I’ve never read The Interpretation of Dreams, or any of Freud’s writings, so I don’t know what the father of dream analysis says about dreams. I wonder how individual dreams are. Do some people dream very literally, while others dream in symbols and metaphors? If so, are those whose dreams are literal also those whose thoughts are literal? How do you recognize what is literal and what is symbolic?
In some cases, it’s very obvious. In my morning dreams, no matter how surreal they are, invariably I will look for a bathroom. Each time I find one it is configured oddly, or is nonfunctional or dirty in some way. This morning it was full of what appeared to be repairmen and other males. At some point, though, no matter what the obstacle, I go in and take care of the need. This means that I wake up, find my glasses in the dark, and scramble to my functional, prosaic (but never quite clean) bathroom. With two fibroids the size of a fist and numerous others crowding my uterus, plus the problems caused by PMS and attendant hormones, I have to go when I have to go, sometimes sooner . . .
(This is one of the reasons I want to be a man in my next life. An extroverted man.)
But the prelude to the bathroom fantasy is usually not so mundane. I’ve dreamed of people transformed into frosted cakes, of houses with their facades in the city and their rears in the country, of houses with watercourses inside, of roads that take me places that I knew once but that are infinitely strange to me now, of pans and vampires, of makeup that betrays hidden feelings and anguish, of an incubus whose attack made me wake up breathless with terror an hour after going to sleep, of apocalyptic night skies, of many things that are weird and marvelous. My dreams are better than any work of fiction could be. Often they leave me with such a wonderful feeling of strangeness, of being outside the world, that I don’t want them to end (and I do recognize that the intrusion of thoughts about bathrooms is a sign that the end is coming). Sometimes I sleep at odd hours, perchance to dream.
Today I had a new dream and one whose gist is recurring more and more frequently. In the new dream, which I had in the afternoon, I had a caged dog whose face was expressive of his emotions, which seemed sad and hopeless. Enter the cat, against whom the cage was probably meant to protect the dog. Still, the cat managed to attack the dog brutally, which made him even sadder and more withdrawn.
I don’t remember speaking or doing anything, but the cat somehow became contrite, perhaps because I willed it, and soon he and the dog were snuggled together, the best of friends. The dog had lost its infinitely sad look and now seemed blissfully happy. I felt pleased and envious.
In my morning dream, with the recurring theme, I was at a gathering of people from high school, apparently two or three years after graduation, while we were still in college. As usual, I was trying to get someone to notice me, to acknowledge my existence. As usual, it was as though I were in an alternative universe, where no one could see me. I would even talk to people, but they looked past me as though I weren’t there&lsqauo;or weren’t worth noticing. One woman spoke to me, although perhaps she was addressing someone else. I leant so close to her because of my poor hearing (of which I was conscious even in my sleep) that our relationship could have been misconstrued. I do not think she saw me any more than anyone else did. I could see her, and the object of my desired friendship, but I could not be seen. I was not real to the real world.
Frustrated, yet desperate to continue trying, I repaired to the bathroom full of repairmen, where the stalls were wavy suites and there was nowhere to go . . .