Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Catalog of Recurring Dream Locales

Nick Green
9 min readNov 4, 2022


After reading the story by Ossiana Tepfenhart about a fictional mall occurring in a dream, I remembered that I made a list of recurring dream locales about a decade ago (2011/06/20). I don’t much dream about these anymore, but there was a period of some years years where I’d revisit these places many times during my hours of slumber. I almost always had the goal of trying to get somewhere, but never made it to the intended destination before waking up.

Here is the original list. They are mainly based on real locations with changes and distortions as warranted by the path the narrative takes. There are three major criteria:

a) Accuracy — how close to the original the locale is

b) Distortability — the amount of physical distortion that skews size and dimension

c) Population — the number of other people in the area

[1] Home

Accuracy=9/10 | Distortability=3/10 | Population=2/10

Home is very much like the original, with the most accurate places being my bedroom, the kitchen, and some of the outside yard. The least accurate locations are the garage, the bathroom, and the rest of the yard. There is usually a moderate to high level of light but some scenes have been recorded in the dark. My usual goal is to perform some activity and I am often hindered by others or the environment itself. It is usually empty or just a few people around.

[2] Subdivision

Accuracy=7/10 | Distortability=8/10 | Population=4/10

The subdivision has decent accuracy, which decreases further away from frequently traveled areas. There is a high level of distortion along the roads, which increases travel time dramatically. The amount of foliage decreases towards the north and east. The back leads to the new sub and the stream while the front leads to the road. The front drive has a distorted steepness and the road borders an empty field of tall grass, either level or down a cliff drop. There are ornate lampposts but very few trees. My usual goals are either to get to/from home, or participate in some activity occurring in the vicinity of home. The former features few to no people while the latter can number up to a dozen or so. Time stretches from early morning to early evening which mostly appears at the front while day is common for the rest, though often cloudy.

[3] New Subdivision

Accuracy=6/10 | Distortability=6/10 | Population=0/10

The new subdivision is set during the early stages of construction, where there are just a few completed houses and lots of dirt. I spend little time here as my subdivision, and home, are the intended destination. The south connects to my subdivision, the southwest to the stream, and the north to school. It is usually cloudy. I have yet to encounter any other people in this location.

[4] Stream

Accuracy=3/10 | Distortability=7/10 | Population=5/10

The stream is a distortion of the road leading to the church. The park has been compressed and lengthened, with a stream of varying width added parallel the path. The path is a widened sidewalk, with some boardwalk elements near the water. There is a high level of foliage compared to most other locations. The weather is usually pretty nice and there are several dozen other people milling around, though I rarely interact with them. My goal is to get from one end to the other, on the way home.

[5a] School Exterior

Accuracy=4/10 | Distortability=5/10 | Population=3/10

The exterior of the school is bare, with just dirt or short, dry grass. The building form is accurate as is the road. The drive up to the school is highly distorted and stretches, with some of the elements of a vast parking lot. The goal is to either get to the school or leave it towards the new subdivision. The area that separates the two has a small wood and swamp. There are either no people or small groups of others at a distance.

[5b] School Interior

Accuracy=6/10 | Distortability=7/10 | Population=8/10

The interior of the school varies in its accuracy, with the large stairwells, some classrooms, and some locker bays being the best while hallways and other classrooms are the worst. The distortion lengthens halls, and the sizes of classrooms, particularly those at the center of the top floor. There are always tons of people around, more in the halls than the classrooms. More time is spent at the north end of the school than the south. There is a wing of unknown origin which contains smaller classrooms and windows that look out on portables. There is also a pool/gym wing, with locker rooms and showers. Here, details change swiftly so that going through a doorway will yield a different room each time. The goal within the main body of the school is to reach a specific location, usually across the center divide. The goal in the wing is often to find some person. In the pool/gym wing, I am usually trying to find or get away from someone, and often end up in a bathroom stall or shower.

[6] The Woods and Grandparent’s House

Accuracy=3/10 | Distortability=3/10 | Population=3/10

The woods here are very dense, with the house sitting towards the western edge. The house is very open but otherwise not very detailed. Most time is spent in the woods, which are filled with decking like the Ewok village. Distortion is comparably low and there are only sometimes a few people around. The lighting is usually bright, but filtered through the trees. The goal is to mill about the woods or head towards the beach.

