In This Body: Dreams I Remember

Editor Fiona George, Editor's Choice, July 11th, 2017

"...someone or something I love is separated from me..."

Fiona George Essay Nailed Magazine
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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.

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The first dream I remember, I must have been younger than five. We were at the zoo. We were at the beach. We were in a castle. The castle-zoo on the edge of the beach was old and stone, pools of saltwater and small drifts of sand between the cobblestone floor. My child-hand tight around the neck of Duck, my favorite stuffed duck. My thumbs running anxiety-circled around his plastic black eyes, stripping the fabric.

At the top of the castle, the open air and the monkey enclosure. I could see out onto the beach, and out of the waves came these strange monsters. Walruses, but not. Walruses, but huge, but they filled me with fear. Their faces were wrong. I’d lost my mom, and my sister, and my friends, and their parents.

I was alone and clutching Duck until I wasn’t. Down on the beach I could see his limp stuffed body in the tusk of one of the monsters. How doesn’t really matter, it woke me up crying.

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As an adult, my nightmares are few and far between. When I was little, they’d wake me up like that nightly.

As an adult, I have one where I wake up on a couch after a party at my friend’s apartment. My partner had been there when I’d dozed off but he was gone when I woke up. No one was around. I got up to look down the hall, to the bathroom door, to the bedrooms. The hall stretched forever, all the doors closed. Choruses of sex sounds and slivers of light.

On the balcony, I can see across the apartment courtyard to a towering carnival funhouse. I knew exactly where he was, my love who had a thing for the macabre. He snuck into the fun house at night.

The next morning he was still gone, and still gone, and still gone but his car was outside. The funhouse was locked. No one else was worried. No one was scared that he’d gone missing.

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My most vivid nightmares center this way: someone or something I love is separated from me and in danger. I’m always alone. No one listens to me. I am always afraid of losing those most important to me, even in my sleep. I feel like I need to know when my boyfriend will be getting home and where he is so that I know when to worry that he might be dead, or leaving me for someone more interesting, more mature, more attractive.

About a month ago I brought home a new kitten, my baby Potato, and she’s going to grow up an indoor cat because of the damage that outdoor cats do to the ecosystem—the extinction of birds. But also because the day before I started high school, my first cat Jiji was mauled to death by a dog. I see Potato stare at the outside, try to sneak through the cracks in doors. Meow through the window when I sit on the front porch smoking a cigarette.

I am already afraid of her leaving, of her dying.

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My last nightmare that I remember, I was downtown at a hotel in Portland for some big convention. I forgot Potato’s leash and her carrier so I carried her around or left her in my hotel room.

When I was not with her, the ground started to shake, snow and rain started falling. It seemed like the earth and sky were ripping open. It was chaos and the only word I heard over the drone of panic was ‘apocolypse.’Large groups were shuffled towards vans that would take us to an evacuation spot.

We were halfway there, halfway to safety and I remember Potato out of nowhere. I think I can feel my heart racing and sweat beading on my real body—my sleeping body. The man driving the van slammed the breaks and turned around fast. No one in the van complained that we were risking our lives because I forgot my cat, I’m being listened to. Taken care of. The van screeched and swerved towards the hotel, through parking-lot traffic of everyone else trying to escape danger while we sped towards it.

At the hotel entrance, I ran out of the car calling her name—Potato, Potato. She ran right up to me and jumped into my arms. Curling herself around and around and purring.

There was this feeling of full in my chest, maybe the happiest I’d been.

Outside, it was another world. The sky was normal, the earth was still. Some slush of snow was on the ground. The van was not a hurried evacuation, it had a mini-bar and vibrated with bass.

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In my waking anxieties and in my nightmares, I had never been reunited. Things didn’t end well. My world has fallen apart. Maybe I’m evolving. Maybe animals can heal us when other humans can’t. Maybe I just really love my cat. It was another random series of images and stories that my brain put together while I was sleeping, but it felt like a turning point. A break in a cycle.

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Header image courtesy of St. Francis Elevator Ride. To view his artist feature, go here.

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Fiona George

Fiona George was born and raised in Portland, OR, where she's been lucky to have the chance to work with authors like Tom Spanbauer and Lidia Yuknavitch. She writes a monthly column "In This Body" for NAILED Magazine, and has also been published on The Manifest-Station, and in Witchcraft Magazine.