I had a stress dream about shopping for food. My (dead) sister showed up a couple of times. Usually seeing her ejects me from dreams. This time the dream continued. I was confused and thought, “This must be a dream but I’m not waking up. Is this real?”
What can you do when faced with the possibility that reality is a dream but you can’t wake up? I accepted it as reality and lived in it.
But then I did wake up. The dream hadn’t lasted too much longer but I was ready to accept it.
How can I be sure this world isn’t another dream? I can’t.
But until I wake up again I have to accept it as real.
Worlds within worlds. Each as real as the previous. Each a dream in the next.
I dreamt I gave away my first kiss. I’ve never kissed anyone romantically, in real life that is, in other dreams I have but this was different. When I say “first kiss”, I mean it felt like the first time I had ever kissed someone. It felt real, like a different life that was my life.
The dream started as this team building exercise at a company I was working at. The first “game” was a simple scavenger hunt for one item which I found almost immediately and returned to the meeting room. A woman sat down next to me and said, “I’m glad to not be the only one here at the company anymore.”
“I’m sorry have we met?” I asked honestly unsure.
She didn’t say her name but she explained she was also a trans woman. We talked and she touched my shoulder and arm saying, “I miss being close to other trans girls.”
“I’ve never had the chance to be close with another trans girl,” I said.
She withdrew her hands at that but I reached out for her hand and we held hands fingers intertwined. She snuggled up close to me. Whispering into my neck. I turned to face her and our lips were so close. I hesitated unsure if I should. Then I took the plunge and closed the final couple of inches. It was my first kiss. My aim was a little low, I kissed her lower lip mostly, I didn’t know how hard to press or if I should open my mouth. I pulled back, she smiled and leaned in for another kiss.
The dream dissolves after that. There was a dance number I stayed out of. A game show of dangerous stunts which turned out to be harmless. A short film about the evolution of a Siberian zoo over the years. But none of it as memorable as “my first kiss”.
I feel like I’ve lost something. Part of me wonders if I wasn’t visited by a succubus or minor spirit because of how vivid and tactile the dream was. After I woke up, I cried because I was alone, then I wrote down the dream.
You dream of a forest. Trees stretch up into the sky around you. There is silence as you walk. A small animal runs past you and you give chase. Bounding between trees, dashing through bushes it will not escape you. A final burst of speed and it is in your jaws, hot blood spills into your mouth. It jerks and then is still. You tear and rend the flesh from the body. After you are sated, you rejoin your packmates. You are tired and find a soft place to lay down and drift off to sleep.
You dream of a dark place. The ground is soft like mud but not wet and it does not stick to you. The air cold and smells of nothing. The forest is gone. You should find your pack but you are too tired and can not help laying back down.
You dream of a city. The building crowd toward each other over head. The street smells of shit and urine. Rats swarm over garbage. You hurry home because your mother is waiting for you. She calls to you as you enter the apartment. You walk across the room to her bedside. She is sick, bedridden, and probably dying. She begins to cough rolling half way onto her side. You cover her mouth with a cloth to catch the spittle and blood. She collapses back exhausted from this meager action. You leave her side to prepare the medicine that was your reason for leaving her alone. It may not make her well but it will at least ease her pain. A short coughing fit of you own leaves faint blood spots on the cloth. The medicine is ready and you help your mother drink it, knowing the no one will be there for you when you need this. You lay down next to your mother on her bed, the only bed. Your eyes close. Only a nap, you tell yourself.
You dream of a dark room. The bed is so large and soft. You mother is gone. This is not your home. You struggle to the edge of the bed. Exhaustion washes over you and you lay back down.
You dream of a hospital, gleaming white and polished chrome. The doors swoosh open and you run to the receptionist. He points you toward the floor and room where your partner is in labor. The elevator seems too slow but soon you are there. For hours you comfort them, until finally your child is born. The nurse hands you the wrapped bundle of joy. The side rail is lowered and the three of you snuggle on the hospital bed. You kiss your partner and look into their eyes. This is a perfect moment. You bask in the love and happiness of it. You lay your head back and close your eyes.
I woke up in my bed. Alone. More dreams, I thought. I stood up feeling alien in my body for a second. Too tall, no claws. My right hand reached for a ring that was not there. I looked at my hand. No imprint from a ring, no tan line but I felt its absence. My apartment was suddenly too quiet. I listened for mother’s wheezing breathing. Too many rooms. She lives with Dad and is in perfect health, I remind myself. My arms came together to cradle nothing. They had never held something so small and precious.
