Thursday, October 20, 2005

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

One of my favorite writers is Paul Theroux, an ex-PCV and one of the best travel writers ever. In his essay, "The Exile Moritz Thomsen," from Fresh Air Fiend, he writes, "Whatever else travel is, it is also an occasion to dream and remember. You sit in an alien landscape and you are visited by all the people who have been awful to you. You have nightmares in strange beds. You recall episodes that you have not thought of for years, and but for that noise from the street or that powerful odor of jasmine you might have forgotten."

The last three months have been interesting ones, and nowhere has the evidence of pressures, both subtle and unsubtle, been felt but in my dreams. For some inexplicable reason I keep having ex-girlfriend dreams. There's nothing I can pin down why this might be happening, though the best and most plausible reason is because I'm currently quite single, quite lonely, and quite isolated. So maybe my little mind is clinging to the pleasurable sensations of having someone I love and trust to share affection and intimacy with. Note: these dreams took place over a month ago, and I have just now gotten around to writing about them. These are not recent dreams. Things have calmed down on that front quite a bit.

Since the last "dream" entry, where I related an odd dream about discovering I was a father, I had two more dreams with strong emotions. The first had me hanging out in a building that was sort of barn-like (who ever said it would make sense?) as I waiting to be reunited with my long-lost love. Again, the exact identity of this person was nebulous -- she was nobody I've ever dated in real life, though everyone at the same time. I was waiting there with terror, love, excitement, and longing because I hadn't seen her in a long time. Seems many years ago this person had gone missing... simply disappeared, as though kidnapped, or as if she had lost her marbles and gone wandering off into the wilderness. Some how, some way, she had been found and was being taken to this place to meet me. The moment she walked in I began to weep with joy, and it was at this moment I woke up to find myself with real tears streaming down my cheeks.

This bizarre merger of dream reaction and real reaction was strongest in the last one of these dreams I had. In this, I was all by myself out in some blighted wasteland. As far as I could see was cracked, dry earth, with only scrub brush, and rocks to break the monotony. In the far distance a great, snow-capped mountain range formed a mighty wall. This could have been southern Utah. No sign of other humans at all. The reason I was in such a place was to visit the grave of my ex-girlfriend. In the dream, I could remember that many years before we had been lost in this scabland of wilderness, trying to survive and find our way back to civilization. We were starving and parched for water. I could remember how, at the height of our suffering, she collapsed to the earth and died in my arms; I had gone on to bury her in the dry earth and place a stone to mark the grave site. I managed to survive and made it back to civilization, and now every year I would make a trip out to this same lonely spot to visit her grave. And so, in my dream, I had just arrived at her gravesite where it was located near a dry stream bed. As soon as I saw it, I sank to the ground and began crying and embracing the headstone, overcome with a complete and crippling grief. I hugged the stone like it was her, and I choked out words of sorrow and longing, and my body shook with uncontrollable racking sobs. The sky turned a blood red and lightning began to flicker along the distant horizon. At that point I woke, sobbing uncontrollably. It took a couple minutes to gain my composure and sort out what was dream and what was reality.

I'm not taking Larium, I swear -- I just think the pressures of homesickness and social isolation have been working on me at levels I cannot consciously detect. Personally, I love dreams whether they are pleasant or nightmarish. I just need to figure out what's going on behind the scenes of these, to see why they are thematically linked. What the hell?

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