[7] The Beach and Cliff

Accuracy=4/10 | Distortability=4/10 | Population=1/10

The edge of the woods runs up to a massive cliff that overlooks the beach. This cliff can range from tens of feet to hundreds. Getting to the beach from the top usually happens instantly. The beach itself is desolate, stretching off into the unseen distance at either end. The lake also stretches off into infinity, but is calm and never gets more than a foot or so deep where I’ve walked to, a few hundred feet away from shore. The surface beneath the water is much like a coral reef, but flat and safe to walk on. There are often interesting things in the water. Getting back to the beach, its width varies from a few feet to many. I almost always move to the north. Sometimes the beach is empty, sometimes there are large rock formations or swaths of seaweed. Usually the beach is empty but there have been one or two other people on rare occasion. My goal is usually just to walk around.

[8] The Mall

Accuracy=?/10 | Distortability=4/10 | Population=7/10

The mall has no single source, but is a mashup of a number of malls, shops, and other locales. There are two sections.

Section A is one floor, dark and without windows, and a singular path. It is shaped like a distorted letter Y. The color theme is a sandy yellowish brown. One of the branches leads to a wide area where many stores are collected. I think a movie theater or arcade may be here. One branch wends its way towards an exit, where it turns into a kind of storefront seen at tourist attracting spots. There is a nautical theme. The final branch leads to Section B. At the joint, there is a large toy/game/candy store.

Section B is several floors, about five or six, and is more open and airy. It is shaped a bit like a horseshoe, with a few short branches leading off the main path. It connects to Section A near the end of the loop. There is a large skylight and the color theme is white. The shop types are more upscale than Section A.

The goal in Section A is to get from one endpoint to another, sometimes detouring through shops. The population varies from few to many. The goal in Section B is unknown, but seems to be trying to get away from something. The population is usually many people.

[9] The Hotel and Theme Park

Accuracy=?/10 | Distortability=2/10 | Population=6/10

I call it the hotel for want of a better word. It is a tiered structure of at least twenty floors. The lowest floor is something like the entrance to an airport but the rest is very upscale with large planters and ornate lampposts. The path of each level is about 10 feet wide. There are a number of staircases that lead through the levels, also quite wide. The whole thing is covered by enormous panes of slanted glass, which makes it like a gigantic pyramid. The population isn’t very dense, the the sheer size of the place gives it a large total.

It may be floating in the sky, because through a forgotten region it connects to a staircase that leads to a section of a theme park. The path is snakelike and the rides are all small. The only specific ride I can remember is a log flume that is constantly getting stuck. I think there might also be a mini-coaster for small children. A narrow stream flows along the path. The population here is accurate to a real theme park.

The goal within the hotel is unknown, as is the lighting and the view through the glass. The goal within the theme park is to either ride the log flume or walk along the path, a difficult task with the number of people present. The lighting is bright and sunny.

[10] Grocery Store

Accuracy=8/10 | Distortability=3/10 | Population=2/10

Based on my old workplace, accuracy is high for much of the locale. Unlike other places, it is always night and very dark. The road is full of traffic and moves at a snail’s pace. Inside however, there is rarely anyone shopping with just cashiers at the front end. The bulk of the store is unknown. The back is distorted, and contains a great number of chambers, many with low lighting. Occasionally people may walk past back here. My goal, outside, is to avoid the traffic. Inside, I try to get to the back and walk around.

[11] Mansion A and Mansion B

Accuracy=5/10 | Distortability=4/10 | Population=2/10

Mansion A is based on my old house, but expanded to become a fancy place. The back of the house has become the front and has been expanded to three floors. Materials are nice.

Mansion B has an unknown base, but seems to be cobbled together from IKEA and Home Depot room examples. The front of the first floor has a couple sitting rooms on either side of the front door. A living/dining room comes off the back of the left one while the right one leads to a kitchen. Going up the stair leads to some more purposeless rooms. Following some halls leads to another stair that goes up two floors, with a balcony and a few rooms on the first, and a gigantic master bedroom on the second. This part is made up of rooms one would find in a typical suburban home, but with some fancy things like columns.

Sometimes there are people around but rarely in the same room as I am at the time. My goal is to explore the house, often moving up rather than down. Lighting is dark in A but light in B.

[12] The Harbor Road

Accuracy=4/10 | Distortability=2/10 | Population=7/10

The harbor road is based on the harbor from the town my grandparents live near. It is mostly straight and infinitely long, as if it were procedurally generated. One side is the water, lake or ocean, with a foot path and all the boats in slips. The other side is high hills of grass and a few trees. Sometimes there are islands or another shore across the water. The scene is almost always night, but not an ordinary night, more like twilight or sunrise. The sky is dark and often full of stars but the environment is light enough to be day.

The road is almost always traversed by a bus full of people. We are trying to escape from an unidentified source of trouble.

I have a couple other observations to make about my dreams, but I’ll save those for another piece.