I am afraid that what remains of last night’s dream will soon disappear. The problem is that I can’t record only what I remember, as if this were my dream journal. Other images have appeared, and I imagine them saying in unison: “We want to be part of the dream, too!”
I stand before a familiar door. I’ve climbed a flight of stairs without remembering it. She’s not here today. I feel my own anxiety in the last sentence. It’s Saturday. These two words seem to turn my body around so that I’m facing the other doors on either side of the long corridor. I often see these doors closed, but today I somehow know that all of the offices are empty. My psychoanalyst would never know I was here. Before I open the familiar door, an image from last night’s dream appears: I’m standing before the front door of my childhood home, which somehow I know now belongs to my psychoanalyst and her husband (I thought she wasn’t married!). This image has yet to disappear when I lie down on the couch where, in reality (which reality, external or internal, am I referring to?), I attempt to say whatever comes to mind a few times a week. It’s strange to be in this space alone, and I connect this feeling to my experience in last night’s dream: I don’t belong here, not now. This isn’t my office. We don’t have a session today. My childhood home belongs to someone else now. I can’t open the front door as if my parents were waiting for me inside.
The dream hasn’t been completely lost. An image has been saved, one with valuable imaginative information. She has become the owner of our old home. I first wrote “my old home,” and then I replaced “my” with “our” before I could think about what I was doing. Home is an emotional place. I am at home, expressing all of this in words, we have a session today, in what feels like a dream. I’m writing and I’m dreaming, while I’m awake, unlocking inner doors that I didn’t know were here to be opened.
I dreamed last night that I was somewhere where I didn’t want to be and in a dangerous situation whose probable outcome for me and the two other men in the stolen car would be death. The old car we found ourselves in might not have been stolen. We needed to leave fast. The bad guys would arrive at the farm where we had driven to at any moment, and once they found us, the end would be near, for us, for everything. I have no idea why we changed cars and drove away in the old one. I woke up before the dream ended, or that’s what I want to think. Our cat Marcelino (who was born in Spain and has turned fourteen this month) woke me up. I attempted to return to my dreaming state of mind. What happened to the three of us in the old car? It was dark outside and snowing. The bad guys would discover that we had just left the farm in an old car and would find us much sooner than later. Or maybe not.
The moment I was out of bed I hoped that the dream would return to the darkness and leave me alone. Am I afraid of being alone right now? I’m not alone. The book alongside this open sketchbook on my desk feels like an old friend whom I don’t know as well as I think I do. We met in the summer of 2002 at Casa del Libro in Madrid, my favorite bookstore in the city. I didn’t intend on writing “met” in the last sentence. The only two places I can meet Sigmund Freud are in my imagination and in my dreams, which I picture as brother and sister in a psychic sense.
Last night I was alone for longer than I was comfortable with while Javier was at a meeting downtown. This thought surprises me since I thought I enjoyed being alone for a few hours in the evening. I read some chapters of a book by a psychoanalyst in San Francisco about, among other things, how he dreams while awake during sessions with patients on the couch. I also came across a video on YouTube of a much younger Bruce Springsteen singing Twist and Shout and La Bamba in Argentina, in a stadium filled with people jumping up and down.
I have some minutes to read a page or two of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, in Spanish translation, the copy I bought in Madrid in the summer of 2002. That was crazy. I’d been studying Spanish for less than six months. I attempted to read some of its pages. The book is still with me. I’m still here. Last night’s dream has yet to disappear. Maybe I can dream with it while I’m awake some more.
The two psychological writers wanted me to dream with them. I reread the three or four sentences of the email several times. They were difficult to understand, as if these two accomplished psychologists and authors wrote the mail both together and separately. In one sentence I read: “Imagine that you are in ancient Athens.” Another was one word shorter: “We’ll dream each other into existence.” It was unclear that there was room for a third dreamer in what seemed to be a dreaming experiment. I reread the email a fifth time and realized that it was an experiment for two. I imagined myself in ancient Athens, standing before the Acropolis. And I pictured the books of these two authors in my hands. The stack kept growing until it reached above my head. The images were so real that I forgot what I was doing: recording last night’s dream in my dream journal.
