Tag Archives: Dreams

Recollections of a Dream Upon Waking

For the last several nights, I’ve woken in the early hours of the morning, shortly before dawn, from the same dream. I replay the details in my mind while I lie in bed, waiting for my breathing to slow down and the tightness in my chest to subside. The afterimages are vivid for a very brief time and I’m left with my hands clenched tightly and an ache in my heart, but I fall back asleep for a few fitful minutes, trying desperately to get away from that dream. And then when I wake again, I have no memory of the details.

This morning, I remember bits and pieces. I remember looking for something I just couldn’t find and I am not one to lose things. In my dream, I cry out in frustration to a friend but there’s no one there. No one and nothing. It’s gone, whatever it was. But this was the second part of the dream. This was the part that woke me in the morning after I’d woken before dawn from something I can’t remember. It left me with a sense of loneliness; loneliness and loss. Both faded when I opened my eyes and saw the room filled with daylight.

As I scribble this on a notepad that I keep in my night table drawer, the details come back slowly. There were three people in the first dream, the same three people I’ve dreamt about for several nights in a row. Loss makes more sense now. They’re there, I know they are, but they’re out of my reach. Lost. Why those three? That I don’t know. Why them, over and over?

I’d like to go back to a time when it wasn’t so common for me to feel fear subside when I open my eyes in the morning, but I don’t even know when that would have been. Two years ago? Three? Longer? I miss you, I guess, is the moral of the story. Several “I miss yous,” to be precise. You’re there, but not for me, not like you were some time ago but I don’t even know when. Things changed. I can’t quite reach you anymore. (Why those three?)

Navigating this life when I’m alone frightens me but that mostly comes up at night, in the dark, when my walls are down, distractions put away, and it’s plainly obvious that alone is exactly what I am. But I’ve had these dreams the last several nights in a row, dreams that have left me with those feelings. Maybe the alone-ness, which isn’t quite the same as being lonely, is bothering me more than I thought.

But it’s morning now and the room is bright. The stiffness in my hands, nails digging into my palms when I wake, has subsided; I can see it in my handwriting on this notepad. My breathing is calm and eyes are wide open, gazing around the room in recognition instead of squeezed shut, unwilling to admit that whatever it was is lost, hoping to sink back into the dream and find it.

Until tomorrow, then.

Maybe I’ll find it this time. Whatever I’m looking for.

On Dreams

I think I’m a lucid dreamer. Or maybe this is just how dreams go. The science behind lucid dreaming is sketchy at best, as is much of the science behind sleep, but I know where I am in many of my dreams and make decisions about what I want to happen next. Once I’ve woken up, sometimes I can fall back into the dream and redo what has already “happened.” My own laughter has woken me more than once in the middle of the night, but I don’t think I’ve ever woken up in tears. I think the last time I had a nightmare was in college. I woke up with my arm outstretched, grabbing at something that wasn’t there.

I dreamed about this blog post last night. Or, rather, I dreamed about what I was actually thinking but couldn’t articulate when I spent a couple hours writing yesterday afternoon. That’s why I’m rewriting it.

We sleep. Neurons fire. Things make more sense once our brains have had time to process.

Last night I dreamed about love. I dreamed about what we used to talk about, where we used to go, what we used to do. I woke up with a physical ache that I soothed by resetting my breathing; I turned off that dream before rolling over to fall back asleep. I liked the memories. I didn’t like the longing. Dreams can pull us back into the past and the past can be dangerous. Just look at Gatsby.

I’ve learned that it is one thing to dwell on the past, to romanticize it and see it through rose-colored glasses, but it is quite another, I think, to look upon the past as an old friend, with the knowing smile that comes from the expected. The school year is ending, which means that this, too, will join the past. This is the time of year when I begin to look back on what was, which always leads me to think about what could be or could have been.

“The past” enters, stage left.

Since my life follows a school calendar, “next year” begins with the start of the school year in August and “this year” ends in just a week. Soon, I’ll speak of “last year,” meaning right now and the ten months preceding it. Where we are now, the “end of the year,” is a lot of fun, busy, and always bittersweet. At international schools, we say goodbye a lot and at least for me, it never gets easier. We turn over a lot of new leaves.

Sometimes I indulge when I find myself feeling sentimental. Sometimes I go up to the roof and sit in the dark, eyes closed, Lana del Rey or Bon Iver filling my ears, a soundtrack for feelings too wrapped up in themselves to be put to words. Sometimes I run through a few old favorites – things that were, unspoken dreams of things that will never be, imagination for what is still within the realm of possible but only on a technicality. My mind is filled with people I’ve known and loved, maybe for a long time or maybe they’re brand new. People come and go in transient cities, in international schools, and we’re often just counting time.

Thinking about the end of the year got me thinking about the past and is likely why I dreamed about a love I once had. The past becomes the story we tell ourselves, true or not, and it’s what we do with the story that matters. We write those stories all the time.

This is the end of the school year, prompting me to write the story about wanting to be better next year. This is the part when I am reminded of why, how, and who I was. Who I am. Who I can be. This is the part that reminds me of the people who have been with me along the way and I miss them, even if we have yet to be apart.

But of course, sometimes, my imagination catches me off guard, an enemy rather than a friend. Those are the times when I find myself angry or hurt, which are really just emotions that mask feeling fear. Maybe I don’t have nightmares because I can admit when I’m afraid. It doesn’t come up in the dark the way it used to and I don’t push it away as insistently anymore. I’ve learned to make my peace with people and times and events, recall what I’ve learned from them, and wish them well.

When I let my mind wander, I find myself writing stories about what I want and what I hope for, both for myself and for others. I invent conversations that I wish had taken place, rewrite conversations that could have easily gone another way, and imagine conversations yet to happen. Sometimes my imagination is like a tape that won’t stop running, no matter how many times I press stop. Sometimes it fills me such delight that it’s almost disappointing to keep my dreams to myself. And sometimes I catch myself with a silly grin on my face and can’t help but laugh out loud. I think about my people, the broad category that they are, and hold them tightly.

The end of the year is a time of transition. Living on a school calendar provides a convenient opportunity to make changes, restart, and try again, but it also forces endings and beginnings, often sooner than I’m ready for them.

But here we are. Already. So soon. And yet, we thought it would never come. Or so we told ourselves months ago. There’s so much time and never enough. This is the time to remember or say goodbye to people who have built my dreams, occupied a space in my mind and made it their own. It’s the time to send love and good wishes half the world over, to those gone, those going, and all of those I have left behind.

Thank you for being part of my story, part of my dreams. Lucky are those who will come to know you; lucky are we who already do.

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