Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Dreamed a Dream


I had a dream this morning. It went like this:

I'm in a place where I work. It's a lot like this place Limestone Produce where I had my first real job as a kid, but it's also not like that. You know the way dreams flirt with reality and then spin it into something else. I'm there and walking up this set of stairs. My coworkers are fooling around and one of them, who happens to be a kid I used to teach in real life, throws a bunch of water at me. I'm holding my brand new, very expensive phone, and the water gets all over it.

In real life, wet phones are a problem. Get the phone wet, damage it with water, and the warranty is voided. In the real world it takes turning on the phone to see that it is broken. In a dream, things can be far less subtle and in this dream the phone, which is large and has a curved screen, suddenly flops in half as though it were wet cardboard. The glass face of it cracks into hundreds of pieces and I am holding a very expensive, worthless piece of electronics.

Holding that and my fury. But I don't hold either of them for very long.

I scream at the kid who was just fooling around. I let loose about how expensive the phone was and how he has ruined it. He yells back at me mostly because he didn't mean to wreck anything. I'm beyond angry that he is angry at me, so I throw the phone down at him. It misses him and shatters into more pieces on the floor. Right then I realize that I might have been able to fix the wet phone but now that I've smashed it all hope is lost. I keep screaming at the kid but it's me that I'm angry with.

The dream shifts then to me riding in the backseat of a car with rich people. I don't know them and have no idea why we are going to a raceway (or why people are coming down out of the sky on spider-web strings), but I'm holding the pieces of the phone in my hand, the cracked glass of which is cutting me open.

By this time I'm not even in the plot of the dream. Instead I'm lamenting my own foolishness, my lack of responsibility, my inability to take care of my things and myself. I want to open the door of the moving car and roll out of it onto the pavement just so that I don't have to keep feeling this feeling.

Instead, I wake myself up but it takes maybe thirty seconds for me to understand that I'm awake. It takes another thirty seconds to realize that I was dreaming all of that stuff. And then, I have to tell myself, almost aloud, that it was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream.

It's five in the morning on a Saturday, but I roll over, sit up, and put my feet on the floor. As I'm telling myself that it was a dream, I remember that my new phone is sitting on the bedside table. I pick it up. It is whole and undamaged. I think back to the dream and realize that I haven't lost my temper, haven't yelled at anyone, haven't thrown something away in anger.

And with that, I get out of bed and go downstairs to begin my morning. It's dark outside still, a grey and cloudy early-dawn darkness, but I'm going to be okay. I can make my own sunshine. I can certainly make coffee and so I do.

Within fifteen minutes of getting out of bed, I've dressed, used the bathroom, made coffee, poured it into a mug, and sat on the couch to read the news. The house is quiet and I am under a warm blanket by myself. I'm breathing. I'm calm. I'm alive and well.

In the moment I take the first sip of my dark, black coffee I realize how my dream was just a dream. More than that, I understand about as well as I have ever known it that the past has passed. The mistakes I have made have failed to define me as a failure. The successes have been good but even they are not the sum total of who I am. In the moment of that first sip, I know that I'm becoming and becoming with every second. The dream was a story as is the life I have led. I can read them both and do whatever I wish with them.

This morning I chose to set them aside, pick up the computer, and write on.