In the time of CoronaVirus, I am sure I am not the only person having strange dreams.
Funnily, they so far don’t involve having the virus itself, per se. But they are dreams about safety.
Many of them involve my now 40-something son. Except he isn’t that age in my dreams. He’s anywhere from toddler to teen. The dream itself is about struggling to find a job so I can safely get him back home to some unidentified place in California, where he spent his formative years.
I know this is anxiety for his safety now, mostly because he is my son, but also because he is a healthcare worker. It is being expressed in the economic anxiety I lived with for so many years as a single working mother, trying to provide a more secure “middle class” home for him than the one in which I grew up.
Also, as I have lived in Georgia for more than 20 years in retirement, I am REALLY missing California right now. Georgia may offer more house for the money, but California isn’t opening up tattoo parlors today when the state hasn’t hit its peak viral rate yet, either.
I am dreaming about my parents who raised me and my Uncle Dick and Aunt Norma. They somehow figure into my dreams about getting my son to safety by finding a job. I am not sure why, since they lived in Indiana and Michigan, respectively, during my California years.
Perhaps an underlying gnawing about not returning to my own family when I divorced after six years of marriage? But had I done that, my son would have grown up not knowing his father. As I am unsure who my birth father was, it was, again, something I didn’t want for him.
People I loved early in my life have also shown up. My summer neighbor, Tom, for example.
I grew up in a community that was small, rural farming in the fall through spring months, and a summer lake-side resort Memorial Day to Labor Day. We lived in our modest cottage home year round. Our neighbors in summer were the more well-to-do from larger cities in the northeast triangle of Indiana-Ohio-Michigan. Bankers. Telephone company executives. Insurance agency owners. Construction company owners.
I adored Tom, though considering he spent one July 4th throwing cherry bombs in my general direction, you might wonder why.
I think it was because of the night he pounded on our screen door when my parents were having a drunken argument heard throughout the neighborhood. He grabbed me, took me a distance away from the house, and made sure I was safe among other adults until my parents calmed down.
For that and many other reasons, he was my hero.
I have also had dreams of my junior high school crush, Jimmy. They are dreams of what kind of relationship might have formed had my parents not moved to Ohio just as I started freshman year.
When I see my friends sitting at Church holding hands with the sweethearts they married right out of high school 40, 50, 60 years later, I always think of Jimmy and what mighta, coulda, shoulda? been.
So far, there have been no dreams of my earliest college days at Indiana University studying Comparative Literature before I joined the Navy and ended up in California for 20 years. No dreams about being the professor one of my therapists always said I should have been, the books I should have written.
But we can only go back in time in our dreams, whatever they may be.
Whether to search for safety for those we most love or for ourselves from those we once loved, the nightmarish reality of COVID-19 in our lives has turned our sweet dreams into something we reach out for but can no longer grasp.