Monday, September 24, 2007

Only in Dreams

Ever since I had surgery in May I've been having troubling dreams. Actually I have troubling dreams all the time—mild nightmares, I'd call them, mostly involving me being naked (no, seriously)—but these are different.

In case you didn't know, I ripped my poor left ACL cleanly in two on the slopes of Brighton last March. Since then you can count the steps I've run, the jumps I've made, and the pivots I've turned all on one hand. It's been a slow six months or so, and since I put off surgery until school got out, I still have a couple months of walking to do, all the time imagining how I won't be able to pursue a pickpocket who snatches my wallet or defend myself effectively against a maniac with murder in his eyes (no really, I imagine this all the time).

So imagine my [insert emotion here] when I started having scary dreams about running and jumping. It happens once a week or so: I'll be dreaming about some situation in which I must do something considered dangerous for someone in my condition. I'll be playing tag or basketball, and my sleeping mind will flinch at the image of me doing something I've committed not to do. My mind will be yelling in vain protest at what my body is doing (aren't all scary dreams variations on this theme?1), and I'll wake with the lingering feelings of danger and regret tripping on the heels of my relief that it wasn't real after all. Would you call these nightmares? They seem to me to be anxiety dreams, similar in every way to my fairly commonly recurring dreams about smoking or drinking or smooching girls I know I shouldn't or showering in the middle of a crowded room—things I wouldn't normally do but find myself doing against my better judgment when the ego has gone to bed.2

But in good news, last night I dreamt I broke into a run and it felt great and there was no moment of horror. I attribute this to the fact that last Saturday, after cleaning the church and lying on the gym floor and agreeing with Joey that I do have something in common with Dewey Finn, I did one wild lap around the place when Joey and Callan declared a brief dodge ball war on me. "I'm running!" I shouted in real life, first in disbelief and with a tinge of the dreamy fear of past nights; "Look at me—I'm running!" I repeated in shock and joy as my left leg didn't cry out in pain or weakness for the first time since March 9th. It was one of those moments when my own voice surprised me—I hadn't registered as much emotion in seeing the words on the chalkboard in my mind as I heard in my voice when they came out of my mouth.

It is a welcome surprise.

1Scary movies as well. We all silently or vocally wish the actors to do something different—to not wander into those scary woods, to not turn their backs on that doorway, to not trip every time they run—but of course they don't respond to our wishes. Actually, for the first few weeks after I hurt my knee I would have these odd moments of disconnection when a movie's protagonist jumped up out of a chair or nimbly hopped over a puddle with no thought or precaution for their left knee. How much do we project ourselves into movies we see?
2Should I be proud or ashamed?

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Next: Bike Europe.