Me, I seem to remember most of my dreams. Why, I can tell you dreams I had in first and second grade. Admittedly, they were rather one-dimensional in those days. For instance, one dream in first grade was just about climbing a jungle gym. In second grade I remember there was a long dream about cutting my second set of front teeth, what we called then "Getting Your Big Teeth." These aren’t dreams you can make a name for yourself by psychoanalyzing, you know?
I think it was around sixth grade that I started having what I call movie dreams, and until recently these were about the only dreams I had. In a movie dream, I don’t actually play myself. If I’m in them at all, I’m a character actor; males, females, kids, old people. Usually I just watch. Movie dreams are in settings that have nothing to do with any place I ever lived or any people I ever lived with. There are lots of scene changes and plot points where the action accelerates and changes direction. There are plenty of camera angles. Of course, they’re in color.
There’s another great feature of movie dreams, and that is the control I always have over the endings. Like the book The French Lieutenant’s Woman, if I don’t like the ending, I can rewind and direct a new version. Or if the whole theme is disturbing, I can turn the movie dream into a TV movie dream, then change the channel.
I hit this stretch in graduate school where I could watch myself fall asleep, watch the normal waking thoughts change to dreams. But I had to train myself out of this. The transitions were so ridiculous, I wound up laughing out loud and thinking, That is just stupid! Which, of course, woke me up. It could go on for hours like that, and I lost a lot of sleep.
All in all, I’d say it’s been pretty interesting to go to bed at night.
Recently, though, my dreams have been all snagged up. They started to be about stuff that happened during the day—as though I don’t stare at a computer enough at work, I need to dream about it all night, too. And I can’t even change the channel on these things! About the only thing I can do is get up and go to the bathroom. I did that one night, and on the way back to bed we heard something outside on the patio. So we turned on the porch light to have a look, and it was the neighbor’s cat eating a snake. Which was a lot worse than the dream.
Things in dreamland went from bad to worse. Every night for two months, I had virtually the same dream: I’m trying to attend a big, important conference but keep missing the bus to the airport, and when I finally get there, I miss all the meetings because I can’t find anything to wear.
Try 60 or so reruns of that, back to back. It’s like being forced to watch Gilligan’s Island all night because you can’t find the remote control. I started complaining about this to my husband every morning about this repeating theme, though, of course, he could do nothing about it.
And then last week the movie dreams started up again. I was very excited. I said to my husband, "I had one of my movie dreams last night! It was a whole romance novel on film. Also, I had this dream where I was watching someone write a column. And the woman writing the column kept saying what a great column it was. I kept shifting the camera angle, trying to get a look at the text so I could use it myself, but she kept covering it up—like it was her dream, or something. So all I ever saw was the title: Tornado Club. I’m using it, just out of spite . . . So what did you dream about last night?"
He said, "I dreamed that I was at a conference and I kept missing the meetings and people were coming down on me for it. It was awful."
Oops. . . .
In his dream he said,
"I wish the brown electric rain would stop."
Beside him she dreamed of
tidal waves, tornados, and ice flows.
The plum tree outside their window
dreamed of molasses poured over snow.
Only the night rain did not dream,
but made a little river in the driveway
and a waterfall down the stone steps.