A Recurring Dream

My husband and I, for a while after we were married, lived in a garage apartment next to my parents’ home.  It was detached from the house, and, as the name implies, consisted of an apartment on top of a garage. The garage was made for two cars, with a small workspace on the side, and a few feet of storage at the end (in front of the cars). The apartment was tiny. It had one bedroom, a kitchen, a livingroom, and a bathroom. The picture below shows the apartment before we, meaning my parents and I) did an external renovation consisting of new siding and a deck on the right-hand side.


I really tried to spruce it up. The living room was small enough that I was able to go to a carpet store, buy a piece of remnant carpet, and take it home, rolled and folded, in my Fiat Spider, which was a small convertible. I couldn’t see out of the passenger window, but we made it home okay.

This first year of our marriage was tumultuous. We were in love, yes, but we still fought to no end.

We had company often back then, for those were the days before our friends had children, and still wanted to hang out on a moment’s notice.  One night, a friend and his girlfriend had come to visit. The guys had gone to the grocery store, so the girlfriend and I were sitting in the livingroom talking.  I was fond of this girlfriend, Jennie, because she was chatty and familiar in her interactions with me. Plus, she had a belly-button piercing, which I found fascinating.

It was a windy, stormy night, because a hurricane that had made landfall in the Gulf of Mexico was making its way north through Alabama, and its remnants had reached our area. Normally, during storms, the apartment swayed with the wind. It wasn’t noticeable if you were just walking around, but if you were in bed, it felt a little like a boat.  This evening, while we were talking, just us two girls, a very large limb crashed down on the roof.  We were both caught off guard, but since I was already worried that the place might possibly cave under the stress of the wind at any moment, I jumped up and ran out the door. I was down the stairs and under the shelter of the garage door opening before she could understand what had happened. Jennie had jumped onto the floor, as if trying to crawl under the smoke, but I was out of there.

You see, she could not have known that the two trees that lumbered over the garage apartment were sweet-gum trees, and that their limbs break easily during high winds. I, on the other hand, was very aware of this fact (as evidenced by my flight from that place), and had lived in a constant state of fear of these trees for over a year.

So whenever I am feeling a great deal of stress in my life, my dreams return to this place, where I lived in fear of annihilation from a storm.  I find myself living in the apartment, aware that storms are coming. I can look out the window and see a tornado in the distance, but not very far away. I see the dark cloud reaching down toward the ground and know that it is coming my way, and that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to stop it. I feel helpless and debilitated, wondering how to spend the last few minutes of my life.

I don’t recall ever having survived the storm, but I never actually experience the storm. I think that the dream always ends, me in a panic,  before the storm arrives. I used to try to direct my dreams, and was successful occasionally. I would realize that I was dreaming, thus free to pursue whatever was escaping me. Never in this dream, however. I always knew it would end in oblivion, my remains scattered in the yard in which I used to playas a child.