"Oh my Gawd," I muttered to myself, gasping for breath as I stood barefoot at the urinal. "What am I going to do? I can't go back to bed." I shrugged off my indecision, letting the elastic waistband of my boxer shorts SNAP back against my already burgeoning belly. "I'll just have to sleep on the floor."
Unconscious prospective lover? Roommate mid-coitus? No, no, nothing as cinematically collegiate as that. It was the intrusion of an owl that prompted me to leap groggily from my lofted bed, nearly six precarious feet to the ground. "AN OWL?!" Well, yes, I suppose that's not one many RA's have heard, wouldn't be too far from the reels of a young adult comedy. But this wasn't a prank of questionable amicability, a tale my roommate and I would later share as co-hosts relaying our origins. This was between my slumbering self and I.
Shrieks of terror rang through the upstairs level of my family home at least once a week throughout the duration of my high school career. Once my Dad even found me perched on top of my headboard, shrinking against the wall, far away from the imagined terror crawling over my bed. I believe it was a swarm of spiders that night, like many. Beats me why I didn't just flee my room as I would my third week in college. It'd happened often enough that my Mom refused to get out of bed for fear she would be bowled over, flung down the stairs. I don't begrudge her, though. I'm sure she would have rushed to comfort me had I been in the single digits like most children plagued by night terrors.
In hindsight, this was a clear case of puberty induced repression. As presidential inauguration follows election, the nocturnal outbursts trailed the appearance of my first real crush, across the aisle in US History. Even through a mouthful of braces he had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. This was certainly something my quaint conservative upbringing had not prepared me for. Thus, like many closet cases before me, I slammed the door on logic and hid it behind a heavy mental armoire called denial. But even the thickest oak couldn't contain the volume of my subconscious' lungs, the reverberations of my proverbial fists.
Thankfully I tended to yip and yelp only of insects and creatures and wasn't in danger of outing myself during the night; but that didn't make it any less embarrassing a revelation to my first college roommate. Odds were against making it through the semester shriek-free; so, naturally I took to a regimen of Tylenol PM. And naturally, it became ineffectual quickly.
By the grace of Gawd or grain alcohol, my roommate snoozed straight through my harrowing escape from the bird of prey. Waking up to find me on the floor may have inspired some questions, but the haze had been broken by the time I returned from the bathroom to find nothing but pillows above my tangled sheets. His ignorance didn't last much longer, though. By the middle of the second month I had hurtled from my loft again, this time proceeding to clutch my knee and scream, "OW! I BROKE MY LEG! I THINK I BROKE MY LEG!" "What?!" He peered down at me through bleary eyes, legitimately concerned. "Nah," I replied. "Go back to bed."
I'm just as casual about my sexuality now, but the night terrors still tend to pop up every couple months or so. While infrequent, they've morphed into a response to stress in general. Stress and horror films. There was a period of abundance last spring when my friend was on a kick of watching Discovery Channel's paranormal recounts in "A Haunting." After too many televised visions of demons I had to place a personal moratorium on mainlining fear. Without cable, myself, I've managed to keep my distance...Until recently.
My office-mates and I have the good fortune of being allowed TVs at work and one of the two with whom I share my square happened to stumble across the show a couple months back and soon it had made it's way into our daily viewing routine. As it's now become more of a quirk and less of a debilitation, my roommate encourages this appetite, hopeful I'll run screaming out of my room, YANK open the front door, and shout for her until movement in the downstairs apartment drags me to the surface...Again.
After a few weeks of continually uneventful nights, I left her alone for a long weekend of creepy silence and headed home to visit my family, sleep in my childhood bed. The mattress has been replaced, a dead treadmill stands wedged between one side and the wall, and opposite that is an ever-growing pile of the unwanted vestiges of my youngest sister's own childhood. "Oh. My. GAWD." My suitcase fell softly, anticlimactically against the carpeted floor. "If this doesn't inspire a night terror..."
"I don't know what will."
That may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but that one in the closet took me by surprise. Maybe it was more the segregation than the thought that those porcelain bitches with their life-like eyes had me surrounded; because I sailed through the weekend on a cloud of dreams. Well, one of them was a bit darker than the other, something to do with Stevie Nicks and I fleeing from a band of supernatural rapists. No screaming though. I'll take that both as a sign of emotional progress and a reaffirmation of my decision to spend $40.00 on that Fleetwood Mac 2009 Tour T.