An experience is in search of me. Last night I dreamed that I had my car washed. In reality, I don’t own a car. I also dreamed that I sat on the ground in a forest, in a meditative position, watching a tree grow. I felt it growing. I don’t want to drive again, which is strange to see in writing, although I haven’t sat in the driver’s seat since 2002, the year I moved from Seattle to Madrid. I’m afraid to count the years between then and now. The counting happens on its own. A tree grows on its own. I don’t control my mind. I experience it. What might it mean to me to be in the driver’s seat of my own inner experiences?
I imagine the opening sentence in the paragraph above appearing and disappearing in the surface of my mind, as if I were meditating in a forest and observing a tree experience its own natural process of growth. I pause before writing the next sentence. Silence becomes the pause, before noise in my mind returns and the pen moves again. Trees belong in a forest. My imagination has made the impossible possible: I sit on the ground, and the growth of a tree becomes a moment to moment visible experience.
More words that feel strange to see in writing come to me: this experience is experiencing me. I am being experienced by life in the forest. The mind is a miraculous place.
I must arrive at the bookstore before it closes. It feels like a matter of life and death. I don’t realize it’s raining until I’m on the sidewalk. There’s no time to take the elevator or run up four flights of stairs to grab an umbrella.
Somehow I know that the book I’m running to NonStop Books to buy has yet to be finished. I’m writing it. I imagine the bookseller with whom I spoke on the phone before I walked out the door without an umbrella. She said she was in a hurry, that she had much to read and write before I arrived in the rain. After speaking with me, she sits down and starts reading a book open on the table before her. She falls asleep. Somehow, I know that she does her most creative work while she’s asleep.
I run in the rain. I dream in it. The question of what I’m seeking seems lost in the rush. Then I realize I’m still, except in my dream.
I woke up this morning feeling closer to death than I did last night.
Out of all the sentences I have ever written, the one above seems the most alive.
A glance at my bookshelves confirms that this room hasn’t changed since I went to bed last night. All of the books, softcovers and hardcovers, will be here after my final breath.
“How many more years will we have together?” I ask the books aloud.
An inner voice responds: “I’m right here in front of you! Focus on me!” My eyes return to the desk, to my dream journal. I don’t have to open it to know that last night’s dream has been recorded inside.
When did I write it down? None of the dream’s images come to mind. Moments later, with a new sentence, they do.
A plant is on fire in front of me. Maybe it’s a single leaf. Fear makes my own motion an image for another dream. Motionless, I marvel at the growing flames.
There’s no caffeine in my system yet, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so alive. The following sentence comes to me as if it were a figure emerging from the darkness: My future is in the fire.
The image speaks to me as if it were part of my waking life. I’m trying to translate it into words in my journal. A woman who knows me quite well awaits me in a forest. I’m within a few feet of her when I wake up.
I’m preparing my morning coffee when I see the woman’s face again. A bridge appears, and I imagine it connecting my current state of mind with the world of fantasy, where dreams live.
My coffee cup is empty within ten minutes. I haven’t left the kitchen. I can’t remember the last time I drank my morning coffee without a book in my hands. The caffeine should start waking me up soon. I feel as if I’m in a dark tunnel, and I’m uneasy because I can’t see the end of it.
I’ve returned to my desk. I’m writing more words in my journal. The image of my psychoanalyst in the forest returns. She appears different in the woods than she does in her consulting room, although what she’s wearing I’ve seen many times. She looks as if she belongs there. What are we going to do together in the middle of nowhere?
Why couldn’t the dream have continued? I woke up too soon. These words in my mind are interrupted by another voice, as if someone else were also in my head. “The dream hasn’t ended yet. You two encounter each other in the forest. Let the dream continue. Imagine what might happen next.”