In Your Dreams

So I have this one writing professor who initially comes across as very folksy and Southern and conservative, but who is always making these really wry and sometimes biting observations that are all the more amazing because she is making them.

One of my favorites occurred during a recent discussion about the role dream-life plays in our writing, when she started going off about how no one is really ever interested in other people’s dreams. “I mean, when someone starts a sentence with ‘I had this dream last night,'” she said, “who in the world does not glaze over and completely tune out?”

The comment sent me into immediate hysterics: I thought I had never heard anything so true. The fact is that other people’s dreams are very rarely interesting. And yet they can also be so affecting, and sometimes disturbing, that we just cannot help talking about them. Especially if, like me, you frequently dream about having relationships with random celebrities (Matthew McConaughey was my boyfriend last Wednesday night and a couple of months ago Scarlett Johannsen made me make out with her; it was terrible.)

Anyway, this is all to say that I know you don’t really care about my dreams. But I woke up with such a jolt this morning that I just had to raise the issue.

Part of the reason I woke up with a jolt is that I managed to completely sleep through my alarm/yoga class and was in one of those half-waking states for a while in which I felt pretty sure I had overslept but was not committed enough to the idea to actually open my eyes and check the time. The other reason, however, was the realization that a person had again appeared in my dream–vaguely romantically–about whom I basically never think in my conscious life.

Occasionally, this happens. It happened when I was living in New York about a year ago and hostessing at this swanky restaurant in midtown: there was a manager there who I did think was cute, but recognized that he was a bit short, extremely stand-offish and had a clear preference for Asian women.  To my NY best friends, I referred to him as “the hot Israeli”–not because he actually was Israeli but had an Israeli-sounding name, and when the three of us came in for lunch on one of my days off I pointed him out; “That’s him?” one of them said. “Lizzie, have you seen a real ‘hot Israeli’ before? Because that is not what one looks like.”

The point being that this guy was not actually all that appealing, and in my waking life I was generally aware of this. I hardly ever thought about him–except on the occasions when I saw his curmudgeonly, diminutive person approaching the podium and frantically made to shut down whatever email/facebook/blog-reading I was attempting to sneak on the job.

But I dreamt about him all the time. And I was certain, in those panicked podium encounters, that he knew it.

I’ve lately been struck with the same phenomenon again. This time it’s a different person toward whom I have similarly contemplated an attraction, but who I would never actually pursue for a handful of rather significant and immovable reasons. In real life, in other words, I have fully dismissed the idea of any interest in him. But in my dreams, it would seem, I have not.

Which, I must tell you, is rather infuriating. I do not want to dream about this person: there are people, one person in particular at this current moment, about whom I would like to dream and with whom my waking thoughts are more or less preoccupied. So why must this inconsequential jerk keep invading my nocturnal thoughts?

I have no idea. And frankly, I am not inclined to pursue the question much further. After all, I try and subscribe to the philosophy that dreams are all basically random and bear little relevant insight.

But, all the same, it would be nice if they made a little more sense.

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