There’s a dream I’ve been having lately, reoccurring but spotty as hell. In the dream I’m walking down a field road and it’s overgrown and thick enough to slow me down but not overly so. It’s Spring and I can smell the plants growing and hear the birds singing. It’s a beautiful day, or it had been the two or three times I’ve had the dream. I’m walking along and there’s a slight rise in the land and as I top the rise I see a young man, maybe in his thirties, who is standing at the bottom of this slight hill, and he’s all sorts of out of sorts.
He’s has no idea where he is or for that matter, who he is, or why he’s here. He can speak English, certainly, but then it occurs to me that I am not aware of what language I speak until I pay attention to it. If Russian was suddenly my native tongue would I realize it? I have no idea what makes me think of this while I’m trying to help the young man, but I do.
Back to the very agitated young man.
He’s got longish hair but not overly so but he does keep brushing it back away from his eyes even when it isn’t there. His hair is jet black with no hint of grey yet and he’s got dark eyes. He’s wearing a long sleeve knitted sweater as if he’s dressed for much colder weather than what’s here, wherever here might be. I simplify things for him a bit; I show him the tracks my boots have made in the dirt going back uphill. He looks at the bottom of his shoes and then we search for which direction he came from. Nothing.
“You’re part of my dream” I tell him. That goes over really well.
So he tell me that he’s a real person and that I am part of his dream, but he has to admit that I left footprints and he didn’t. That’s one for the home team. I also remember who I am and I know where I am, kinda. And I’m dressed for the weather and he isn’t. I feel much better about all of this than the young man does. But then he asks me if I know I am dreaming why don’t I wake up? I rarely don’t know I’m dreaming, to some degree and rarely does this wake me up.
The young man turns and runs away, full gallop, trips, spins and then falls on his back, rolls up, and runs away some more. I stand there and watch all of this but soon enough he’s gone and out of sight. I keep walking, because now I am pretty sure I’m going to wake up. The dream feels less real and some of the background is fading away from me. The birds are gone and the scent of flowers is missing down.
“What if you’re wrong?” And there he is as if he never left.
“What if you’re part of my dream?” he asks and I have to admit I have no answers to his questions.
So we both sit down together and try to figure out which one of us doesn’t exist. The fact that he remembers nothing of who he is and I can remember my name says a lot. I run through common names for guys in America, and it is odd that I keep thinking he’s foreign, but nothing rings a bell. He asks me where I live and I tell him that we’re in a place called Hickory Head, in South Georgia, but he’s drawing a blank there. I ask him what he expects to see here and he’s lost at that question.
We sit in silence and I can smell things again and hear things again as well. Is this a younger version of myself? No, the hair is too thick. I was going bald in my twenties. Is this a younger version of someone I knew? He looks oddly familiar. But I would have remembered someone so agitated.
“So this is it?” he asks and I have no idea what he’s saying.
“No, really, if I am part of your dream is this the best you can do?” He stands up and looks around. “Your mind invents me and all it can do is have me lost in this goddamn field?”
I never thought about it. I never thought that maybe my dreams might demand more from me than whatever was going on. I start to apologize and wonder what I’m apologizing for. I’m sorry I’m not more creative when I’m asleep? Sorry Kate Upton isn’t here serving tea? (Truly!) Or that he and I aren’t on the space shuttle talking about existence while landing on the moon?
Believe it or not, I have had this discussion with myself. I’ve had sex dreams with women I’ve known, some of them with women who aren’t interested in me as far as I know, and it’s more than a little disconcerting to talk to a woman awake when I was naked with her in my sleep less than a day ago. I always feel a little strange waking up from those dreams as if it’s an invasion of their privacy.
Really, though, the young man has a point, if this is my dream is this the best I get? I could have any number of exciting dreams but I’m talking to a figment of my imagination who is have an existential meltdown. Does this seem right to you, Jubal Early?
The young man walks around hugging his arms around his sides. “I’ve got to go.” He tells me this as he walks off. “At least give me a damn name next time.”
I watch as he walks away, down the same path he ran earlier and I have no idea how he got back to where we were so quickly. I turn and walk away and hear the sounds of birds, smell the scent of wet dogs, and realize Tyger Linn has just leapt upon the bed and wanted breakfast.
The young man disappears and he is forever nameless.