There are those dreams that aren't just dreams. You feel more when you're submerged in them, and waking up from them is an incredible loss even when the dream is sad. I had one this morning and it reminded me that I've meant to put some of mine down here in a list. If you write a post with some of yours (and please do!), let me know.
1. Twelve years old. I dream that I have a friend who does not go to my school, who lives far enough away that asking my mother to drive me to her house is a thing I will rarely do. But I ask, and she sighs, and she picks up her patchwork-leather purse and drives me there, and B94 plays Madonna on the way. I can picture the Madonna poster on my friend's wall, which is the same as the one on mine. I get to her house and she bounces downstairs to see me and says you will never guess what I have. She is animated and laughs and is so, so happy to see me. I am so happy to see her too, just as happy as she is. We go upstairs to her bedroom and there is the poster, there is her white painted rocking chair with her childhood stuffed animals, there is the little wooden box where she hides cigarettes under a picture of her grandmother. We sit on her carpet and read magazines and do our makeup and talk about things I do not remember. There are salty, buttery pretzels in a big plastic bowl and Coke poured from a two-liter into plastic cups with small crunchy ice cubes. At one point I notice she is gone. I walk through her house hoping to find a little sister, her mother, anyone. Everyone is gone. I never guessed what she had, and she never showed it to me, and this makes the mystery worse. The front door is wide open and my mother's car is in the driveway. I walk to the car so slowly, hoping something will keep me back. The slide from joy to emptiness is so drastic that when I wake up, my stomach feels like I've just gone too many floors in a too-fast elevator. There has never been a time I remembered this dream without wishing I had her back, whoever she was.
2. Nearly sixteen. It's been around a week since my grandmother's sister has passed away. I dream a scene that happened in real life--my family in chairs at the funeral home, Aunt Lena in the casket at the front of the room, her daughter Patty nearby, in tears. I liked Aunt Lena but I love Patty; she is one of the few people who always talked to me as though I were an adult myself, she is glamorous and opinionated and I want to be her. The funeral director has begun to speak but when he refers to Aunt Lena he calls her Lucy. The first time it's like a glimpse into another world where someone else has passed, but then it happens again and again, and each time Patty shakes and cries and the people in the room lean toward each other and murmur. Finally Patty's sister-in-law cannot take it anymore and she approaches the funeral director and whispers to him, as if we didn't know what she was telling him. The man turns around to the casket and says, Sorry, Lena. But at that moment, Aunt Lena is sitting beside me in a flowered print dress, her hair crisply styled, and she is laughing uncontrollably. Oh, little girl, she says to me, and that is how I feel her, because this was her name for me. Oh, little girl, isn't this terrible? And she laughs and laughs some more.
3. Twenty-three. I fall asleep in my living room in an ancient recliner because there is another couple in my bed after a party. In the dream I am older, and I live in an apartment with many overloaded bookshelves. There is an ornate, beat-up red and gold rug on the living room floor and old leather couches and a glass coffee table cluttered with magazines, journals, a dinner-plate sized yellow glass ashtray and a giant French press. A mug sits on a square of paper towel that has been splashed brown with spilled coffee. The man on the couch is named Eamonn, and he wears a t-shirt and thin sweats and has rumpled sleep-hair. In the dream we have a conversation but I cannot hear what it's about--I know it's businesslike at first and then warm and then businesslike again and then very very warm. He eats strawberries and toast for breakfast and spills his coffee again and I know that I say I keep waiting to get over my infatuation with you and I never do and he says No, and you shan't and I say I will absolutely if you continue to say "shan't" and he says he will shan't me one way or another until he is through shan'ting and he drinks the coffee and splatters it again somehow on that paper towel. I wake up when the couple leaves my bedroom and I know that there is no way I am going to marry the guy who will propose to me in another few years, and then in the next second I tell myself that people don't make decisions like this based on dreams. And I try to remember that when I meet Myron and instead I only remember that splash of coffee on the paper towel and that beaten red and gold rug.
4. Thirty-three. I am in the backseat of a car and my mother is driving. This is impossible because she has been dead a few months and I think this is it, this is her visit. Oh, no, I'm not ready. She is driving rapidly and I tell her to slow down, she's going to cause an accident. Backseat driver! she crows. I try to make her see that she's not even here, that she died and that this is not even real. She sighs--that sigh of hers, the same one from the dream where she had to drive me to my faraway friend, that sigh that says I am the worst mistake--and she pulls over and scoots to the right, and Gary Sinise gets out of the passenger seat and walks over to take the wheel. I am still not trusted to drive. Gary Sinise drives just as fast as she did, and I say something mean to her, something I don't remember but that I know crosses a line. She turns to her left and says You see, Gary? You see what I have to put up with? I wake up and I cry until there's nothing left and when I dream of her again, I remember this previous dream and tread lightly so that I don't upset her and she barely notices me.
5. Forty. I am making my bed, pulling the sheet tight and debating raising the blind that insulates the room against the cold windows. I look up and see a chunk of ceiling has fallen. Another chunk falls and then another. It crumbles quickly, spilling dirt and wires and insulation on my bed. I run to Myron's office and the same is happening there, plaster and dust billowing up from his desk. I can see into the attic, and thick cobwebs and strange dark patches hang from the rafters. I am so afraid that this means the house is collapsing. The ceiling comes down in the bathroom and guest room, and a mirror falls from the wall and shatters. I am sure the floor is going to fall in next and that I will fall with it and be buried. Myron is behind me somehow, and he holds my shoulders and he says We fix, we fix, we fix while we watch it crumble and I realize that until that moment I believed this was my fault. We fix, we fix, regular as a church bell and as deep.