Dream: According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary
1: a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep
2: an experience of waking life having the characteristics of a dream
: a state of mind marked by abstraction or release from reality.
Nightmare: something (as an experience, situation, or object) having the monstrous character of a nightmare or producing a feeling of anxiety or terror.
I know a lot of people who don’t remember their dreams. Many of mine are so vivid, I wonder if I’m living a dual life. My biggest question is why do certain dreams stay etched in my mind after I wake and others are forgotten as soon as I open my eyes?
I think the answer is…that subconsciously our dreams help us cope with ourselves in ways that we are unwilling to explore in the waking state.
I have a recurring dream where I am about to go on stage. Either I’m naked or I never read the script. In some dreams, I’ve never even heard of the play.
Or I’m naked and don’t know my lines. I ask another player if I could see her copy of the script and she’ll say, “You’ll be fine.” Most of these times I’m late because I just woke up from a nap.
I’m the lead. I never panic but I’m not happy about it. The play goes on without me whether or not I utter a single word. Usually, as I walk out onto the stage, I wake up confused and anxious about my day.
Funny though, I always walk out onto the stage knowing I’ll get through it somehow. I’ve never walked away.
The show must go on.
I have no idea what this says about my character, but I always do manage to get by no matter what the circumstances. The restaurant business demands I make it work no matter what happens.
I started having these dreams when I was a child. I’d end up at school in my underwear.
Though I never cried in my dreams, I don’t try to go home. I’d stay at school as if nothing was wrong.
I thought at one point it was my subconscious teaching me that because I was the only kid at school who had divorced parents (early 70’s) and my apathetic mother didn’t care what we wore to school or even went to school, I would still succeed and stand out despite my handicaps.
My report cards always read A for academics, 3 (the worst) for effort, and F for conduct. I got by because academically I was at the top of the scale.
Throughout my life, teachers and coaches would say:
“Orsi, if you’d just apply yourself you’d be a star.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I won track meets. I scored goals in soccer. And basketball. I was in plays. I got into college, what more do I need?
An amazing thing, the mind, what we convince ourselves is reality.
Dreams are more of an enigma. I wonder who I am in my dreams. Some mornings I wake feeling unfamiliar with my surroundings having left my “real” world behind.
I opened Ragin’ Cajun after having a dream I drowned when I dove off a bridge to save a drunk girl who had fallen in the lake.
Don’t ask, I have no idea. I remember that dream vividly to this day as if I lived it yesterday.
When I was young, I thought maybe my real life was another place altogether and that I had fallen asleep under a tree somewhere for a nap and came here, Tracie Orsi, to live the life I’m in now. When I die in this world, I will wake up under that tree look around me and say, “Wow, I had a dream I died.”
Perhaps there are parallel universes and perhaps I am living multiple lives, but it seems that in this one where I write this, I am most tangible, earthbound (or am I?) where in my other worlds I can fly and do amazing things like fall through the floor when someone attacks me emerging in another realm altogether.
I can surf really big waves and be in two places at once.
Not that I’m a super hero because I’m far from it. I know more in my dreams and am able to make decisions easily without doubting myself.
I have dream people who are with me on several different occasions. I recognize them and places I’ve never been to in this life.
This is why I have to wear pajamas to bed. So the dream people won’t see me naked. Ha!
And then sometimes I dream of people from this world (a confusing crossover) and when I wake, I feel as though I’ve disappointed someone and that when I see that person our relationship will be strained in some way. Call it insecurity, but I wouldn’t say that I have trouble with self-esteem.
Last night (or early morning, it seems) I dreamed of being at Borderlands Press Writer’s Bootcamp. It was different from the last two years I attended. Not the hotel and conference rooms in Towson, Maryland.
I felt like we were in Martha’s Vineyard or Nova Scotia on a cliff over-looking the sea. I was talking to three little girls about what they wanted to be when they grew up. They were all quite precocious, especially the one with her hair cropped like a boy and a face full of freckles. She was entertaining and very clear on what she wanted to do with her life though what she told me escapes me.
I knew that whatever she did, she would be successful.
Then I was talking to Meghan Arcuri. She kept handing me cigarettes and breaking them off in a Dixie cup. She said she was trying to quit.
I don’t think Meghan smokes.
I looked around for Richard Payne. He was hunched over with a cane. For some reason I thought I had caused this disability in some way but have no idea what happened. Some people were serving themselves from a buffet and I tried a bit of salmon which I don’t like in real life.
In the dream, it was incredibly salty.
I walked up to Richard who didn’t want me near him. He turned his back to me and went to sit with Edith Clarkson and Michael Bailey. Gardner Goldsmith was there talking to Malcolm Salls and Sheldon Higdon, all Bootcamp graduates. Tom Carson was there chatting up a group of ladies. A ceremony was about to begin and everyone had their backs to me as though I wasn’t part of the “seminar.” I tried to get someone’s attention and knew I was being snubbed. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. This made me uneasy.
The three little girls stood under a tree and were laughing at me.
I asked someone if I should run up the street to buy a bottle of wine. Richard turned and said I was too late; that by the time I returned it would all be over.
I was sad. Richard made a comment about me being too good to show up in time and spending all my time talking to other people.
They all raised their glasses to a speaker I couldn’t see and I was ignored.
I looked up the street. There was a liquor store. I said I was going to get a bottle of wine. Meghan and Edith laughed drinking whiskey from cut crystal glasses.
“It’s too late,” said Richard.
“You should’ve been here on time,” Michael said. He raised his glass.
“I was just talking to the little girls,” I pleaded. I glanced over to the tree. They were gone.
I blew it.
I looked around. There was no seat for me at the table.
I knew that when I got back from the store, everyone would be gone.
When I woke up, I thought it bizarre to have such a dream and wondered what it all meant. I wasn’t naked but I felt extremely unprepared, like everyone else was privy to a joke I’d never hear.
I looked back at all the manuscripts and my notes. Was I too critical? Was I too harsh? I went through 3 red pens and felt guilty. I convinced myself the reason we all go to Bootcamp is to learn what mistakes we make and that critiquing other people makes us stronger writers.
I thought about my own submission and winced. It’s boring. There’s no action. They’ll all hate it. Blah, blah, blah.
If we were all good writers we’d have no reason to be at a workshop, right?
I’ve read all the manuscripts and am now typing out my notes.
I’ll be sure to leave early Friday morning in case there’s traffic. And I’m going to pick up the wine beforehand.
And to be sure to pack my wine opener. I don’t want to miss this weekend.