Humans have been interpreting their dreams since home was a cave. We’re probably still no closer to understanding them than the shaman with a bag of roots was back then. I’ve been having repetitive dreams since I was a kid—like the one where it’s the end of the college semester, I’m wandering the halls looking for a class I’ve never attended and knowing I’m about to fail. Or my disc jockey dream—the one where I can never quite get the next record on in time. These dreams probably reflect someone who’s afraid of failure. Another of my uncomfortable repetitive dreams has me in high school in a cafeteria filled with classmates and I’m the only one not wearing a shirt. No teenager wants to be the only anything in the room. The thing is, starting in high school, every decision I ever made was based on trying to be different. I grew up in a house where I was told daily: “Be an engine, not a caboose.”
There’s a repetitive dream that enters my subconscious more recently. It’s perplexing but pleasant. It takes place in a downtown San Diego parking lot on the bay. I step through a manhole with scuba gear and drop into a beautiful nighttime lagoon filled with warm water and brightly colored tropical fish. What makes the dream weird is how comforting it is even though I have to drop through such a tiny opening to get into the water (skip the Freud jokes). In the awake hours I’m uneasy in tight spaces but this dreamworld parking lot aquarium brings me peace.
The reason I’m writing about dreams is because last night I had none. It was the first night of combination chemotherapy and radiation. I was awake all night. I’m told it’s a side-effect that’s to be expected. So there I lie remembering dreams fondly—but at that point, it occurred to me, the only thing on my mind is a 10-pound pomeranian who insists on wrapping around my head like a really bad red toupee. No deep meaning in any of this. It’s just the musings of a newly-initiated insomniac longing for my dreams—like the one where I ate a giant marshmallow and woke up to find my pillow missing.