I dreamt a long, winding dream this morning just before waking. I was frequenting a series of rooms in what seemed to be a single large building, but I recognized different rooms as being from different buildings I’ve known or imagined before, and my tasks, desires, and what seems to be my primary attractions in life were represented by the different rooms. And when I say attractions, I don’t mean the things to which I am attracted—I mean the things that seem to be attracted to me.
I felt like I was visiting, like there was a finite amount of time remaining before I was to leave, and I was trying to take care of before it was time to go. The earliest I remember is being in a nursing home portion of the building, where I was taking care of things for my grandfather, whom I never saw, and I don’t think I was sure whether I was tying loose ends after his passing or addressing issues with his being there. I feel like there was paperwork, and belongings of his, and reporting back to my mother, and making decisions about uncertainties. I was also talking to attendants and trying to make myself welcome as well as understood in our needs—there was certainly that element of a need to be sure things would continue as I requested once I was gone. I didn’t feel any urgency beyond the floating need to finish in time, but there seemed to be enough of it.
This was my “tasks” portion of the dream. It seemed less personal than my familial purpose would imply; I was there to take care of business, to be sure that all parties were satisfied, so that I could leave and be sure we were all on the same page. I feel like I do a good deal of that. Certainly my job is like that. Certainly much of my life, or anyone’s life, is like that. There are things that you have to take care of to a satisfactory conclusion, and there may not be much passion involved in this part of life, but you know that if you don’t handle them properly, there will be future consequences, and you take care of what needs to be done to smooth out the ensuing time, to be sure there isn’t a stressful time dealing with fallout in the future. It’s dewrinkling your future. It’s putting the train on the reliable track. It’s unwelcome surprise control.
My work ostensibly done, I apparently had time to devote to myself before I had to leave, and I began going to communal areas of the building. TVs were on, people were milling about, not doing much. I was not interested in meeting anyone; I only wanted some time to myself, and so I was searching out an unoccupied space so that I could murder my time until I was supposed to leave, but I couldn’t find one. I forget how I ended up occupying myself, but it eventually got to be late at night—it felt like 2 in the morning or so—and I finally felt confident that I would have one of the community lounges to myself. I walked the darkened hallways until I found my target, and was happy to see that it was dark and unoccupied. I walked in. The TV was wall-mounted and off, the couches were unoccupied, and there was a chill to the room that you always seem to find in unoccupied public spaces. Did they turn the heat down for the night, or do all the warm bodies actually warm a space to a temperature we like?
This felt like the desire part of my dream. Now that I wasn’t performing needed tasks, my wish was to be alone, which it often is nowadays. While I couldn’t be alone, I floated inconspicuously around the building, patiently waiting for my opportunity to come. This does seem like my life these days. I do get lonely and I do seek out people and I remain somewhat social, but when it’s over, I am happy to get back to the spaces where I know I will not have to talk to anyone. Where I may not do anything of value, to myself or to others, but where I don’t have to answer for anything, either. Where I am unwatched—not that I am doing anything terrible, mind you—and can loaf around, where the only judgment comes from myself. It seems silly to write this down, that I’m avoiding the eyes of others’ judgment, because I don’t think anyone really judges anything i do poorly, but there seems to be something to the feeling in my dream of simply wanting to be apart, and the relief I felt when I found it.
Before I get around to deciding anything in the community room—which couch to lie down on, where to put my bag down, whether to look out the window—I am followed in by two people, who do not notice me at first in the dim moonlit glow of the room. It is a couple, and the guy is doing all of the talking. It’s kind but nervous. He says before he leaves in the morning, she has to take him to the student store so he can finally get a memento of her school, something to remember this chapter of their life. She’s smiling with teary eyes. They’re trying to normalize a difficult time between them. I notice my grandfather’s bed nearby, and I gather things up, rearrange things, making sure they notice my presence, and I go to leave.
I am not sure if they stopped me with a word, or if I offered a word to them, but in a moment, she is telling me that she knew their relationship was over, but she had to get him. “What kind of woman would drive 6 hours to bring her boyfriend back to her place knowing that it was all for the break-up?” she asks rhetorically, laughing a little at the end. I say something about the importance of thoughtful, peaceful endings, and surely she just wanted to be able to lay it out so that they could say a proper goodbye and have only warm feelings toward one another and the venture they had together. I say that not many end long relationships so well, and that I appreciate their maturity and emotional intelligence. They thank me, but as I am walking past them, I feel her intense pull on me. It is not physical, but she isn’t going to let me go now. The next thing I know, I am in her dorm room with her—it has become Granville Towers at UNC-CH—and she and her roommate are talking while I stand at the door. I recognize that there is a comfort she finds in me, and that this is why I am not able to go. Her roommate is telling her she has to get to Sky (a class building name, I think), because that is her favorite class, where she does great work, and she’ll enjoy it. And she’s agreeing. And I know that I am going to Sky too. I am on her train now, for a while.
This was, of course, the primary attractions part of my dream. That crazy psychic Charlie told me all those years ago that my energy was such so that the people attracted to me, to my presence, were essentially wounded birds. People who needed help in a difficult time. She reminded me that just because I am happy to be helpful and enjoy helping people see the larger picture and to give them support as they need it didn’t mean that it was good for me. She said that after a certain time, the energy flow is usually invariably decidedly away from me, because most people don’t know how to take assistance to remember how to stand, but would instead lean against it so they wouldn’t fall down.
In the end, this huge building or series of buildings I was in during this dream served as this metaphysical reminder upon waking; life is pretty much an infinitude of choices, but we as people keep electing to re-enter the same few rooms over and over again. Because that’s what’s expected of us, because we’re afraid to enter rooms we don’t know, because we’ve become the kind of person who serves a particular purpose to others in our world.
The thing is, this is nothing more than a stark reminder of what I think I’ve known for a while now. There have been times in my life when I’ve been aware that I’ve ceased progressing and have had the strength to choose new rooms to enter, and have usually been better off for it. And it’s been on my mind plenty these days that I am habituating strongly again; that my old feelings about money, about space, and about myself have slowly been creeping back into my habits after I had banished some of them years ago. It’s strange to me, how I can change, appreciate the change and think it an improvement, and then find myself going back to conceptualizations that didn’t work for me.
These days I feel like I am taking care of business as expected, I am generally seeking the relative peace of solitude for various reasons, and probably my wounded bird energy is as unchanged as ever. I am in a world with billions of rooms, and I spend time in twenty of them, and I want to try the other rooms. The punctuation, the reminder that this dream has provided for me is that, astoundingly, I still don’t seem to know how.