Once a year, a local movie theatre shows all of the films nominated for Academy Awards in the Animated Short Film category. Not your garden-variety Saturday morning cartoons, but serious films with themes ranging from horror to childhood to the absurd. My dreams are often like this film festival: short, disconnected stories, and yet they are beautiful, haunting, and thought-provoking.
Dreams feel real and totally serious when you’re having them. It’s not until you try to explain them to someone that you see the things that don’t make sense or fit together. Sometimes, I’m only left with a feeling about a dream, and can’t grasp any words to describe them – like trying to pick up a delicate piece of fabric while it disintegrates and turn to dust. But this week my dreams have been vivid and filled with memorable details that follow me around all day.
Night #1: I’m roaming through someone’s home, uninvited. The rooms are irregularly shaped, and flow together. I’m drawn to one bright room to find that the ceiling and walls are made up of a series of skylights. A baby stands in a crib, and I notice the walls are decorated with African animals. In the next room, the owners catch up with me, mistaking me for someone come to correct their window treatments. “The awnings aren’t what we ordered – take them back and bring us the right ones”. At that moment, I see how I’ll get out of there, so I play along: “I’ll have someone from the store come take them down”, and then I walk outside. Looking back at the building, I see the room made entirely of skylights, adjacent to a playground.
Night #2: I’m with a group of people getting ready for the prom and our clothes are covered with sequins.
Night #3: I buy a colorful rectangular frieze of bowling balls and bowling pins. It is actually four or six separate pieces. Someone is complaining to me that I haven’t paid enough, that I need to pay for each section separately. I think I bought the set, with a different, discounted price. Someone is scoffing, wondering why I would buy so many bowling balls and pins. I point out that they are miniatures, not the size you actually play with.
I’ve been very busy the last two weeks. We hosted a large, high-profile event at work, I finished a long project, we’re preparing for a Thanksgiving trip, and I bought a miniature sculpture shaped like an animal. Sleep should be a refuge, but instead of shutting down, my brain is busy processing and recombining everything into a puzzle filled with imagery and symbols. When I tell my husband about my dreams, he can usually put his finger on themes that ring true: feeling exposed or in control, gearing up for something special, weighing options for an important choice.
Dreams – my personal movies – red carpet premiers, sometimes available in serial format or reruns. And I don’t even have to eat popcorn before bed.