The other night, I had a bizarre dream. I should elucidate: I had a series of dreams stringing together bizarre circumstances with seemingly real interactions and people that I know. My dreams are usually similar, featuring my coworkers, friends and family at places they’ve never been, doing things they’d never do that seem average and ordinary at the time. In “The Interpretation of Dreams“, Freud said that dreams were “wish fulfillment”, and represent our mind’s attempt to make sense of feelings we repress in waking hours. Freud made most of it about sex though, as in, a dream about the fear of snakes isn’t really about fearing snakes but fear of penises and men. Maybe, but if you had a bad experience with a snake, and then saw one on TV, you’d likely dream about it later because you still had “snakes on the brain”. Still, the other night my sleeping brain put together a series of thoughts from my waking life and made them into a dream from which I can draw one conclusion: I am definitely ready to be in a relationship.
Let me break it down for you. In this dream, I was going to a family wedding, one of those multi-car caravan deals where you drive all night, pack into hotel rooms, attend the wedding the next day and then drive home when its over. My family is good for the communal traveling thing, and I remembered that fact recently when I booked a cruise on the same line we used for my family reunion in 2009. Perhaps my 3-to-a-stateroom flashbacks at the travel agent caused me to dream about a family vacation. Whatever. Anyway, in the dream I shared a room with one of the bridesmaids for the wedding, who had to wake up early the next morning for pictures, so I went to the hotel bar while she slept. And in the bar I met a man.
My Dream Man was actually someone I know, a red-haired college classmate named Nathan. I don’t remember the real Nathan’s last name, but it’s something Irish like Reilly or Shannon, and I recognized him in my dream. Now that I think about it, I’m not really sure his name is Nathan at all, as I don’t keep in touch with him and probably saw him and his wife at our 10th class reunion in 2005. The only reason I’m thinking so much about the guy now is because he popped up unexpectedly in my dreams, even though I haven’t given him a passing thought in years. Maybe seeing red-haired, befreckled Blake Griffin win the NBA Slam Dunk contest shook loose the memory of another ginger. Mind you, “Nathan Reilly” bears very little resemblance to a half-Haitian basketball player, but the brain mixes things up and sorts things out when we sleep. I don’t take this dream to mean that I’ve got a crush on Blake Griffin, or on the real Nathan Reilly, because that would be too literal. I’d just watched Griffin on TV, read about him on Twitter, and he got mixed up in my mental detritus and turned into someone I actually know. Guess I prefer Jung to Freud.
Anyway, back to the dream. Nathan Reilly and I recognized each other at the hotel bar, and we chatted a little but we could never finish our conversation because I kept getting distracted by my family, or by ordering a drink, or by the music playing in the background. Growing tired of my lagging attentions, Nathan Reilly asked me to step onto the bar’s terrace for a chat. During my conversation with Nathan, I had the sense that someone was really paying attention to me, not sexual attention, but a kind of scrutiny that was oddly intimate. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced someone’s undivided attention, but I have in both real life and dream life, and it can be very disconcerting. If you’re not ready for it, if you’re afraid of having someone look at you and really see you, you’ll have an anxiety attack. But if you sit on your edges and accept that really getting to know someone means really letting them in, its an incredible feeling. So I opened myself up to Nathan’s intense gaze and let myself look back at him with complete honesty. Then I let him touch my chin, my least favorite body part because it shows the effects of my age, my fluctuating weight, and errant hair removal. But instead of bracing for him to insult of my incipient turkey waddle, I accepted his touch. And in my dream I experienced the exhilaration, the warmth and joy of falling in love.
Dream Deltra called a bunch of people from college – roommates, best girlfriends in New York – to tell them about falling in love with Dream Nathan: “remember that guy?” “yeah, I can’t believe it”. I was giddy and silly, and in the dream I was up all night talking to and kissing Nathan and telling all of my friends about it and got no sleep before the dream wedding. Real Deltra awoke to an onslaught of sensations that I haven’t experienced in years. My dreaming brain had made emotional connections that I’ve been denying from myself, and denying that I wanted, for a long time. I didn’t wake up feeling confused, trying to figure out what my convoluted dreams really mean. Instead I woke up feeling hopeful that my forty winks fantasies revealed in me an openness to love I thought had been ruined by self-doubt, rejection and relationship baggage.
You’ve got to realize what a big deal this is. My dreams are always “real”, as in, I see and experience things as they’re happening instead of watching a movie of myself doing things. In the past I’ve had dreams of boyfriends and husbands, but I never actually see who they are: faces are out of focus and they never have names, even though I know they exist in the dream world. Maybe I knew their names and actually saw them in my dream, but I never consciously retained the information. It was like my sub-conscious didn’t believe in my conscious desire for a mate, so it never made manifest a man for me to dream about. Or if I dreamed about a relationship with a man, it was rooted in the logic of knowing about him rather than the emotion of feeling any way about him.
So today, my fully-conscious mind is holding onto the promise of falling in love and recapturing the emotional tumble I felt in slumber. No, I’m not trying to contact that guy Nathan from college, or looking for some lanky carrot-top or even a man with the first initial “N” in the misguided belief that I’m psychic. Rather, I’m going to do what I did in the dream – pay attention, open my heart and perhaps meet someone at a wedding!