Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fear (but little loathing) in New York

I've felt scared, like, twice in my five years of living in New York (my 5th anniversary is the end of April! Huzzah!). Both times I was walking through a neighborhood that I didn't know at all, alone, late at night. This combination would probably frighten me anywhere, though. And, more than I felt scared that someone would attack me in some way, I was fearful that I would simply not be able to find my way home easily. But, I'm home now, so all's well that end's well.

Lately, though, I've had several dreams about being attacked while walking alone in New York. Some of these dreams take place at night, and some in broad daylight. I know that they are just dreams/nightmares, but they feel very real and I often wake up sweating. In the morning, my legs are often sore from what I can only imagine is me actually running while in bed (true goodness is any person who sleeps next to me putting up with that). The attacks often vary in the dream -- anything from what I would imagine to be a "standard" mugging, to a rape, to a slit my throat and I die right there on the street corner like an overcharging crack-addicted hooker. These dreams, thankfully, fade pretty quickly after I've woken myself up. But, occasionally they creep into my waking life when I am walking alone at night. Which, if one wants to get around here after 7pm, one just has to do, ya know? That's when I have a mini anxiety attack and try to breathe my way through it while trying not too look too conspicuous. If I were Mikey in The Goonies, I would grab my inhaler and puff it all away. But I haven't had an inhaler since I was 13, and even then it didn't really have the same comedic affect.

In my daily life, I've probably never felt safer living here. I work just off Sixth Avenue, which has never not been busy, and my walk from my office building to the train is exactly two and a half blocks. I inhabit a very well-lit, populated neighborhood, where I live on a main street in a fairly large building. If I screamed, half of 86th Street would certainly hear me. And I know how to scream. Max Hunsicker used my wondrous cheerleader vocal chords in not one, but two high school musical productions. No, not those high school musicals.

But I'm not over-confident, either. Not that nothing could ever happen to me. Of course it could. And if it does, I took a self-defense class in college that could prove to be of some use to me. Or, at the very least, I can knee someone sort of hard.

My last memory of having similar dreams/nightmares to these was like a million years ago (or, um, 6?). If I'm playing college freshman taking psych, I would add that I was also at the beginning of a new relationship then (other than that, I can't think of a single thing that is the same). So that means that subconsciously I feel "attacked" by a new presence in my life? Or do I need to go back to Psych 205 with Lewindowski?

Thoughts? Tricks to make the bad dreams go bye-bye? My dear 7 readers, enlighten me!

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