When a Dream Feels Too Real

Have you ever had a dream that felt so real it took you a moment to realize it was just a dream and not real life?

What about a dream that felt so real it was scary?

OR a dream that felt so real, it feels like it was the long lost key to a lock that was hiding a deeply buried real life memory?

A memory you put in a box, inside of a box, inside of a safe, inside of a bank vault, and covered it with layers and layers of bandages?

A lock box that you stuffed full of the pain and the anger and sadness and guilt and terror.

A lock box that you stuffed full because your brain never wanted to revisit that memory?

I have had dreams that have felt so real, it took me a moment to realize it was not real life. Those are freaky. But also kind of neat.

I also have dreams that mimic real life. Causing me to pause and wonder if they were a premonition type of dream. And those dreams have actually been happening more often lately. Super weird.

But my dream last night –

Well, let’s just get started.

It was dark. It was too early in the day to be this dark. It must have been a normal Pacific Northwest late fall evening.

Rain drops covering the windshield. The wipers relentlessly swish. Swish.

My husband driving with a heightened sense of urgency. I, in the passenger seat, trying to hide my worry. My anxiety. My panic.

Why? I couldn’t tell you.

We came upon a 3-Way stop. One I have stopped at thousands of times before. On the right – is a small paved parking lot. There is no street light. The only reason I know it is there on this dark and dreary night – is because one of my Great Aunts (RIP) – had a backyard that lined a piece of the parking lot.

For the first time in years, we turn left at this particular stop.

We pass the athletic field where Track and Field teams meet, Baseball teams play, and spending Friday under the Lights in the stadium during the fall – is the place to be if you are in High School. I spent 4 falls worth of Fridays in the rickety old stands with the Marching Band.

I can close my eyes, and still remember the vibration pattern as people stomped their feet to the spirit song. I can hear the cheers as our players sprint towards the goal. I feel the damp wetness as we marched on the field. I can smell the required hot dogs and the taste of the 3ft long red licorice rope.

My heart yearns for a simpler time. But then my brain quickly remembers that it was just as complicated as it was simple.

Tonight, it is still. No kids are cheering. Only auxiliary lights are barely lighting up the stands. The track looks as slick, and as smooth, as a seal that just popped out of the water.

It must not be Friday.

I can feel my chest tighten. My husband’s knuckles turn a shade of white that caught the corner of my eye. I instinctively turn and see our speed slow dramatically.

That can only mean one thing. I look in my side mirror.

A cop car is now behind us. His red and blues aren’t on. He is not pulling us over.

My husband and I take simultaneous deep breaths that smell like panic and fear.

I still don’t know why. But I can feel the immense emotions as they vibrate thru my bones.

We pass a sign that says “Dead End.” It wasn’t more than 1/2 a mile from the 3 Way intersection. We keep going another block or two. As a cement block wall appears, we slow.

The cop car slows with us.

And then we park. We hestitate to unbuckle. We both know we have to go in.

The cop car pulls up alongside of us. Their rear passenger tire aligned with our front driver side tire. He jumps out of his car. Why did he follow us?

Did he follow us?

I look out my window. I see a 2 story picture perfect family home. White fence. Perfectly lush green grass. Flower bushes. Even a bird bath, and a wind chime hanging from the wrap around porch.

I must have missed the cop leave his car. Thru the sideways rain, I cannot miss the red door that contrasts the pristine white house. It opens slowly. No one visible on the other side.

The cop walks right in. He stops abruptly and turns. And then he holds up his left arm, motioning us to come on in.

We open our car doors. Why are we so drawn to this house? Why am I drowning in a sense of fear.

We solemnly walk along the cobblestone path. Aged longer than the house that stands at the other end.

My brain is telling me not to move. “Do an about face” it screams to the neurons that are supposedly controlling the movement of my legs. Something is blocking the message. Filtering it. Changing the words. Because I keep moving towards the Red Door.

My husband grabs my hand. He squeezes tight. I look at him. He goes in first.

As if straight from Hollywood, the stairs are off center from the entrance-way, heading straight up to the 2nd floor. To the left, a fireplace roars with a TV-less living room. To the right, an 8-person dining room table is covered in the shiniest China.

A warming smell wafts through the hallway. Reminding me of the days that Grandma would make her infamous Chocolate Chip Cookies. Soft. Chewy. Warm. Full of love.

Muted cheers and boos are heard in the background. From upstairs? I hear a loud BUZZ!!! Sounded like a game buzzer. One you hear in basketball to mark the end of a game. But it sounded like it was right upstairs. With such clarity that there is no way it came from a TV or stereo system.

