Voices of Berlin is Berlin Untelevised‘s monthly Lives project. This project is to show the connection behind real lives within this both crazy and wonderful city by asking it’s many residents one question or theme a month. Our ultimate goal is to curate a collection of accounts on many topics, ending each month with an abstract poem created through that month’s selection of responses and, thus, transform Berlin into a poet.
February‘s theme for Voices of Berlin is My Worst Nightmare.
“I’m very fascinated by dreams that I remember. I know one thing that just terrifies me and will always go back and forth in my brain. It’s common: being claustrophobic. Being locked into something somehow like… I’ve had really weird dreams.
So, one that I had a lot when I was younger was that I was in a tunnel and, it sounds really dramatic, but there was a light in front at the end of the tunnel. It was like I was in the underground and the walls became smaller and smaller and I was going quicker and quicker but I never reached the light. There’s a whole thing about being crushed while going quicker, not getting out and you have no control.
Then there’s one that’s quite funny that I had when I was about 14. I was actually screaming so bad that my dad could hear me from the 1st floor – we had two floors – and he had to come up and take me down to the kitchen, half-sleeping and freaking out basically. I thought my whole body was swelling up, you know like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where she becomes a blueberry? I saw my dad below, I was looking down on him and I was up high because I’d blown up and soon I was going to explode if the room didn’t get bigger. So, that was claustrophobia too, there was no space for me to blow up.
There was a third dream that I had recently that I was locked in a really small room, on top of a house and the window was too small, no one could hear me and there was no door out. I just knew I was going to die there. It was terrible and I didn’t know what to do. Eventually, in my dream, I just became super small and managed to jump out the window, all the way down to the ground and survived somehow, so… I overcame the fear.”
“I had a recurring nightmare when I was a kid. It was that I was falling down a bottomless hole and being chased by a giant leaf. I used to call out in my sleep “I’m afraid of the giant leaf! I’m afraid of the giant leaf!” And I was, I was terrified I used to wake up in a cold sweat and crying, but I was young you know, 8, 9, 10 maybe. I’m not sure there’s not much meaning you can put on that, maybe it was a premonition about an environmental disaster? But I don’t like interpreting dreams.”
“It’s hard, I’m not dreaming. I’m not actively imagining a nightmare too much, too often, too focused, too intensely, you know what I mean? One of the biggest nightmares I had… I had many nightmares when I was a kid, some spooky, some screaming ones, some burned in my mind. I’m waking up at about 12 and I can’t find anybody. My parents are gone, I’m ringing at the neighbours and want to ask what’s happened but nobody’s there. Everyone left me. Everybody gone. Probably still a nightmare today even though I don’t have it actively, don’t get me wrong, we all dream every night, we can’t change this, but many can’t sort through it and remember it. I probably have this nightmare still but just can’t remember it.”
“My worst nightmare is being on a plane, crashing in the middle of the ocean and surviving, being alone in the middle of the ocean. Not finding your way out, just being there. Time goes by, and I’m just there with nothing to do except float. If you’re crashing and you’re dead, you’re dead it’s over but if you survive, it’s just now it’s just existing. I don’t even mean the sharks and things happening and the big waves and stones, sure that’s scary, but mainly the loneliness of just floating in the middle of the ocean, not knowing where you are or if anyone will ever come.”
“So I had this recurring nightmare as a child. So my dad was always really into music, but it was always my mum, my mum that took me to this concert which is weird cause it was always my dad that did that kind of stuff. She knew the band so we would go backstage and we got separated somehow, they would take me into one room and take her into another room. Then, I would come back into this other room and they’d have this cake, I’d slice the cake and my mother’s head would be in the cake. I was traumatised by this, I had it so many times. I would wake up from this nightmare and then sneak into my parents’ room and just check that they were both still there and both ok. Somehow, I was scared that they’d been replaced by aliens or some shit. I know that has nothing to do with the dream, I don’t know why, but I’d go in and just check and just by seeing them I knew that they weren’t… even though if they were really clones… I wouldn’t know. But I knew when I saw them it was all OK.”
“I’m always thinking of the worst possible outcomes of everything. Actual nightmare-wise, I have a really recurring one where I’m stuck in a room with people I know and the room starts shrinking and there’s always a spider in the corner of the room. The room will always shrink but the spider gets bigger and eventually the spiders on me. I always wake up just as the spider is about to get me. The most recent one I actually felt the fur.
My worst nightmare, in reality, I don’t even know… I think… My family is in England. My mum is in Egypt. I’m here. It’s a reasonable thought, but if I did something to piss off the Egyptian government I wouldn’t be able to go back there, or it would at least be harder to go back there. I would have that part of my life taken away from me. I’m just afraid a part of my life will be taken away. Someone I Iove that I won’t be able to see any more. But there are some things that are inevitable. And I know that if I do something stupid that I’ll fuck it up for myself. Like… A family member dying, there’s nothing I can do about that. But if I did something stupid to myself… All the worst things that have happened to me have been from me… I am the person who has fucked up my life the most. I’m English which means my government’s pretty nice, I have international privilege and my passport gives me so much power… there’s nothing really that could kill me except myself or doing something that pisses people off enough so that they’d want to kill me. It’s hard to say.
I guess that I would be unable to be around the places I call home, but also a nightmare is being stuck in one place. I can’t tell if that one is worse because like… I’ve always moved, always been living in different places, never stayed in one house for more than 4 years. Getting stuck in one place, being forced to be somewhere. It’d probably be good for me… but it’d have to be on my terms. That would suck. And if I was stuck in that room with the spider that’d be…. Really bad.
But you have to fight your nightmares. The reason why that’s not my worst worst nightmare because, in real life, I’d confront the spider. It’s not real. The spider is more real than my existential dread… but it’s more confrontable too. Y’know… smaller, squishier. But yeah, I always die in my dreams. One time the spider screamed “CONTINENTICIDE!” and then ate me.”
“The first thing I thought of when you said worst nightmare is being buried alive. I have a terrible fear of that. I remember I saw a movie, I can’t remember the name, it could have been a show actually, but the guy was buried inside a coffin and he was trying to get out. It just scarred me for life especially when I have to be inside anything confined like I was in this thing called the Tactile Dome and it was a kind of maze in the dark, and you were in there for 25 minutes going through little tunnels and slides and touching everything around you and it was completely dark… I almost went, I almost had a little, tiny panic attack but I didn’t. I’m a little bit claustrophobic but anyway, I just took a deep breath and just enjoyed it and yeah, it was a fun and scary experience, I actually did it again. But just being there inside and thinking Oh shit imagine if something just stops working and I’m just trapped in here… Like how long would it take for them to come rescue me?”
“To be honest, I can’t really remember dreams… but my worst fear at the moment is the future really. It sounds deep, but I guess everyone who is studying music or everyone who is in a similar situation to mine has this kind of thing where you think: Am I really doing the right thing? Or will I end up at 30 wondering why I chose to do music?
It’s mostly a career thing. I don’t want to end up doing the wrong job every day for the rest of my life. So that’s my biggest fear… Ending up in the wrong place and being forced to stay there.”
Remember to read the final poem inspired by February’s My Worst Nightmare accounts here. If you’re a Berliner, find out how to add a contribution by emailing the editor of Lives at lorathepoet(@)gmail.com.
The theme for March will be Autonomy.