Saturday, February 28, 2009
“Love is an attempt to change a piece of a dream-world into reality.”
--Henry David Thoreau
What does it mean when someone dies in a dream?
It is some subconscious message that you want them to die? Or is death in a dream a stand-in for change?
I had these questions this week when I dreamed about a former crush of mine whom I had not seen or spoken with in seven years.
This woman--we’ll call her Mary Jane--never returned my affection, but she was always ready to laugh at my jokes and call me when she needed someone to talk to.
I hinted at, but never really told her of my feelings for fear of losing whatever relationship we had, but I kept hoping and hoping that I’d win her over. Brace yourself for a shock, but my hoping didn’t do me any good.
For when it came to love, sex and marriage, Mary Jane, like so many woman in my life, made sure to get it all from somebody else. The last time I heard from her was in 2002, when she called me to whine about her then-boyfriend dumping her.
That was very stressful time of my life. September 11 was still a fresh wound at this time and it was a bad memory for me, since I was standing across the street when the planes hit.
My mother was very ill then and she would eventually die in July of ’02. So I was kind of thrilled to hear from Mary Jane, praying like some desperate little puppy that she would finally see me for the prize catch that I am.
During our phone conversation, I told her that I had always been crazy about her, and she was so surprised, no, really? Why, she had no idea…a total mystery to her…a shocking revelation…ah, screw you, sweetheart.
We talked about getting together soon, but I never heard from her again. I found out that the boyfriend had taken her back and they were getting married.
So Mary Jane managed to call in the period between the two worst events of my life—9/11 and my mother’s death—and talk about herself.
I wrote off Mary Jane and for the most part, I kept her out of my life. I did the occasional Google search for her name, but even that ran eventually ran its course like a virus.
But then Mary Jane made a surprise return to my life on Thursday, in both reality and fantasy.
I learned that she had been laid off from her job at New England newspaper-- along with about 100 other people in yet another sign of this industry’s demise.
When I got the news, perhaps—just perhaps--I felt the briefest, tiniest surge of schadenfreude about her situation before I began to shudder at the thought of anyone being out of work right now.
The job situation is so dismal these days the employment numbers read more like a casualty list from the front. Today it’s you, tomorrow it’s you, and no one is above the slaughter.
And then that night I dreamed about Mary Jane. Specifically, I dreamed she had been killed while flying some strange one-man aircraft.
In the dream I was reading a newspaper account of the accident, which said Mary Jane was adjusting a video camera to aim at herself—some kind a flight recorder I suppose—when the plane suddenly dipped to the left and smashed to the ground.
I “saw” the wreckage, but nothing else, thank God. It was just a small pile of smoldering debris; it was hard to believe anyone could fly in that thing.
And then I was walking on some country road, which I was believe was close to the crash site, and I started crying.
I’m sorry I was so angry, I thought. I’ll see you soon, Mary Jane. And maybe you’ll love me in the afterlife.
I woke up shuddering, convinced for a second that Mary Jane was actually deceased. It took a few moments before I realized that she was okay, but I was still shaken by this nightmare. I had actually killed somebody in my mind.
I'm terrified of flying and this fear, combined with the recent news of plane crashes, plus an NBC special I watched about a Concorde crash, probably all combined to create the deadly airplane vision in my mind.
I’ve been going through some strange times recently regarding some of my ex-girlfriends. I learned that one woman I had treated terribly had become a lesbian; and another one whom I despised for going out of her way to humiliate me was happily married with a child.
In my little world, this last beast does not deserve to be happy, but should rightly be rotting in some Eastern European dungeon for crimes against my masculinity. Really have to lay off Google...
It’s interesting to note the video camera as the cause of Mary Jane's dream death, which harks back to my real-life experience with her Jane being self-centered and uncaring.
So was I subconsciously hoping Mary Jane would die because she rejected me? I was angry with her, but, hell, that’s pretty much passed.
The shrinks say that we appear as every one and everything in our dreams, so in addition to being the mourner, I’m also the victim, the demolished plane, and even the strange lady I saw walking by me just before I woke up. (What the hell was with her, anyway, and why did she do a double take when I walked by?)
Perhaps the “death” was as a substitute image for Mary Jane losing her job because it can be such a traumatic event. And my guilt was…my guilt.
And, let's be honest--I'm no innocent victim. I've hurt enough women in my life to know that I'm in no position to throw stones...or shoot down airplanes. I wonder if any of these women ever dreamed of my demise.
I’d like to think that the death was meant to symbolize the demise of any lingering hostility I felt toward Mary Jane, that it’s high time to bury my anger and move the hell on.
I like that theory the best, so I’m going to go with that one. I’ll work on putting my anger aside, focus on the present, and stay away from strange airplanes.