I was talking to a friend this past weekend about dreams, and I laid down the revelation that I’ve only ever remembered a handful of mine after I’ve woken up. And I couldn’t tell you about any of them now, either. That’s not to say I don’t dream. I hope I dream. I can’t imagine not dreaming. I suppose my dreams aren’t memorable enough. Stephenie Meyer, the author of the somehow best-selling Twilight series, insists the storyline came to her in a dream. Or at least parts of it. Good for her, I say. I wish that happened to me. I have to dig deep to find things to write about. I wish I could dream about sparkly fucking vampires and make millions. And let’s not forget one of the most stereotypically pathetic female lead of all time. Until she’s gains supernatural powers. But whatever, this post isn’t about that.
While I don’t dream, including nightmares or the sticky sheet variety ones, I did suffer another affliction in my comatose hours that nearly led me to serious trouble. And no, I’m not talking about whispering or mumbling that someone’s “sister is better in the sack” or someone’s “best friend does this amazing thing with their tongue” when I’m sleeping. Nope, I don’t sleep talk. Sorry to disappoint you all. I don’t snore either, apparently. And while I admit to being a thermal radiator, giving off more heat than a wood-fired pizza oven (mmm, pizza), I’m not talking about that either. Instead, in a very long-winded, round-about way, I’m talking about how I am a recovering sleep walker.
I haven’t done so for a long time. Well, I currently sleep alone so I have no verifiable proof of this, but my cats would let me know in no uncertain terms if I disturbed their sleep at night so it is a very safe educated guess that once I’m tucked into my covers in my sexy-ass pajamas (read “boxer shorts”), I don’t move. I don’t fidget too much either. Just so you all know. I’m a people person. I’m trying to make your life a little brighter right now. No need to thank me.
Growing up in the home I did, meant the biggest worry my sleep walking would get me was the possible tumble down the 15 or so stairs that led to the main floor. As far as I recall, this never happened. But one occasion sticks firmly in my mind. A near death experience? I have no idea. But it could have been a lot worse than it was I suppose.
I spent most of my summers out fishing and camping and hiking in the foothills and Rocky Mountains of Alberta. And the further and more I travel, the more I remember just how beautiful my own backyard was when I was growing up. Dad would get 6-8 weeks off every year, and most of that was spent in the summer months taking me and my little sister on adventures. For the most part, dad did most of the work. He’d set up camp, cook, chop firewood, start the fire. All we had to do was help with dishes and I used to have to blow up the air mattresses we slept on (until dad finally revealed he had a pump he could plug into the cigarette light in the truck and have it done in mere moments). As I got older, I would do more things. I loved being responsible for cooking our meals. But that’s another story.
Whenever we’d go to Jasper National Park, our favoured campsite was called Whistler, underneath the shadow of Whistler Mountain and the gondola that took hundreds of people to the top to enjoy fantastic views of the area. Whistler was also known for its resident herd of elk that were about as common in the campsite as Japanese tourists with socks up to their knees and cameras around their necks (this was the 80s – this shit did happen – again, another story altogether). One particular trip we’re staying there. Upon entry into the National Park they give out pamphlets outlining the fire hazard rating, and usually bear warnings, reminding people that this is not a zoo and that wild animals roam freely so they should take precautions.
The view from the top station looking down towards the gondola and Jasper below. (Image taken from
We’re about ready for bed, my little sister and I back from the toilets having washed up and brushed our teeth, and dad has gone through the campsite making sure there is nothing lying around that would be attractive to a bear or other animal. And both my sister and I knew that nothing remotely food related was allowed in the tent. We couldn’t even have a snack in there in the middle of the day if it was raining. Dad took no chances. But there are some things not even super-prepared camping dads can do. And one of them is stopping his sleep walking son.
When dad woke up the next morning I wasn’t in my sleeping bag inside the warm tent (we had a kerosene heater that would keep it nice and toasty). He thought that maybe I had woke up and needed to go to the bathroom. My sister was still asleep so he got up and left the tent, the zippers to both the tent and the rain screen still done up. He got the camp stove from the car and took it over to the picnic table where he noticed something rather peculiar – his 13 year old son curled up in a ball, fast asleep on the concrete base under the picnic table. No covers, no sleeping bag, just there in his pajamas. Dad woke me, and I was completely unaware that I had left the tent or when.
Remarkably, I had stopped to do the zippers on the tent back up when I left. As dad and I prepared breakfast and cleaned up, he noticed that we had had a visitor during the night. Near the car, a few meters from the picnic table, was a fresh pile of bear crap. Not exactly experts in the fecal matter of bears, we don’t know exactly how long it had been there, but it wasn’t there when we went to sleep. There is no way of knowing if I was already in my new tent under the picnic table when the bear came through our campsite, or if I had journeyed out to my 2-star accommodation after he had paid us a visit. Regardless, it could have been a very interesting end to a sleep walking session.
I had to have my second shower within around 12 hours as my feet were filthy from traipsing across the dirt campsite without socks or shoes on. I was camping. I wasn’t supposed to be clean! That, my friends, is the worst part of sleep walking for a 13 year old.