Stories about dreams are boring, but that doesn’t stop us from telling our stories. So what happens when we all start having the same type of dream all over the world? I’ll let you be in my dreams if you let me be in yours.
Thanks to the Coronavirus, we all seem to be having intensely vivid dreams, cloaked in varying degrees of trauma, and thanks to #pandemicdreams on Twitter, you can compare your affliction with other people’s.
The dream I had last night was one of a series of recurring dreams that predates the Coronavirus. In the dream, my wife tells me she doesn’t want to be together anymore. I’ve been having the dream for over 10 years now, long before we were married. Sometimes, like last night, we aren’t married yet in the dream. Sometimes our son exists; sometimes he doesn’t. Almost always, I’m devastated, crushed, and yet hopeful that she’ll change her mind at some point–this was a pattern in my previous failed relationships as well. The dream makes perfect sense, logically speaking, when you consider I suffer from what amateur psychologists called “abandonment issues,” and what professional psychologists call “a serious attachment disorder.” Fun fact: the Wiki article on adult attachment disorder provides a list of well-known people who were afflicted with it: Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and uh, Helen Keller.
So that dream doesn’t need much interpretation–I like my wife, I hope she keeps liking me back. But the other night I had a Rona dream that’s too long to fit into a Twitter thread.
But before we get to that, how about an interlude, my favorite song with the word dream in the title:
TV On The Radio came out of New York City in 2003 dripping with a post-9/11 angst & paranoia that made them sound like the only people in this country taking anything seriously at all. On their first three releases, they tightroped a line between numbness & emotion, between ice & blood, before trying on future albums to head into the light. Their music remained fine, but when you go as deep as TV On The Radio had gone into the darkness–into war, into bloodlust, into death, into apocalypse–anything even approaching was going to sound like a wish that they didn’t truly believe in.
During the tragedy of the Bush years–the wars, Katrina, the stifling of dissent–TV On The Radio were one of a handful of bands whose music could take all of it in, feel it, and then spit it back out with integrity & defiance. There was nothing that could shock them, not because they were cynical, but because they were paying attention.
Let’s just say I’ve spent this afternoon listening to 2006’s Return To Cookie Mountain, and their music sounds like it knew all of this was coming.
In the dream, my friend Jesse and I were walking through a Marriott Courtyard, not keeping six feet apart, when we saw our friend Trish working behind the counter. We invited her to come have lunch with us. The hotel restaurant was open, but we had to sit outside as a picnic table. We knew we weren’t complying with social distance protocols, but decided that today, at least, we wouldn’t worry about it. After all, we had just unexpectedly run into our friend, and what is life if not for living.
For whatever reason, our table was covered with these tiny magnets no bigger than a nickel. And there was a black Sharpie on the table you could use to draw on the blank face of the magnet. I wrote letters on each of them to spell out the phrase:
N-O-N-E O-F T-H-I-S I-S O-K-A-Y
and I placed them on the inside of the door, facing back into the hotel. Almost as soon as I walked back outside, I saw a manager come running up, shouting that I needed to take those down.
I screamed at him. “Why?!? Why do I have to do that?!? Things are really fucking weird right now!”
It will upset our guests, he responded.
“They should be upset! Everyone should be upset!” I couldn’t stop screaming.
I agree with you, but you need to take it down.
“But none of this is okay!”
And then he shouted at me. Don’t you think I know that? Look! He gestured to a television inside the restaurant. I could see a basketball game on TV. Somehow, I knew it was an NBA game. The camera panned over to the sidelines where the players, instead of sitting on a bench, sat on a large wooden rectangular contraption with metal flaps spaced across it. One of the metal flaps was flipped up, and a player, with his shorts pulled down to his knees was shitting into the contraption. The manger turned back to me. I don’t need you to tell me this is weird! We don’t need your magnets!
I told him, fine, but he’d have to take them down himself. Then I walked back to the table, where Jesse was writing his own letters on the magnets. I noticed his penmanship was much prettier than mine, and more flowing.
“Oh, I’ve got an idea for a better one!” I shouted, and tried to grab the Sharpie out of his hands. He told me he wasn’t finished yet, that I had already had a turn, and I needed to wait. I woke up breathing heavily, covered in sweat. It took me about an hour to fall back asleep. This was, in my pantheon of Corona dreams, one of the more benign.
No wonder people are waking up each day more exhausted than they were when they went to sleep.