To sleep, perchance to dream—

Discover Something New Every Day: The Challenge

Every evening my dogs take a hard, dog-sleep nap. Usually this occurs from about 6:30 until about 8:00 p.m., and almost nothing can interrupt them. At my house we call this “The 7 o’clock flop” so named after one of our late dogs who used to flop down with a thud and a sigh as she got ready for her 7 o’clock siesta. My two current dogs snore, twitch, yelp, and run in their dog-sleep dreams during evening naptime. Sometimes they cry like it’s the end of the world.

I wonder if their dreams recur like mine do, like the dream I woke up with this morning. The details of the dream are gone now, but the setting is vivid and always the same: I’m inside an old house that is an amalgamation of all my past bedrooms, my grandmother’s boarding house, and my great aunt’s attic room. But unlike my real past habitations, this house is full of run-down, nasty bedrooms: dirt floors, damp limestone walls, velour-covered bedsteads (avocado, moth-eaten, shabby) or just soiled mattresses on the floor surrounded by heaps of bedclothes and trash. Some of the bedrooms have no windows. Those that do have windows are draped in yards of heavy, dusty brocade or velvet. All the rooms are dark as a cave, yet I can see the filth all around me. Some of the bedrooms have outside doors that lead to balconies with no stairs or fire escapes. In the dream I experience vertigo and claustrophobia, but whenever I flee—panicked—from one bedroom, I just run into another, worse bedroom. There’s no escape.

Surely and obviously this recurring dream has some entrenched meaning buried deep among my fears or guilt or insecurities. . . “ay, there’s the rub.” This morning I instinctively began the day with organizing, planning, cleaning, writing—probably an antidote to the messes in my dreams.

I also felt an intense urge to twitch, yelp, run and cry like it’s the end of the world.


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