A FEARY TALE
My childhood was marked by fears. Fears that normally couldn’t be. That is, if you could use ever apply the word “normal” in connection to this emotion. I never had a fear of spiders, heights, or monsters that could be hiding in my closet. Already as a young girl, my fears were closely bound to reality. Fears of loss, failure, deception, and disappointment.
Like every child, I wanted to be read bedtime stories at night. Stories that would help me sleep well and give me the feeling that there was no reason to fear the dawn. In contrast to the clichéd stories, I didn’t want to hear about elves, talking animals, or the inhabitants of distant planets. My father invented a fictitious character to transport me every evening to an increasingly perfect world. A little boy. And every night my father talked me about this little boy’s life. The life of Rudi Schunk. Night after night he recounted such detailed stories that at times I thought his suit and briefcase were a farce; that in reality he didn’t go to the office every morning, rather with the young boy through life.
My father told me about Rudi’s first day of school, and how he found out that it wasn’t such a bad place. How Rudi burned himself, because he forgot to turn the oven off. About his clothes getting ruined, because he’d rather be dressed stylishly than functionally as he prepared for a hiking trip. Rudi got a lot wrong, but he always learned from his experiences and never made the same mistake twice. And was happy. And I was happy with him. Rudi was my friend. You believe in friends – happily and without hesitation you put a bit of your life into the hands of friends. Totally normal.
One night when my father recounted another episode of Rudi’s life and, as always, embellished it with a hearty portion of reality, I had this dream. This dream would affect, consciously and sub-consciously, almost a decade of my life.
In the dream I stood on a ladder and everything was – just as I always wanted to hear in my bedtime stories and was thereby somehow influenced – alarmingly real. I saw myself climbing the ladder from our garden to high over our apartment on the second floor of a multi-family home.
I stood on the ladder, and everything was terrifyingly real. Details I can remember to this day – as if the blue dress I was wearing in the dream was hanging in my closet now.
As if my hair was falling in exactly exactly the same way across my shoulders, as in every image of this dream. As if I could still smell the late summer grass growing in the garden. Fragrant green, dried by the long summer. As if today I could still feel the brittle, decaying wood of the ladder I was climbing.