Last night, I dreamt…
That’s how most of my grandmother’s conversations began. It was a family ritual, discussing our sleep induced adventures over coffee and buttered toast. We’d call each other and relate the stories, savoring each word and the images conveyed. We would examine and dissect them, trying to decipher their meaning.
Dream dictionaries were commonly read at her house, like the latest issue of a favorite magazine or the newspaper. Sometimes, they offered opposing meanings to the same word, causing us to argue at length about the validity of such rigid interpretations.
While sitting on the porch, or looking at the night sky, the conversation would inevitably return to our dreams. Occasionally a dream was so disturbing or eerily prophetic, that it would become part of the family lore. We all had our favorites, and would ask for them by a handle of sorts.
-“Mami, tell the one about the indian”, and the story would be retold in the exact same words as the first time, no embellishing allowed or needed. We were not picky or elitist, any dream could spark a conversation, in which aunts, cousins, great uncles and siblings were encouraged to participate. Some families watch the game on TV for Thanksgiving, we discussed dreams.
Of the many family memories, this is perhaps, my most cherished. Because of it, dreams and nightmares are my domain. Vivid, lucid, random, profound. Sometimes, a dream had many years ago, will take hold of my imagination for a few days, absorbing all my interest and causing me to neglect all my mundane responsibilities.
When a friend or acquaintance shares with me one of these very private and telling tokens of our subconscious, it is a gift of immeasurable value. And I must confess that occasionally when a particularly good dream is had by another, a voracious envy takes over, wondering why this dream could not have been had by me. But mostly, these exchanges help me remember my own oneiric adventures.
Which leads me to ask. What did you dream about last night?