Stairwells and nightmares

December 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm (Intro)

Tonight the lights went out in our building for about an hour and a half.  This is no big deal compared to nearby places where the power was our for a few days.  But this time, it made me think of how the familiar can become incredibly sinister.

I was just loading the car with a bunch of groceries, including perishables, when my nice neighbor called to tell me not to hurry home. Oh boy.  When I got home, the block was deserted. It’s usually hard to find parking but this time I found a spot immediately in front of our building. I walked in to the building not needing my key (creepy!) and became disoriented right away.  I’ve walked into this building a few hundred times and know where each staircase is, every door.  And yet, this time I struggled.  Walking up the stairwell, carrying a few bags of groceries made me nervous.  Each time I’d lift my foot, slowly sliding it along the next step, one hand grasping the wall.  Each of the 28 steps was taken so slowly, with great trepidation, yet I’d ascended and descended these stairs more times than I could count.  Once I got into my apartment, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew where the candles were,  found the matches quickly in the bathroom, and soon the apartment was bathed in the warm glow of candlelight, but the time in between walking into the door of our building and getting that first candle lit felt like forever.

The stairwell was unnerving, and when the neighbor knocked on our door, responding to my invitation to play cards, I jumped a little, anxious about opening the door.  Thinking about these feelings makes me think about nightmares, dreams in which the familiar becomes truly uncomfortable and moves into terrifying, dreams that happen at night and in the dark.  Just an odd connection, for what is more sinister than nightmares.

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