I detest weird, obnoxious dreams. Over the years I've had what I call recurrent "school anxiety" dreams. They first started in the 90s when I was trying to get through art school. I enjoyed my classes, but a combination of illness, lack of funds, and scheduling problems plagued my experience. I began to dream that I was back in college, where I finished my undergrad, but I was my current age. In my dreams I had a car (I didn't when I was an undergrad), I was an adult (I use the term loosely) and I was living on campus on some sort of sabbatical from work. In these dreams I endlessly searched for either my dorm room or my mailbox. I rarely found my dorm room, and when I did, there was something not-quite-right about it. Either the door wouldn't lock, or it only had 3 walls instead of four, opening up into someome else's room, that sort of thing. As for the mailbox, I never found that at all. I'm not a psychiatrist but there's some sort of message here. Either A.) I'm trying to find my room, which I believe represents a sense of belonging, or my "center" if you will. Or B) I'm trying to find my mailbox, and I never do. Clearly, I'm "not getting the message," right?! The most astounding part of this recurrent dream is the scenery: it has been exactly the same every time I have this type of dream over the past 10 years or so. The campus doesn't look quite like it did in real life, but it looks exactly the same in every dream. It's always night. Sometimes I'm driving around campus or through town on my way back to campus. I marvel at how things have changed, or how things have stayed the same in this very vivid nocturnal landscape. I also marvel that I'm driving at all since I didn't have a car or a license when I was in school. In all these dreams, no one likes me. I attribute it to the fact that I'm 10 (and now 20) years older than everyone else.
These dreams stopped once I finished art school, but they returned with a vengeance last fall when I entered graduate school. The scenery and premise of the dream remain the same ten years later. This time I attribute them to a general academic anxiety. I had design projects at art school but no research papers. When I started graduate school it was easily nineteen years since I'd written a paper or engaged in heavy research. I was nervous about the coursework, and the very words Graduate School struck a bit of fear into my heart. This time around I tend to find my dorm room more often than not, but it's still a little off. Sometimes the walls are slanted. Often I get to the back of the room to find that it adjoins another room with no dividing wall. I have dreams where I'm in a new apartment that does the same thing--opens into another apartment--and it really ticks me off. I'm sure there' s something subconcious about that but I can't figure out what it could be. Feel free to email me with your suggestions.
Last night I had a very different but equally puzzling school-related dream. I was sitting on the concrete area near an outside swimming pool. My sister was with me. A lot of other students were sitting there also. It was supposed to be my current school but didn't resemble it at all. Right behind the pool was a football field. A game was just about to get underway, there were swimmers waiting to use the pool. Then a man came along and stood in front of all of us seated on the concrete. He started to give a lecture. "If America is an unaltruistic wheel that has run out of grease," he began, "then what does that mean for the rest of the world?" Brilliant! I thought. Then someone whispered in my ear and I woke up. So what does this latest dream mean? Apart from the odd but promising sound bite I have no clue. I'm sure the professor's words are inspired by the current economic crisis; they certainly reflect my opinion that perhaps America should look toward solving its own problems before spending money to help other countries. (God that makes me sound so conservative. Or does it?) At least this time I was part of a classroom discussion. Maybe it signifies that I no longer feel like an outsider who doesn't belong, or deserve to be in, school.
My dreams are nothing if not multimedia extravaganzas.