Something caused my head to dart from the top of the stairs to the end of the hallway we are currently standing in. A figure stands at the end. A little hunched. Hands wringing a towel that is hanging from their waist. Shoes sparkly. But the stance says “I am exhausted.”

I see an apron. Similar to what my Grandma used to wear.

As I scan upwards, I gasp.

The figure is face-less. No spots for eyes. No space for a mouth. Its just. The face. It is just not there. A blur. Fuzzy? Smooth? Transparent? I cannot tell.

The figure tells us it is OK to go upstairs.

I am startled. The Red Door behind us opens again. Another man walks thru.

Another officer. He is carrying dynamite.

He yells for someone. The first cop that arrived. The officer hands the cop a couple red sticks. TNT visible across the side. They head upstairs.

But before they turn the corner – the cop tell us “come on. You gotta see this. You will not regret it.” He disappears.

My husband and I look at each other. We both clearly have zero clue what is going on. But as if a curse is in charge, we walk up the steps. Creaky steps. In a perfect house.

Weird. I thought. But the thought dissolved.

We arrive at the top landing. I look left. Caution tape is wrapped around one door, with a dry erase board marked “No Little Brother’s Allowed”.

2 other plain white doors are closed tightly. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I look right. The direction where the cop and the officer disappeared. A small dollar tree basketball hoop hangs off the top of the door. A little stuffed basketball sits solemnly on the ground close to the wall.

“Boo! Bad call Ref!” can be heard thru the door.

We walk the 10 steps to the door. I go to grab the handle.

The handle turns without my touch. As if it knows I was going to open it. Reacting to my thoughts.

“Go Go go go Go! TOUCHDOWN!”

Directly opposite the door, one of the largest flat-screens I have ever seen, just shy of a movie theater screen, is solidly attached to the wall. That has no ceiling.

I start to scan the room. Why is it so chilly, I ponder.

Outdoor siding is on the wall to the right. Up above are fairy lights, strung between 4×4 posts in the corners of the room.

Set-up like a living room, but seemingly outside. A handful of people are scattered around the room. A coffee table littered with open beer bottles, a huge bowl of tortilla chips, a bowl of salsa so spicy I can smell it, and a huge delicious looking dish of guacamole.

But it is what is to the left of the bedroom door that makes my jaw drop in astonishment.

Stadium seats. A floor covered bright green artificial turf. Goal posts at either end.

I walk to the railing. Yes. A railing. In a bedroom. That is seemingly outside. My hands grasp the top. And I lean over. I scan the sight in front of me.

I look to my left. Box office suites. I look to my right. Box office suites.

All set up the same way – like bedrooms.

I think back to the road we traveled on to get here. Something isn’t right. This house should be backed up to the high school athletic field.

Not a 20K? 30K? person stadium.

Besides – this is my hometown. How had I not known about this stunning stadium?

The seats are empty. The field is quiet. The TV is showing a different game.

I turn around and spot my husband with a beer in hand already. He is in the process of getting in to his “game watching” mode.

He left me a spot so I go and join him. I was in a suspended state of disbelief. I didn’t think to grab myself something to drink.

But the room read my thoughts again. Because as soon as the thought passed thru my brainwaves, a beer magically appeared in my grasp.

The next thing I know, I am waking up. Shirtless. Scared. Confused. My husband is slowly arousing. The confusion on his face slowly evolves to the point where it could be seen from across the stadium.

I hear laughter. I rush over to the railing. Laughter again. I look down on the turf. The group from last night is playing some sort of game.

They have my shirt. Why are they playing with my shirt. My husband tackles one of the figures. He gets my shirt. I thrown it on. We run down the stairs.

The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies still wafting thru the house.

I pause for a second. My husband didn’t. He grabs my hand and jerks me forwards as we run to the car.

I blink. We have pulled up to our home. My mom immediately starts saying words. I am too startled. Too scared. Too, too, too disconnected.

Our kids, still in their PJs, with leftover breakfast on their face, come running towards me for their loves hugs and kisses.

I look at my husband. And that is when it hit me. I knew what happened in that room. And he did too.

But I had no proof. No one would have believed us. Why were we even there in the first place?

I didn’t find the answers. Instead, I woke up.

I started crying. My soul knew it had just awoken something. A lock was picked. Did this dream just unlock a Pandora’s box?

I moved my hand to find my blankets so I could curl up. I felt soft fur.

I opened an eye lid. Though fuzzy, I could tell that the soft fur was of my puppy. He had his head rested on me. Something he rarely does in the middle of the night. He knew. He could tell I needed him.

Before I knew I needed him at that exact moment.

I press a random button on my watch. 330AM. 30 more minutes until my first alarm is snoozed.

So I continue to hold my puppy. With tears in my eyes. I fall back to sleep.

This dream, was too real.

Maybe it was real.

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