Let me just say upfront that the strongest drugs I’ve ever taken have surrounded surgeries I’ve had: wisdom teeth removal (which lead to some funny mid- and post-surgery interactions) and lumpectomy. Pretty sure the effects of the painkillers post-lumpectomy were to knock me out entirely, and not to give me weird dreams.
I’m perfectly capable of having wacked-out dreams on my own, and have been capable of this since I was a small child and got disturbing enough nightmares that my before-bed prayers began, of my own initiative, to include requests for “a good sleep with happy dreams.” I don’t think my dreams have gotten much less disturbing, but I guess I’m kind of used to them now, so usually (unless they involve the death of someone I’m close to, which they have on occasion) they don’t phase me and at most I wake up trying to remember the in case I want to retry my hand at sci-fi/fantasy writing. They’re harder to remember these days, too, on account of the fact that they’re always so weird. Lately (like, over the last year or two) they’ve involved a lot of travel to places that are supposed to be London but are actually India or something, or else chaotic camp-running experiences, or some combination of the two. Usually these days, the Youth Group of Now Church are traveling with me in these dreams. Sometimes I dream about the neighbourhood in which I grew up, which, it turns out in the dreams, includes a farm of exotic if not outright mythological or extinct animals–usually scary ones, which I end up having to encounter in some context or other. Only one dream in my life (as far as I can remember) has ever involved flying. I wish there were more of those.
Lately, however, the dreams have ramped up even from their usual wacked-out-ness. I sort of blame Dr. Who. Last weekend I dreamed I was Dr. Who’s companion and we were fighting/fleeing Nazis; one of the Nazis managed to incinerate the Doctor, but somehow the Doctor didn’t need to regenerate because he managed to escape in time and just appear to be incinerating; meanwhile all the Youth of Now Church were holed up in the building where Then Church used to meet when I was a kid growing up and they didn’t have their own building. Said kids were in danger of the Nazis even though they aren’t Jewish (well, except for one of them), and I had to somehow run away from the Nazi who thought he had incinerated the Doctor and get back to the kids and tell them that the Doctor was actually okay and they would be okay because he was coming to get them. In the middle of relaying this message, I woke up. Normally on waking from a dream directly, I take a couple of minutes to reassess all the nonsense in the dream and remind myself that such things don’t and can’t actually happen, but when I woke up from this dream it occurred to me that everything in it was actually believable in terms of an actual Dr. Who episode.
This week, more narrative nonsense has been added to the mix. I’m listening to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on CD, and yesterday the magician Jonathan Strange was concocting a potion to make him temporarily mad so that he would be able to see a fairy with whom he was trying to league himself, and then I went over to the Boyfriend’s and we watched Brazil, which, I said afterward, felt like watching someone else’s two-hour hallucination.
Evidently that kind of thing is all it takes to give me my own night-time hallucinations, which, I feel, is a much healthier way to have them than actually putting chemicals in one’s body to do it, if one must have them. Last night I dreamt that the Youth Group and a couple of other adults and I were planning a trip to Faerie on some sort of airbus, of all things, but once they all got on the first airbus, there wasn’t enough room for me, and I had to wait and get on the next one. The next one was being driven (yes, driven) by a man who was in trouble in Faerie and was trying to get back there, either to rectify the situation or to rescue someone who was stuck there or something. I ended up getting roped into this scheme, along with a couple of other people, and the dream ended with me trying to decide if I should bring Oscar along or if there was someone loitering about whom I knew well enough to leave Oscar with until I got back.
This is the kind of thing that’s been happening in my head since I first heard of Jack and the Beanstalk. Don’t underestimate the power of story, folks. Well . . . you’re The Readers. I guess you wouldn’t.