I’ve read a couple of “How’d I get here?” blogs. I like them. They inspire me.
The first thing I remember writing was in second grade, to my teacher Mrs. Holdereid. She lived down the street from me, actually. 2nd grade really didn’t have classes I remember. I only remember a class assignment I drooled over. She told us to write out our worst nightmares ever (read that with a childlike Evar). I raised my hand and asked, “Anything? The worst?”
“The worst thing you’ve ever remembered dreaming.”
So I did. It was terrible–my handwriting is still preposterous due to carpal tunnel–but I got a big, bubble-lettered page of it. I handed it in, thought nothing more of it.
Three days later, on a Saturday, she called me and my parents down to her house. She never did that before or since. I didn’t even know she lived on the street until then. I thought I was in huge trouble. As a kid, I also didn’t know what I did wrong, so I figured I’d steel myself against anything that I might or might not have done (I’ve been a troublemaker since I came out of the womb), and had an apology prepared.
She invited us in, offered me some milk or tea–I don’t remember which I drank, but I seem to remember tea–and sat us in plushy old maid chairs. My mom wrung her hands.
“The reason I called you down is I want you to pick another nightmare, Chris.” What? “It’s too scary.”
“What do you mean?” She said I could write anything. I raised my hand specifically. I remember that nightmare to this day. See, I suffered from night terrors when I was younger. And I still have the whole sleep paralysis thing going once in a while. So I had some doozies.
“What’s your second worst nightmare.” She looked at my mom in a kind of warm, smiling, well-meaning fear. “Can you tell me one?”
I felt crushed. At the time I was totally deflated. My worst nightmare was too scary. I knew my second-worst, my fifth-worst, my tenth worst nightmare would still scare the bajeezus out of anyone, so I went with my most recent one: garden-variety eyeball monster that came out of the sand on some beach. Cut and dry. She took it.
I’ve been writing my nightmares ever since, and just like the first time, still nobody wants to publish them. ~x