January 29, 2006

The Dream Hoarder

From youth to age he kept his dream journal, recorded faithfully each morning as he grasped the trailing bedsheet of each dream, staying a minute more in the blessed land before being exiled into daylight. Notebook after notebook filled the years: a life’s work in night words, an autobiography in symbols; and he prided himself on being the best remembrerer, keeping not only the gross plots of the dreams but all the half-glimpsed décor and extra characters, the calendar on the wall overlooking the seduction, the burnt-out candle turning into a suitcase. All the landmark dreams were there, the signposts of his life – the dream about stealing his motorcycle back from Death, the dream about the ship with his fate written on its hull – and the little dreams too, the dream of sleet in Hawaii, the dream of the CD that skipped. After writing each morning’s dreams, he would sit on the edge of the bed interpreting: planning how the dreams should guide his day.

When he was old and in his last illness he called for his trunk full of dream journals and started reading from the earliest one. And his heart sank. At first he read slowly, disbelieving, but testing every hope; and then he skimmed quickly, impatient, desperate for some tiny glimmer of worth to leap to his eye. They were so boring it sent a shock down his spine.

He rang the buzzer for the nurse. “Could you turn on the TV for me, please?”

I dreamed this last night, and I wonder what it means.

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