It’s the only way to describe the atmosphere into which I wake. I’ve been somewhere in my mind – asleep – just moments before and the impressions left on my person in that world still cling to my senses. Like streaked rivulets on a fogged glass window, tiny sharp-focused streams of clarity run through the blurred partition between dream and reality.
I feel things in my sleep.
I smell, taste, hear, touch.
We all see when we dream.
But for me, there are times my five senses collide in such a way that my dreams are real. I smell things in my sleep – things that are not there in my waking world – that pull me from one realm into the other, and the scent stays in my nostrils after I wake. I taste things in my dreams and wake with the sensory impression on my tongue. I hear voices, clear and cocophanous, the exact tone and volume I experience them in real life. I feel heat and cold and texture, pain and pleasure, moisture, dryness, smooth and scratch, pressure and lightness. Touch – given and received – is vivid and beautiful and arousing and terrifying.
There are times these things coalesce into a long lazy drift to wakefulness, dreamscape and reality intermixing in a blended cocktail of flavorful delight. Those are the times I savor the sensations I carry forward from dream to reality, feeling the press of his lips against the heat of my skin, the sting of wet suction from his mouth on my nipple, the caress of cool air fanning sweat-beaded brow, the mingled scent of exertive sex, the low growl of his voice in my ear. When the salt-tang drip of his pre-cum stays on my tongue after opening my eyes from the dream I recently inhabited, I smile at the realness of the flavor – is it memory or desire? – licking my lips with a satisfied hum.
He’d appreciate the sound if he was here.
But he’s not. When I’ve woken from the dream we so recently inhabited together, I find myself alone.
Sometimes the reality I wake to makes me wish I could live in my sleep.
Other times the nightmares I wake from stay with me – they stick to me, sensorily – in such a way that I cannot imagine voluntarily going to sleep ever again. Those are the times I stumble to the bathroom and gag on my toothbrush, unable to scrub away the stomach-churning taste of burnt eggs or the metallic bite of blood. I’ve woken with a migraine from consuming a food trigger in a dream because the taste is so vivid in my mouth as to be real. I have wretched upon waking because I was forced in my nightmare to chew and swallow something I abhor, and its pungent offensiveness cannot otherwise be expunged.
I have smelled smoke so cloying that I claw my way from the depths of slumber at 3:00 a.m. in fear, the acrid vapor assaulting my nostrils and stealing my breath. And with the scent so strong I can taste it, I drag my body from bed to search the whole house for signs of fire. It is only when I am 100% certain there are no sparks to be seen that the dream’s impression dissipates and I can breathe easy again.
But I cannot sleep easy. Not after a night like that.
The carryover disturbs the atmosphere, and even though it leaves me exhausted, I cannot feel safe in my bed to sleep.
Sometimes it’s just odd. I ponder the content and the context of my dreamscape adventures, trying to piece together the visual impressions in such a way that the sensory stimulations make better sense. An attempt to make conscious sense of the unconscious.
Sometimes it’s sweet, or nostalgic, or inspiring. Hearing my great-grandmother’s voice clear and strong and feminine, reading to me from ancient primers; feeling the rough re-glued ivories of her farmhouse parlor piano under my fingertips; tasting the sugar-specked grapefruit flesh pulpy and tang-sweet against my tongue as we eat breakfast together again, every detail as vivid and real as it was when I was eight years old.
Other times it’s erotic and exciting and emotional and intense. The saturated commingling of my wet with his drip, sliding soft and wet, skin-on-skin, against his velvet hard in slow deliberate frottage; the blending of breath, brushing lip to lip in hitch and catch and stuttered exhale, bite and plea and sigh and moan; the goose-pimple shiver of exposed flesh contrasting with the sweat and sear of our bodies rubbing together, every particular driving me closer to orgasm.
While dreaming like this, I have quite literally come awake.
But coming awake isn’t always a clear-cut division of night-before and morning-after. At least it isn’t for me. The sensory dreams linger, and it isn’t always pleasant.
Last night was One Of Those Nights.
It will fade. It always does.
But right now, it lingers. And I’m disturbed.