The first dream I remember goes way back to the first apartment I remember living in, on Via Real in Carpinteria. I must have been around three years old. It was nighttime in my bedroom, and I got up because I heard a voice talking to me from inside the wall. In that room there was a big wooden structure that my parents had built for me. It had a ladder on one side, a square platform on top that you could hang out on, and a slide to get down. The voice was coming from the wall underneath that structure. There was open space beneath the platform, and I walked into the shadows under it and up to the wall. I don’t know what the voice was saying, but whatever it was, I knew there was a malevolent force behind it.
As I stood there watching the blank wall, a goat head emerged from it and looked at me. Then two long horns came out of either side of the head and stabbed me in the stomach. Then the horns retracted into the head and the head retracted into the wall. It might have come out and stabbed me once more, I’m not sure.
I woke up crying and ran into the living room where my parents were still awake. I told them about the dream, and they comforted me. And I swear I had two little red marks where the horns had stabbed me.
For years afterward they kept referring to a dream I had where some guy punched me in the stomach, and it took a long time for me to realize that they were talking about this dream. I must not have described it very well at the time.
The next dream takes place at my preschool. I was a big fan of King Kong (1933) when I was little, and I had probably just watched it for the first time. In the dream I was out behind the preschool in Carpinteria, in the big playground area, and King Kong was roaming around terrorizing the kids and trying to catch one. As far as I remember, the playground consisted of a big dirt lot behind the classrooms, set a few feet below the ground level of the buildings. There was a jungle gym way over on one side, a seesaw, some other little structures, and a bunch of empty space to run around.
I was near the jungle gym, and I managed to run most of the way back over to the classroom buildings before King Kong took notice of me. I ducked inside, and he reached his hand in after me, but he was too big. He couldn’t get at me. Finally he gave up and went to try and eat someone else. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to go back outside, and when I did I saw a stegosaurus lumbering by on the far end of the dirt lot. King Kong was nearby, but not within immediate reach, and he was going after some other little kid.
Then, because I was so fucking terrified, I tried to wake up. The only thing I could think to do was try to open my eyes, so in the dream I opened them as wide as I could, and a strange thing happened. An eye-shaped hole opened up in the scenery, obscuring the trees beyond the dirt lot by the stegosaur, and through it I could see my bedroom, bright morning light illuminating it. Then the hole closed. Like an eye blinking open and shut, the top and bottom lines meeting at sharp angles on either side. I tried this a couple more times, and finally I woke up. I tried and tried to open an eye-hole in my dreams after that, but I never could.
Years later I had another dinosaur dream. This time I was in second or third grade, and I was at my school in Santa Barbara. There was a T-rex chasing us around and trying to eat us, but I don’t think it was as big as it should have been, because I came up almost to its chest. So really it wasn’t much bigger than a man. I just remember being on one side of it and having nowhere to go; the only escape was on the other side. So I tried to run past it, but it put its hands on its hips like an angry mother (I know T-rexes can’t really do this with their stubbly little arms) and then stuck its right arm out to block my path. That’s it.