LI JIA: I haven’t been dreaming for a long time now, maybe for about a year. When I was 13, I had the same dream two or three times a week for a whole year. It was one of the most scary dreams I ever had, I’m still scared when I think about it now. In the dream, there was a building, which looked like an old factory but it didn’t have any doors. It had about 30 or 40 floors, it was so high that I couldn’t see the top of it. The sky was clouded and it was a rather gloomy day, with quite depressive colours. The building had no doors but it had many windows which looked all exactly the same. I was standing at the foot of the building when the dream started, and I got very scared. I don’t remember when I had this dream for the first time, but later I always knew in the dream that the same thing would happen again. I was very frightened but I couldn’t run away, I couldn’t move. Then a person appeared behind each window. They all looked the same. I couldn’t see their faces clearly but I knew it was the same person. It looked as if the same program were playing on many different TVs, the same person over and over again. As soon as this person appeared behind the windows, I was able to run away. There was a very long road leading away from the building and I wasn’t wearing any shoes. Maybe I had shoes but I couldn’t put them on, I had to run on my bare feet and the road was very smooth and slippery, like the skin of a loach. So I had to run as best as I could.
While I was running I worried that I might stumble and fall. I don’t know how long this dream lasted, but as soon as I would start to feel tired of running, I would stumble and fall. Then I’d wake up. I had this dream many, many times. I would have it on Monday and then again the following Monday or Tuesday. The day after having this dream, I would always be in a very bad mood and feel very scared. Later I became afraid of walking along the foot of tall buildings. I never do that. I don’t remember when I stopped having this dream or when it had started. The dream was always the same and would repeat over and over again like a loop. Then at one point I stopped having this dream and after that moment I almost had no nightmares anymore.
I also had another recurrent dream that made me feel happy and comfortable, although it is also quite an exhausting dream. It seems all my dreams are exhausting. In this dream, I could fly. I remember the dream very well. The apartment where I lived was on the 7th floor and my dream started at the window of my apartment. I could fly, but not like Superman or like a bird or an angel. I was more like riding a bicycle, I had to pedal a lot. But I didn’t have any tool or machine, nothing at all, I was just standing there at the window and started pedalling. The faster I pedalled, the higher I went. I could fly over the whole city and look at it from above. If I pedalled more slowly I’d go down. So in my dream I could fly everywhere. I have no motorbike or car, the bicycle is the only means of transportation that I know, so maybe I thought that flying would be similar to riding a bike. It was a great feeling to be able to fly that high. I always tried to reach the top of my building, where the antenna is. Sometimes I would go up really high and then when I got tired I would slowly come down again. Sometimes I would fly above the streets and see a lot of people. I saw young people and adults, but no old people. They would always cheer for me as if they were seeing Superman or a hero. They would also jump and try to catch me, but I was flying high above their heads and they couldn’t reach me. I would fly from one place to another, sometimes I would take a rest on a basketball hoop.
I had this dream many times, though not as many times as the nightmare. The places I was flying over were always different. Sometimes I would fly over fields, sometimes over cities, or through narrow streets and alleys. They looked like the alleys in Shanghai or Suzhou, not as big as the ones in Beijing. They were quite narrow, I could touch the windows on both sides if I stretched out my arms as I flew through them. At that time I hadn’t been to Suzhou yet. When I went there later in my life, it was very much like it had been in my dream, the river also looked very similar. Sometimes I would fly over big cities and circle around the top of very tall buildings. I always dreamt about flying at night, never during the day. I could see the stars, sometimes the sky was of a greyish blue. I never dreamt about seeing the moon or anything bright. When I woke up from this dream, I always felt as if I had been running, it was very exhausting. But it always made me feel happy. I guess it’s just like someone who has been working a lot and then spends the whole day walking outside and having fun. In the evening his body is tired but he is in a good mood. This is my happy dream.
My dreams always repeat over and over again. I have a scary dream and a happy one, but there is another dream, which is quite depressing for me. I used to be a singer in a band and I always wanted to write a good song, a real hit, but I never managed to do so. From time to time, I would dream about rehearsing with the band. In those dreams, every movement and every note was just perfect, so perfect that if I could write it down it would be a song that everybody would like. The lyrics and the feelings were always very clear in my dream and I was very excited, I thought I could finally write a song that I would be satisfied with. But when I woke up I couldn’t remember anything, not even a single note. It was very depressing. I would try again and again, I would spend many hours trying to remember just one word or one note, but I didn’t remember anything. After this had happened a number of times, I just gave it up. I said to myself “It’s just a dream, maybe it has do with my life situation.” At that time, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t want to work. I wanted to be a musician and spent the whole day practicing. At one point I got really fed up with this dream because it made me feel so bad.
I also had other dreams that are similar to these. For example, once I dreamt that I jumped off a very tall building but I didn’t die. I woke up before I reached the ground. In another dream I was thrown on the street with no clothes on. But I only rarely dream things like these.
I played in a band from 1997 to 2001 or 2002. Now I still like playing music with friends, or writing songs on the computer, but I wouldn’t do it for a living anymore. I used think that if I did what I like best, I would become one of the best. But that meant that I had to stay in Beijing, and I don’t like living there at all. I don’t need a lot of money, but there are other things that are important to me. For example, let’s say I don’t want to work today, maybe I want to go to Yunnan instead. In Beijing I can’t do that, but here I can go immediately. If I don’t want to eat at home today, if I want to go to the seaside or to the mountains and have a romantic day, then I can go immediately. I want to be able to realize my ideas. If I depend on music to make a living, I can’t have the kind of life that I want. So I prefer to have a job. I can still play in a band for myself, for fun.