I just awoke from a dream in which I existed in three different stages at my life, but the action took place all at once. It was unsettling, but I’m not really sure why. Let me preface what I am about to write by saying that my dreams are extremely vivid, like a movie playing in my head, and the sights and sounds can be staggeringly realistic.
In last night’s movie, I had been skipping out on one of my classes at William Paterson University all semester. This puts me at around age 31 when I was getting my master’s after moving to New Jersey. It was an eight to ten class at night, and at around 9:10 (I told you these things were vivid), I decided I should go and at least get the notes for the semester as well as the next week’s reading assignment. I got up from the chair I was sitting in and told my parents I had to go to class. I was living in this house in the dream —the home I grew up in—so I’m around 17 in this part. As I was leaving my parents’ house, I went the wrong way to WPU, so I had to make a very creative U-turn—in Otto Pilot (my current car). This can only have occurred in the past year and a half. When I got to WPU, I found a friend I could ask for the notes. This was a high school friend I have not seen in years. The rest remains in my teen/today years and involves me not having my keys to get back home and being afraid my dad would be upset that he had to drive to Wayne, NJ at ten at night. Don’t ask me how I was able to drive to campus in the first place. One just accepts these things in dreamland.
If I want to psychoanalyze this dream (and apparently I do or I wouldn’t be sitting here at 6:46 pondering it), I really think the meaning lies in the three ages I was in the dream. I’m going to go all stream-of consciousness here, so bear with me. Age 17 is when I had to make my first adult decision and when I had my first panic attack. And yes, the two are related. I had been accepted at the two colleges I really wanted to attend and my dad told me I had to decide. This was horrible for me. I thought of nothing else for days and when the world began to spin while my heart pounded and I broke out in a full-body sweat, I had no idea what was happening. I was adulting for the first time and my mind did not like it. This decision, in so many ways, changed to trajectory of my life. But I can’t help but wonder if putting myself at that age in the dream was significant because I was on the cusp of an extremely important change in my life. I was also in the midst of major change when I was at WPU. I had decided to finally pursue a path that was truly my own: getting a master’s in English with a writing concentration. Writing was my passion, my love, my only true joy, and by getting this degree as opposed to something safer, I was on the cusp of a major life change. Then there’s now. Why now? I do not have to make a major decision, I am not on the cusp of getting a degree in something that will put me on a new path, so why now?
The one and only thing that makes sense, which is difficult to do at this hour with my head pounding, is that perhaps I am on the cusp of change. I am rising each day to write this blog. I am submitting creative nonfiction and poems to literary magazines. I have done two poetry readings in the last year. I am quietly yet steadily doing what I always dreamed of when I was 17: being able to call myself a writer by actually doing it.
I guess this makes last night’s cinematic extravaganza come full circle. I hope my dad is proud of me, but I still wonder if he ever brought me those keys…