Have you ever had a romance dream? I don't mean a sex dream, although sex- or at least, the anticipation of sex- is usually involved. I mean a dream about true love, about finding your soul mate. I mean a dream that plays out like a novel or a movie: you know you've only been asleep for five minutes, but your dream spans years, an entire relationship, with conflict, and drama, and an intricate subconscious story line. And when you wake up, all you want to do is go back to sleep, to find your way back into that world and back to that fake person your mind made up. And sometimes you can, if you fall back asleep fast enough. But other times, you can't fall back asleep, or, if you do, your dream becomes a perversion of what you dreamed before, or you dream about something else entirely, or you have to suck it up and get up and go to work, forever wondering what else would have happened with your one true dream love if you had been able to hit "snooze" on the alarm and find your way back into his arms. Sometimes- actually, all of the time- you have to drag yourself out of bed and out of the narrative, desperately trying to hold onto the fading images of you dream while you brush your teeth or eat your breakfast, and inevitably failing, and getting in your car left with only the feeling of being deeply in fake love.
I'm talking about the dreams that feel more real than real life. The feelings that feel more intense than any real love you've ever know. I'm talking about the romance dreams in which you, or your dream avatar, knows without a single doubt that the person you/they are with is the one person they were meant to be with. That person is your/their one great love. A love that only comes once.
at the time. I had not been in love before.
It was like a wheel rolling downhill.
But early this morning while mother slept
And these dreams, they fuck you up for the rest of the day. The passions linger, and your stomach fills with unexplainable butterflies, and you feel a little bit like crying, pining for an experience that wasn't real, mourning the fact that it will never be real, and that life cannot be like a dream. Mourning the fact that the real world, with its real relationships, is not a perfect utopia molded to showcase your mind's deepest desires and fantasies. But still wondering, all the same, if maybe it would be possible to feel that way in real life.
Suddenly your body, your heart, and your mind are hyper-attuned to every man you pass, men you wouldn't have even glanced at the day before. Suddenly you're trying to look inside each one, trying to see if the literal man of your dreams has actually been down in the depths of one of them all along. You're trying to see if that feeling would be possible with any of them.
Of course, the answer is always "no."
These dreams call reality itself into question- have I been searching for the wrong things? Should I be hunting for this feeling? My mom once told me about a movie in which a terminally ill woman asks to be put in a permanent coma until her body finally gives out. The woman has a vivid dream life, with a husband, and a home, and a family. Every night when she goes back to sleep, the dream picks up where it left off the night before- what we all wish for when we have those magical, realistic romance dreams. Her dream reality has become more real, and of course, more bearable, than her living one- and who is to say that after her physical death, she wouldn't continue in this romantic bliss of her own invention, into eternity?
Is that what Heaven is? We get to live in our love dreams forever?
“Why all the fuss?” asks one critic.
“She wanted liberty. Well didn’t she have it?
A reasonably satisfactory homelife,
a most satisfactory dreamlife—why all this beating of wings?
What was this cage, invisible to us,
which she felt herself to be confined in?”
Well there are many ways of being held prisoner,
I am thinking as I stride over the moor.
Is a satisfactory dream life enough to sustain a human being?
Can dreams be enough?
Last night, the man was a blurry, shimmery, vague version of Logan from Gilmore Girls. Except with dream Logan, I could never remember if Logan really was his name, or just what I thought his name should be. And the woman was a vague version of me, a version of me that looked like Rory Gilmore. And that's all I remember.
Except for the feeling, of course.
Last post, I talked about how Stephanie Meyers started writing Twilight after waking up from a vivid dream. I too have tried to make sense of my dreams by turning them into a story, but I was never successful. Because dreams, as much as it may seem so when you're in one, do not have clear narratives. Dreams are fragments of our psyches, our desires, and our fears. Dreams are not really stories. Dreams are just feelings. You can't make dreams into reality.
It would be nice to be trapped in a love dream after death. But in the meantime, it's for the best that we can't dream the same dream twice, or pick up where we left off the night before. Because the thinner the veil gets between dream and reality, the more unsatisfying reality would become. The more unconvincing reality would become. I think the only way we can continue living in the real world, considering that the real world will always pale in comparison to our inner world, is to let our love dreams fade away, until they are only a fleeting emotion in the evening, and nothing at all by the next morning.
I can hear little clicks inside my dream.
Night drips its silver tap
down the back.
At 4 A.M. I wake. Thinking
of the man who
left in September.
His name was Law.
My face in the bathroom mirror
has white streaks down it.
I rinse the face and return to bed.
But until the next morning, the feeling remains.
The question remains.
Have you ever had a dream like that?
(The large bold print are excerpts from "The Glass Essay" by Anne Carson- for full text, click here)