home at 2:00 AM on an empty country road and I blink just a little bit too long and end up playing “median-line-slalom.”
For some reason, I keep having recurring themes in these dreams:
Thematic Dreamscape #1: Toronto with Rollercoaster Roads
I don’t know why I keep dreaming of Toronto. It isn’t like I really love the city. I think that it’s dirty, kind of ugly, and full of crazies (and this is coming from someone that lives next to Hamilton).
But I also don’t hate it. Why would I keep dreaming about a city to which I am indifferent? Is it because I still kind of think of myself as a country kid, one that often catches himself staring up at any building over ten stories, mouth slack like those of the yokels that bear that stigmatic name? Does it represent all cities, like some kind of crazy urban archetype planted firmly in my subconscious?
Even if I could rationalize any of these things, I don’t understand why every time that I dream about this Dreamscape TO all of the roads have turned into rollercoaster tracks without the safety measure. My dream-self is always negotiating some messed-up version of the Gardiner Expressway perched 200 feet above the city. There are no guardrails, the other drivers think we’re playing bumper cars, and the lanes often end without warning, plunging me and my dream car to the unforgiving ground.
Why? Seriously, what the hell kind of dream is that to have? If it was once I could understand it as the by-product of some bad food choices, but I have had these dream dozens of times.
Stupid rollercoaster roads.
Thematic Dreamscape #2: My Dad’s Backyard with Alligators
From the 7th grade onward, I grew up in a little town called Brookville. It had two corner stores with rudimentary gas stations attached, a run-down public school, a veterinary clinic, a public hall, and swampland. The town has now grown to include a place where a guy sells meat out of his garage, but I haven’t gone there yet to check it out.
I was lucky: my house growing up had a nice big backyard, some swampy woodland, and a pond full of duckweed, frogs, and leeches. My Dad still lives there, and I look forward to taking my daughter there to stomp about in her little rubber boots, teaching her how to fire a bow and arrow, and getting into the kinds of shenanigans that my brother and I did so many years ago.
But you know what it didn’t have?
Not a one.
So why is it that whenever I dream of my Dad’s place, it is full to brimming with alligators? The pond is overflowing with them. They are basking on the fire pit. They are circling the compost bins. They are rolling around in the swamp, no doubt gorging on the family of muskrats that I spent years unsuccessfully trying to kill with my pellet gun.
This place is in Ontario, for crying out loud! I’m know that the Metro Toronto Zoo has a gator, but I refuse to go there in my dreams because the roads look like bloody Hotwheel tracks.
As if it isn’t bad enough that I always end up at my old place surrounded by hundreds of carnivorous crocodilians, for some reason, my Dad always sends me outside to do some ridiculous task, like clearing out the shed behind the pond, or digging up the giant talking daisies by the woods. The last time I had this dream, he gave me a spear to defend myself.
So, as I prepare myself for another night of restless sleep, I wonder where I will end up, how many animals will want to eat me, and if I’ll need to negotiate the double-corkscrew on the QEW in order to get there.