I shook the dreams from my mind and left the bedroom to take a shower.
“You know this is a dream, right?”
I’m trying to get a snagged video tape out of the VCR. My sister is sitting on the sofa. Her kids are watching me, it was one of them who called me to get the tape out. The person speaking is her oldest kid. He’s almost my age, just three years younger. This is my home and this is my family.
Except it isn’t real. It is just a dream. But part of me doesn’t care. I go back to fixing the VCR until the dream changes or ends or blends into another. When I wake up I feel out of place. I’ve lost something again. I spend all day replaying that moment where I was confronted with the truth of the “reality” around me and I turned away from it.
Everyone wants to believe that they could, that they would, break free from a Lotus Eater Machine. They would see how fake the world was or realize something was wrong.
Today, I realized given the right dream I would willingly chose the dream over reality. My dreams can feel so real that when I wake I feel like I’ve come back from a long journey. I’ve never been presented with a choice between dream and reality. Last night, I chose a dream over reality. It has shaken me a bit.
“I just need to make a phone call,” I yelled at the uncooperative operator.
“Please deposit ten cents for the first five minutes,” the woman’s voice intoned for the fifth time.
“This isn’t a payphone,” I explained, “It’s a business phone. Please can you connect me to 555-5820 or just let me have a dial-tone.”
“Please insert twenty-five cents or hang up the phone,” she repeated cheerily.
“Please!” I pleaded, “Just give me a dial-tone!”
The phone began to scream a piercing monotone beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep–
Last night, I dreamed I was a single mom in the suburbs. I was a stealth trans woman. There was a kind of Donna Reed/Leave It To Beaver aesthetic to the neighborhood and people but it was present day. Through most of the dream I felt this undercurrent fear of being outed as trans. It felt like someone had found out and I was waiting to see if they would spread it around or keep quiet. It wasn’t a nightmare. It was like an anxiety dream. Is that a thing? Google says it’s a thing.
An anxiety dream is an unpleasant dream which is less disturbing than a nightmare. Anxiety dreams are characterized by the feelings of unease, distress, or apprehension in the dreamer upon waking.
So, yeah I had an anxiety dream about being outed while being a mom in a nice neighborhood. I normally don’t know where my dreams come from. This one I know exactly where it came from. The having a kid was likely from the elementary school email list I got put on a few months ago. The other part was from something that happened at work.
Last night after we finished cleaning up the store, we watched a training video about how to help customers with disabilities. After the video our manager asked if we had any questions. One girl asked if we were doing the same thing that Target is doing, that is allowing people to use the restroom that matches their gender. Our manager said, “Yes we are,” and then girl made some comments about men going into the women’s restroom.
The first time I used the women’s restroom at work I was scared but I knew that management would back me if there was a conflict with a customer. That first time there was no one in there. The second time as I was leaving one of the girls I work with came in. I froze unsure of how she would react, even after the generally positive reception I had gotten during my coming out process. She walked right passed me to the sink and said, “I cut my finger,” while rinsing it off. Total non-issue for her or any other co-workers as far as I knew.
But now I have to wonder about this girl. Does she count me among the men ‘invading’ the women’s restroom? Does she see me as a threat? Do any of the others see me that way? These thoughts were all I could think about while trying to get to bed last night. I tried listening to Lore, a podcast about creepy/unsettling history/folklore, because the narrator speaks in an even tone. I did fall asleep during Lore but I still had that anxiety dream about being outed as trans.
I woke up from a dream this morning that I could only remember a bit from just before I woke up. There was a person tending to small blue flames. I can’t remember what exactly these were, candles or magic flames or matches, but they didn’t last long. Someone asked them why they were tending to the blue flames if they couldn’t last. The flame tender said something that seemed really profound about the sun being a blue flame as well. I’m not getting the phrasing correct so it doesn’t make sense or maybe it was one of those dream things that seems profound until you wake. When I woke up I could remember exactly what was said but I didn’t write it down and it’s faded now.
I think the sentiment the flame tender expressed was that these tiny flames that last only for a few seconds are just like the sun. The sun which seems to us to be ever lasting but it has a beginning and an end. On the right time scale it too is a brief light in the darkness.
I just wish I had written down exactly how it was said in my dream.