I am hit-or-miss when it comes to remembering my dreams. While they are often bizarre, they are not usually all that detailed; or rather, the details are not describable in any way that remotely makes sense. That said, I do have a few standard stress dreams which seem to repeat themselves, especially when I’m anxious about something.
There’s the snake dream. Often many of them will be in my yard and I’ll need to get into or out of the house. Plenty of times the setting has been the house where I grew up, but more recently I tend to find myself in a new house and discover that my yard is in fact a habitat for poisonous snakes, and I have to figure out how to co-exist with them. Once I was on some sort of camping or mountain-climbing trip, and a giant snake the color of those reddish garden hoses, with bright yellow and blue diamonds along its back, pretty much followed me the whole way. Come to think of it, just last night I was traveling along some kind of path, lined with cobras that were spitting and lunging at me. Thankfully the snakes in my dreams have almost never tried to hurt me. Even the cobras were all about intimidation, and didn’t try to actually touch me. The only time in my dreams that a snake intended harm was when I was in the desert with the Von Trapp family. Maria was singing in the background (of course). I was kneeling down, and a rattlesnake was headed my way while my legs were stuck to the ground. It made sense at the time. The only thing I could do was lie backward with my legs still in place, folded behind me. The snake didn't get to me, however, because I woke myself up. It was one of the few times I've sucessfully woken myself up from a dream. Woken--is that a word? It sounds weird...
Then there’s the one where my teeth are falling out, one by one. It starts with one of my bottom front ones wiggling loose. The ones with the retainer cemented to them. Then another, then a top one, and so on, until my molars start coming out too.
And the one where I'm trying to dial a phone number, but just can't get it right. Not just once or twice. Like 10 times. And usually it's for something important, such as calling the fire department. And there is no such thing as 9-1-1 in this dream, it's a full number I'm trying to dial. It's maddening.
There’s the one where I’m teaching a class and mutiny is afoot. One kid will be loud & raucous, or refusing and stay put. Just as I get him/her under control, someone on the opposite end of the room does the same thing. It gradually gets worse until I’m desperately screaming for everyone to sit down and shut up, and the entire class thinks it’s a great game, messing with my head. I had this dream regularly when I was an actual teacher, usually in the weeks leading up to a new year or semester. Even today, I dream of classroom mutiny every so often.
Another school dream started popping up when I was in grad school. In this one, I’m registered full-time, or working full-time while registered for a class or two. Either way, somehow I'll totally forget to attend one class, until about halfway through the term, when I’ll realize it and make plans to catch up and pass the class, but somehow I keep forgetting to show up. Once I was back in high school, needing one class to graduate, and I just couldn’t seem to get to the dang class. It was dreadful.
The one good thing about stress dreams, if such a thing exists, is that they very rarely come true to their full extent in real life. I did forget to go to a lab once in grad school. I left school after class, completely forgetting that lab was held right after the lecture. It wasn’t even the first class of the quarter…I simply forgot. I was very fortunate in that I didn’t miss anything. Even if I had, it would have been a pain to make up the work, but it would have been do-able. I have seen a snake in my yard, but it was small & harmless. We left each other alone, and it went away, and I never saw it again. As an adult, I’ve lost a crown, but never a tooth, and even my worst classroom days never came close to full-scale anarchy.
Being a nervous-type, I deal with stress dreams by talking myself down from the anxiety. Usually a quick pep talk about how it was all a dream will suffice. When that doesn’t work, I devise a plan of action to prevent the events in the dream from ever coming true.
Yesterday was a banner day in the history of stress dreams, as I had what apparently was a sympathy-stress-dream. I’ve never heard of this occurring before, but there’s a first time for everything, I suppose. My dream involved my friend, the future Mrs. L., who is getting married in 2 months. Some background info: the Cat-Daddy and I will be helping out, making sure that the schedule runs as smoothly as possible. It will also help to know that Mrs. L. is currently storing her dress in my guest room, until it’s time to have it altered and pressed before the big day. Understandably, Mrs. L. is busy with plans & preparations, but my role is easy. I get to show up in nice-ish clothes and boss people around. Very little stress on my end. You'd think so anyway...
So in my dream it was suddenly Mrs. L.’s wedding day. To begin with, I wondered how time had passed so quickly, as we had completely skipped the month of April. I had been looking forward to bossing people around, ala “What are you doing here? You were supposed to be over there ten minutes ago!!” but again, time had gotten away from me, and it was now just a couple hours before the wedding. I got my butt to the church, and when I finally got there it was an hour prior to the wedding, and pretty much everything seemed to be in order, except that Mrs. L. wasn’t in her dress yet. I asked her about it, and it turns out it was my job to bring the dress from my house to the church for her, and I’d completely forgotten! So we tracked down the Cat-Daddy, asking him to drive home and pick up the dress. But it wasn’t just the dress; there was the slip, the veil, and accessories. So I started to write out a list so he would know to get everything. Well, I tried & tried, but my writing was totally illegible, so Mrs. L. and I finally decided to go ourselves so we’d be sure to get all of the necessary accoutrements.
We got to my house and started grabbing the dress and accessories, but as we grabbed stuff, there was more & more for us to take. Flower girl dresses, flower girl gifts, entire suitcases of clothes, towels, & shoes (for the honeymoon?? I have no idea). And I'm almost certain there was a lava lamp in there somewhere. Soon Mrs. L.’s mom showed up and volunteered to pack & take most of the stuff for us so we could get back to the church and start the wedding ASAP.
At this point my house was no longer the house I live in now, it was some random house in extremely west Phoenix, and it was my parents’ house and I was just staying with them for the wedding. Or something like that. Whatever it was, it made sense at the time. Mrs. L. and I loaded up the car and were getting ready to go just as a strange couple drove up to the house asking about the wedding. We told them everything was being held at the church an hour away, and they could follow us there if they wanted to, all the while thinking, “duh, why would they come here??” We got into the car & headed down the street. The couple got into their car & started to pull out. I watched for them to follow us in my rearview mirror, but they never did, so I was worried that they were actually there to rob my (or rather my parents’) house, and had just pretended that they were going to follow us to the wedding, when in fact they were going to stuff my parents' belongings into their tiny 1985 Honda Accord hatchback.
Consequently, I decided to drive back around the block & check on the house, only I wasn’t at all familiar with the neighborhood and got all turned around. I never did make it back to check on the house. Eventually I ended up on a main road a good mile away, except that we were now in extremely east Phoenix. Nothing was familiar, but we did make our way up to Loop 202 so we could catch a commuter roller-coaster back to the church.
Yes, a commuter roller-coaster.
An interesting concept, but terribly inefficient, as we kept having to debark and get back in line at several of the stops. And as we crossed into different cities, the coasters were very different. The Scottsdale portion, for example, was bright & shiny & new, and had loops & turns, etc., while the Mesa portion was old & dingy, with crappy seats (sorry, Mesa) that kept ejecting us out of them so we'd have to get back in & try to get going again. This went on for quite some time, and became pretty convoluted. The last thing I remember is being stuck in a warehouse-setting, waiting for one of three doors to open and the coaster to whisk me through it to wherever was next. Mrs. L. walked up wondering what on earth we were doing here when we had to get back to the church for her wedding. From there the dream got fuzzy, and I think it transitioned into a whole other theme involving bikes, snow, and a very strange amusement park. Anyway, to summarize, we did not get back to the church for the wedding.
As a result of this dream, I made two major decisions:
1) Mrs. L. is to retrieve her dress from my house long before an hour prior to her wedding, and I will not be responsible for it.
2) I’m not going anywhere near a commuter roller-coaster unless I have ample time to spare.