At least part of the origins of a dream of mine from last night are obvious: I’ve had Lost on the brain due to peeking in on Nikki Stafford’s Rewatch of the show and lamenting that I still don’t have time to participate.
The context of the dream was me reading about an upcoming film in Entertainment Weekly — yet instead of seeing the words on a page, I was seeing the action described
in my mind’s eye, as if I had peered into Dumbledore’s “pensieve” from the Harry Potter series. And that action was Matthew Fox, in his role as Jack on Lost, standing
on the turret of a castle while a storm raged. Oddly, Julia Roberts was playing a version of Evangeline Lilly’s Kate or someone connected to her, but she was inside. Jack, in a suit and tie, shouted amidst the wind and rain about something being unfair; at one point he dumped the contents of an old-fashioned physician’s bag over the wall of the turret. I believe that the name of the movie was In Absentia.
I have vivid dreams and tend to remember at least one upon waking. Sometimes I’ll recall others later when actual events jog my memory. They’re usually not completely mundane or completely gonzo, but there are exceptions. On rare occasions I’ll have dreamt a slice of life so ordinary that only later when reality contradicts it will I both remember the dream and realize that it was a dream. Last year during a nasty bout of the flu I dreamt of nothing but thick, syrupy pitch-black shapes moving around.
Most often, however, the dreams are entertainingly improbable if not impossible scenarios like me going to a Survivor reunion after nearly forgetting that I’d been on the show, or Jim Eisenreich giving me a pep talk in the Phillies’ locker room before we take the field, or an acquaintance of mine getting me to introduce him to Marlee Matlin after I’ve moved into a new apartment. Yes, I’ve gone back to college and even high school. Yes, I’ve been embarrassingly naked. Yes, I’ve had sex, which to me pretty well belies the old saw that says when you dream that you’re flying you’re really thinking about having sex. I’ve also dreamt that I’m flying, which is utterly amazing and probably my second favorite recurring activity in dreams; first is spending time with one of my family’s dearly departed cats. The following is representative of the average levels of reality and unreality of my dreams as well as their tenuous segues.
A childhood friend whom I shall call Gary looked not entirely unlike Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live, and while I’ve not seen Gary in ages a dream from the other night began with the two of us more or less as adults in a classroom where Hader stood at the chalkboard. I was telling Hader that, like him, Gary did a killer Vincent Price impression, and Hader responded with the news that he was preparing to star in a film that Price had been working on before his death, portraying the main character as Price would have. From there the scene dissolved to what at that moment I clearly felt was supposed to be Hader’s description of the film, via the whole rubbing-the-chin, “it seems as though it was only yesterday...” trick; in this new setting, a bunch of teenagers were lying around waking up from one heck of a party the night before.
What’s strange about this transition is that I’m generally the main character in my dreams, if not quite myself then something close to it, and when I’m not it’s clear that I’m a kind of omniscient observer but only an observer. Here, I could feel my consciousness poking at each one of the awakening bodies until I found the one that I was supposed to inhabit. Once I did so the group went downstairs and was served breakfast by the mother of whomever had hosted the party, but I immediately noticed that one of us, a girl named Cassidy, had gone missing. After we searched the house and tried her cell phone, to no avail, I took a car and went on a frantic search in the driving rain, finally arriving at a van whose interior was decked out as a small game-show set — there was just enough room somehow for the host, video equipment, and a pair of contestants standing at lecterns like on Jeopardy or the Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right; what it reminded me of most of all was MTV’s Remote Control. I explained to the host of the game show, with apologies to the contestants for interrupting, that I’d met Cassidy when we appeared on the show and I hoped that there might be a clue to her whereabouts in tapes of previous seasons, although in honest-to-gosh real life Cassidy and I had gone to a theater-arts camp together one summer.
Many of my friends are fascinated by the level of a dream’s detail that stays with me, not so much in terms of what sort of shirt someone was wearing but the length and twists of the narrative, whereas I consider it normal. I used to write my dreams down regularly, either to note imagery or story potential that could be adapted into a work of fiction or for the purposes of adapting the dreams whole into short comic strips. Drawing anything beyond single figures is an enormously time-consuming, often ultimately frustrating activity for me these days, however, and I haven’t done panel-to-panel continuity in years. One friend in particular has been after me to start keeping a dream journal again, with the aim of posting prose summaries of select dreams online, and I just might.
Related: Fight and Flight • Head Space • Of Was and When