Weekly Writing Challenge: Sleepwalking in Winter

In the continuing attempt to challenge my creative self (or rediscover my creative self, as the case may be), I am picking up the gauntlet thrown down by the WordPress Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge and trying “something completely different” by just writing a story about a walk down memory lane, without the “crutch” of my photos or quotes as the primary focus!

When I was young, I had a tendency toward night terrors and sleepwalking.  I cannot say I remember much from most of my sleepwalking adventures, but I do have some vivid recollections of night terrors, even 40 or so years later.  I would not wake up whimpering about the scary monster and ask for a drink of water to make things better.  No, I would scream bloody murder from my basement bedroom in our 1960’s split-level style home; it was enough to wake the dead.  My mom apparently had moved to the undead stage by this point, and usually was able to sleep through it, while my dad was rudely awakened from his slumber and ended up trooping downstairs to deal with a daughter flailing about in her bed as if trying to exorcise a demon.  I remember one night, after my dad came downstairs and turned on my bedroom light, I was certain I could still see in vivid, full-color detail, playing like an action-adventure movie across my closet doors, a mob of angry people chasing me with knives!

The night terrors where I was able to emit a blood-curdling scream or two were more comforting, however (at least to me), than the nightmares where I awoke frozen in fright and unable to move a muscle or emit the slightest noise, due to the overwhelming fear permeating my body.  I do vaguely recall, as I dig into the foggy recesses of my memory banks, that on more than one occasion the immobility was due to the certain presence of someone or something lurking under my bed.  I suspect that on most of those occasions, I finally fell back into an exhausted sleep.

Nightmares, night terrors — nothing too unusual about those experiences while growing up.  As I noted, though, I also had a habit of sleepwalking quite frequently in my pre-adolescent years, and while I cannot remember most of those incidents, one does stand out in my mind — the time I left the house in the middle of winter.

Growing up, one of my neighborhood friends was Debbie.  She lived about a block away, just around the corner from my house, our homes connected by the city sidewalk.  We would ride bikes to each other’s houses in the summer, walk in the winter, and spend many an afternoon playing together inside or out.  Perhaps I was dreaming about getting together to play, but apparently, exploring the play adventure in the dreamworld was unsatisfactory, and my dream transformed into action.

At approximately 1:00 in the morning, Debbie’s parents were summoned to their door in response to the doorbell.  They opened the door to find Debbie’s friend (that would be me), standing on their doorstep in footie pajamas with no coat, eyes open, and asking, “Can Debbie come out and play?”  I suspect it soon became apparent to them that I was not awake.

Debbie’s parents sat me down in their kitchen and placed a coat around me.  They then called my parents to let them know that little Kat had chosen an inopportune time for a playdate — could we play another time instead?  My dad walked down the street to retrieve me and carry me home.  I was probably about seven years old.

Snowy South Dakota Day
A snowy South Dakota day ~ a few years before I tackled that sidewalk in my footie p.j.’s in the dark of night.

Reflecting back on this sleepwalking adventure, I have to ask myself, “what do I independently remember, and what do I think I remember because of the numerous times we have retold the story within the family and to others?”  As I sit today, I cannot recall leaving the unlocked house (our house was rarely locked during the day or night if we were in town, as was the case with most residents in a small town at that time).  What is amazing is that my dad did not wake up when the front door opened and the screen door shut behind me, because he was and is such a light sleeper on almost all other occasions.

I do not remember what must have been a shock of cold air to my body, clothed only in footie pajamas, having just emerged from a burrow of warm blankets in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter.  I did not wake up during my walk (or run as the case may have been) during the one block journey to my friend’s house.  Thankfully, I did not slip on the icy sidewalk with the plastic-like coating on the bottom of my pajama feet.  The first fuzzy memory I can recall from that night is waking up in Debbie’s kitchen, with her parents both looking at me.  I also can vaguely recall holding on to my dad as he carried me back home again.

I believe that night’s escapade prompted a more regular habit of locking the front door at night, although I never tried a midnight sleepwalking excursion again (at least none of which we are aware!).

Do you have a childhood memory that is a blur between what you think you recall and what is the repeated telling of the story of that memory?  Do tell!

Ciao! ~ Kat B.

P.S. Had to do a quick edit on this post, as I almost forgot the last step of the challenge:

At the end of your post, take a minute to reflect on the experience of creating it. Was it easier than you thought? Harder? Did you learn anything useful? Will you incorporate the new style into your repertoire? Would you try this exercise again with a different style?

I discovered it was fun to simply write!  Not write based on the stories a photo told, but to simply write.  It has been years since I have done that type of writing, and may actually consider responding to another DP Writing Challenge in the future, in addition to those fun Weekly Photo Challenges.  Thanks to WordPress for continuing to help some of us bloggers rediscover some of the creativity that often has been buried or suppressed over the years!

15 responses to “Weekly Writing Challenge: Sleepwalking in Winter”

    • Thank you, Rachael — I appreciate the comment, as I was a little nervous to focus more on a writing post than having the photography tell the story! ~ Kat


  1. I remember when my nana came to live with us as a child, she used to go on little ‘wanders’. I remember everyone running around trying to find her, and then leading her back to the house in her purple nighty. I think of one of my little ones out wandering in the middle of the night, I bet your parents were freaked out!


    • At least I had footies on my pajamas! I think my parents would have been more freaked out if they had discovered me missing, as opposed having a neighbor’s phone call wake them in the middle of the night to let them know I was safe and sound, but a little too early (or late) for a playdate! ~ Kat


  2. I don’t remember hearing you scream in the night (wish I slept so soundly now 🙂 !) but the sleepwalk to go play with Debbie has certainly been told many times within the family!


    • Thank you for reading. I can say I have no memory of any fear whatsoever from the night — bewilderment, perhaps! ~ Kat


      • It is probably a good thing you have no recollections as it may keep you from falling asleep as you fear your pending night adventures… 🙂
        Have a great day!


  3. Loved this! Now I know why you are such a night owl! You’ve inspired me to put pen to paper….


    • Just as you inspired so many students with your writing challenges year after year!! ~ Kat


  4. This is beautifully written, Kat. I have a terrible memory, especially of my childhood. But your post made me determined to try dreaming some of them back into my memory tonight!


    • Your comment makes me glad I hit “publish” (and I am taking much too seriously the mantra on my blog that we can always clean tomorrow — hadn’t planned on sitting and storytelling tonight, but it was so much better than doing dishes!) I hope to see a memory dug up from your dreams in one of your posts soon! ~ Kat


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