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Dream: 12.23.17

December 23, 2017

{My unconscious is clearly working overtime, but I remain confused.}

What I recall:

I’m an adult in midlife, but not quite as old as I am now. I’m apparently back living in Illinois because I’m situated in my parents’ house. My sister is also living there.

When the dream opens, 2 of my women friends are visiting, for a sleepover. One of them didn’t bring night clothes, and my mother insists that of course I have pajamas to lend her. I get anxious right away: as far as I can think right then, I have one mismatched pair of pj’s, and 1 nightgown, and I’m not sure either of them have been laundered recently. Maybe I can sneak a load in when nobody’s paying attention. (If I can even find them…  Ugh.)

The woman who needs pajamas, CJ, currently lives back in Indiana, where we met. Her car has Indiana license plates, and she is wearing a T-shirt that says “McCordsville”, an Indiana town, in old-timey lettering.

There are also, inexplicably, 2 young girls hanging around, wearing colorful clothes. They are somebody’s nieces, but I don’t think mine because, well, I don’t recognize them, or know their names or anything about them. Maybe they are friends with my sister.

I want to spend time with my friends alone but somehow my sister or my mother, or the 2 little girls, or random other people keep wandering in, distracting us. It’s annoying, but I don’t put a stop to it; I go along resentfully.

At some point I am informed “it’s been decided that” the 3 of us will sleep in my sister’s (basement) bedroom, which has had all the furniture removed. She smugly shows off the space, which is quite large.  When she leaves the room momentarily, I explain to my friends that my mother joined 2 rooms together, knocking out the middle wall, to create this large room for my sister. I say, “it should’ve been mine”, just as my sister returns. I’m mortified that I’ve been caught out again, looking childish and ridiculous.

Later, somewhere else in the house, I’m alone with my 2 friends. CJ, in the dream, stayed on at the workplace where we originally met, so she’s now been there > 10 years. She says management has changed again, and now the working culture is just a mess. She relates a recent anecdote where she got reprimanded for something really stupid. She clearly hates working there now, but feels trapped for some reason, and won’t be leaving because of this crap.                           I am heartbroken. I cry and cry, finally sobbing out, “All this time I thought at least IDEM was a great place to work, out in the world, and now I find out it’s just as bad as everywhere else??”

+++

Elements:

My sister, her room, CJ, the 2 little girls, pajamas, Indiana, IDEM, working.

I don’t want to be rivals with my sister, but somehow we always have been. And somehow, when I do a private reckoning in my head, she’s always on top. Even though it seems like things should advantage me, at least sometimes. But they don’t.                           {This description strongly calls to mind my mother’s relationship with her older sister, that I heard about ad nauseum growing up. On paper, at least, it seemed to me that my mother was far ahead of her sister, but my mother herself never saw it that way, and was always trying to “catch up”.}

The room is empty and therefore, pregnant with possibility. Anything might happen in this room. Why didn’t I receive a room like this? (Even though the carpet is ugly. And the tracks running around the perimeter that so impress everyone else seem dumb to me.)

CJ is a real person whom I’ve recently reestablished contact with. She really has moved back to Indiana, where she is originally from. But she left IDEM before I did, got married, and is now the mother of 2 sons.

I have 2 nieces, whom I last saw in 2011, when they were a little older than the girls in this dream. I know of them, but I do not know them, and they do not know me. I regret that, but it’s out of my control. I kept waiting for them to show interest in me as a person, and, since they never did, I stopped trying.

I practically live in pajamas now, like any writer who works from home. I would never volunteer these comfortable, but disheveled, clothes to anyone else to wear. They’re “good enough for me” because I’m a slob, and “only care about comfort” [patently ridiculous concerns, amirite?], but sharing them with other people — even under duress — would just broadcast how inadequate and pathetic I am. I Must Keep Up Appearances {even though that’s my mother’s mantra, and has, I’ve always thought, never been mine. Hmmm.}.

Oh, Indiana. So many good things happened there, that never would’ve happened anywhere else. So many cool people I met, sometimes became friends with. Some many awesome natural places. And yet… I felt “buried alive” there, and was ever desperate to escape. I almost didn’t care where we went (as long as it wasn’t IL or OK), as long as we left Indiana, which we did in 2008.

IDEM was, hands down, the “best job I ever had”. I was really really happy with ~1/3 of the aspects of working there, and quite unhappy with the remaining 2/3. Nobody understood me there, or cared that they didn’t. But I kept thinking (up until the last miserable year anyway) that I could somehow customize my working experience to suit me. And I really couldn’t. So I left.

I have a love/hate relationship with the whole idea of working. My father always said anyone could find a job they love, but I never did, and I sure looked everywhere. I liked always learning, and striving for subject mastery. I liked being a resource for other people. I liked being respected, being acknowledged to be smart (in a place that was valued). I liked earning money which I could put to my own purposes. I liked the variety of people I came into contact with. I liked that people gradually got accustomed to me, and often came to like me at least a little, after long exposure.                 In the case of IDEM in particular, I liked where the building was located: I could, and did, take walks to the courtyard (trees, forbs, songbirds, chipmunks), the canal (catalpa trees, among others; fish, frogs), the “prairie” at the Eiteljorg (meadow plants, butterflies, bees). I dearly loved that I was part of a broad collaborative effort to protect and defend Indiana’s waters.                    But the actual job was… disappointing. And, for me, it was clearly not going to lead anywhere. I left there, too.

+++

Putting it all together:

{I kept feeling like this was somehow about social media, but clearly, it’s not that at all.}

I want people to judge me on what I still remain capable of doing, even though I’m not actually trying to do any of that. Hence the resentment.

And what I am doing, most days actually [writing, photography, conceptual art], I feel doesn’t measure up to how “the world” has always judged me. I’m “working below my potential”, I’m “lazy”, “a slob”, I’m “not actually working”, I’m a dilettante, a hobbyist, a pathetic child.

What if all of those judgments are irrelevant?

I am Mea of Maryland, a person of water, of trees, of rocks. I like slime molds, salamanders, and spiders. I wish (some of) my hair had leaves, so I could photosynthesize. Maybe I’d turn green! That’d be cooool. I wear pink and orange and blue, sometimes all at once. I respect everyone in my household, and try to apply that standard outward.

I am childlike in a lot of ways, and I love that about myself.

And clothes can be fun, so it’s even more important that they also be comfortable. (I’m wearing ½ pajamas right now, and they’re sooooft.)

This is who I am.

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