Dreaming in a Bad Way

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Like a responsible super-senior, I ditched my last class and came home early. In my Milton class, I fought to stay awake by weighing the pros and cons of going to my next class, which, two days in, revealed itself to be a huge waste of time. University requirements under the guise of being educational in terms of “American Cultures” usually are. So I walked in the general direction of the class then turned right and headed home.

My housemate Maria was also home. We were in the same American Cultures class and had talked earlier about ditching – so I wasn’t surprised to run into her on the stairs. She was holding an empty glass smeared with melted ice cream.

“Hello,” I said, “Fancy seeing you here…”

She laughed and asked me what I was going to do with all my free time.

“Take a nap,” I said.

“I wish I could.”

“Why can’t you?” Napping, like internet, should be available to everyone.

She couldn’t nap because she’d wake up with a headache every time. “It’s just not worth it for me,” she said.

I understood what she meant. As well-napped as I am, a good nap can be extremely elusive. Timing is everything, as is the time of day. Nap too early and it’s like you’re extending your lazing around in bed time. Nap too late and it throws off your actual bedtime. I like to nap between three and five pm, ideally for an hour, even though scientific studies show that a half-hour nap has the most energizing benefits.

I wanted to nap for an hour today and told Maria so.

“D’you think you could wake me up at three thirty?”

“You’re not going to be grumpy?”

“No way,” I said, “I need to get up or else I’ll just sleep forever. I’m aiming for one of those refreshing naps.”

She shrugged and said she’d knock on my door when the time came. I climbed into bed and closed my eyes.

True to her word, she banged on my door at 3:30. It startled me, but I was not fully awake. I had broken the thirty-minute rule and was feeling even more tired than when I had first lain down – I thanked her for banging on the door and fell back to the pillow, hoping for more of the same delicious slumber, but my brain was already going haywire.

I dreamed, in a bad way. I had parked my car in some lot and could not find it. My friends Marvin and Calvin had picked me up and offered to take me to my car. I sat in the back seat, looking anxiously out the window at passing cars as we drove from lot to lot. “Is it here?” asked Calvin, every so often.

“No,” I’d say. My voice was tinged with worry. In the dream, my and their parents were waiting at their house, so that we could leave for some road trip. My father had left a voice mail on my phone saying they were waiting patiently for us, and that he had bought me a chain of some sort, to go with a pendant. “I have the chain,” he said, his voice calm and happy, “I hope you will like it.”

In the car, I wrung my hands and thought about the chain. Marvin impatiently tapped his fingers against his knees and made heavy sighing sounds. “Where did you park your car, Betty?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know.”

All the lots started to look the same, surrounded by bland apartment complexes that had the same shaped pools. It was a horrible labyrinth. I would never find my car, a white Prius, and I worried that everyone was waiting for me. The boys were patient enough, but as Calvin made another turn, his phone rang and he picked it up. It was some girl, obviously in her teens, looking for one of his friends, whom she wanted to go out with.

“So you’re not with him?” she said.

“Nope,” said Calvin, one hand on the wheel. It struck me then how old they had grown – driving me around, looking for my goddamn car when they had lives of their own. I used to tutor them, you see, but now they were playing patience with me, and I obviously didn’t know a thing anymore.

It didn’t look like we were getting anywhere. My car was nowhere to be found and I feared we were in another city altogether. And I was beginning to feel dizzy, as the buildings and cars flew by and Calvin kept turning and turning….

I woke up, my neck at an awkward angle, but immediately relieved that it had just been a dream. I was about to burst in my dream, beneath the pressure of two families waiting for me to find my car so that we could go on a trip.

Stepping out of my room, I heard voices in the kitchen. Maria laughing with our housemate Kirsten.

“Hey guys,” I said.

“You went back to sleep?” Maria asked.

“I did. I shouldn’t have. I had bad dreams.”

Maria chuckled. “My dreams are very bland. And repetitive.”

“How so?”

“They’re boring,” she said.


She sighed, and her expression said, “You asked for it.” “I usually dream about charging my ipod.”

I stared at her. “Really. That’s it?”

“Yup. I charge my ipod. It’s charged. I wake up.”

“Wow. They are boring.”

It seemed boastful to talk about my own more vivid dreams, the most recent one excluded, but I did so anyway. I told her about flying and about being chased by dogs. Kirsten and Maria were impressed – neither of them ever dreamed about flying.

“For some reason though,” I paused for a minute, “I’m always running and jumping over trashcans.”

“That’s awful,” Maria said.

“Yeah… you charge your ipod. But adrenaline pumps through my veins and I jump over trashcans. Eventually I start flying.”

“Crazy,” they both said.


It got quiet in the kitchen. Kirsten left to check on her laundry. I smiled tiredly at Maria and wondered why the hell I’m always either lost or running.

4 thoughts on “Dreaming in a Bad Way

  1. I feel like I usually hear it referred to as just plain UT (I believe it's the flagship school of the UT system, much in the same way Cal is for the UC system). That'd be reason #2 for me to revisit Austin, if you ended up going there.
    And yep, Amarillo is in fact in the panhandle (it's about the only city that is. The rest, as far as I can tell, is just a smattering of small towns). My first time through was on my way to Oklahoma with Roy and Ed (who was getting stationed for the first time after finishing all of his training). The second time was on the way to New York.

  2. Trash can hurdling should be an Olympic event.

    When I lose things in dreams, I usually go searching for them and stumble into new dreams where there are no lost things, only dragons to be slayed or multiple choice exams to be taken. I'm not sure it's an improvement.

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