We have a rule in our house. Actually, it's more accurate to say I have a rule in our house, a personal rule that I've imposed, making it a defacto house rule: if you absolutely must talk about a dream you had, then you have 15 seconds, no more no less, in which to do so. Fifteen seconds, I'm not kidding. The clock is ticking. Go.
This forces the speaker to drop all superfluous "it was our house but it wasn't our house," "woah, it was so weird, it was my childhood street but the houses were all different" description that doesn't contribute to the point of the dream. Fifteen seconds forces the speaker to cut to the chase. It's simply a waste of words and valuable time to talk about how the dream was different from real life. That's a given. As Marianne once famously said, "Dreams are like that. They're not real."
This wonderful rule has imposed a discipline that we adhere to now. No longer do I cringe when Joe says, "I had the weirdest dream last night," not knowing how long the tale will take, how long I will spend waiting for something to come across in words which allows me to form a picture, any picture, of what he's talking about. Maybe this makes me a horrible person. I think it just makes me efficient.
Today was one of those rare mornings on which we both had fifteen-second narratives to exchange.
Courtesy of my dream, I woke up angry at Joe at 4:28 am. I was also cold and uncomfortable. Even though we'd left Mr Burns sacked out on the couch when we went to bed, he had found his way to us, homing his way in between us and doing his usual expansion-to-three-times-normal-size trick in the dark of the night. The snuggling is very cute, but also something we are going to have to deal with stat, unless we want another 14 years of interrupted sleep.
Anyway, in the dream Joe had left the front gate open while putting stuff in his truck and, in a moment of inattention, had allowed Mr Burns not only to scamper out but to dart across our busy street. From where I stood frozen in the dream, I could make out Burns's legs across traffic, the rest of him obscured by the cars whizzing by, across the street where he'd gone to greet another dog. I felt both scared and angry, since angry is my go-to emotion, the way most of my not-happy emotions come out, whether I've started out angry or not. That's a whole other story though...
Probably I had this dream because Joe had told me just the day before that Mr Burns had actually darted out of the shop and across the street IN REAL LIFE. With this puppy, in a way I don't remember experiencing with Jasper, both Joe and I are incredible worriers. Maybe because the heartbreak of our loss of Jas is still keen, we are both delighted by every Burnsy detail but also nutty with fear about anything being wrong with him, hurting him, killing him. Seriously, we're like new and nervous parents constantly checking: is he still breathing?
Joe's dream was that he saved me from drowning. I jumped off a dock into clear water in an uninflated snorkeling vest and sank as he watched. I was blowing into it, trying to inflate it, as I sank. Managed to almost break the surface but then sank again, my hands in frustrated fists. At which point he jumped in to get me and woke up.
Maybe this dream harks back to his memories of my night-dive vertigo experience in which I really did sink like a stone out of sight in the darkness, plummeting toward the bottom of that little bay in the Channel Islands. Then too Joe went after me, though ultimately it was our dive instructor who grabbed me, understanding what had happened, why I was completely freaked out, feeling like I was spinning when I was absolutely still, sucking air, panicked eyes popping out of my head. Or maybe the dream was just, as one of my Russian professors used to say in his thickly-accented English, "mental garrrrbage." Or maybe it really has to do with me sinking, being pissed off about my efforts to save myself not working, and sinking again.
That's the thing. Dreams are like that, they're not real. It takes me a while to shake off their influence some days, when they're particularly weird. This morning I'm stewing in them a little bit for what they reveal about our inner states.