Dreams From The Office Floor
The stage is set. I lie on the floor of my father’s office, curled into the fetal position with my pillow-nested head in the corner of what is essentially a well-decorated closet with a desk. Hour by hour of comings and goings—open doors and closed doors—my spine slowly devolves into a shriveled fractal, and I am—without fail—dragged through miles of hazy disorientation during the high tide of my deepest sleep. I wash ashore veritably beat-up and out of touch with my senses, sometimes not even knowing where or when I am. However, even in those early, fish out-of-water moments of rising, the dream is always eerily clear in my memory.
I found myself the captain of a cruise ship. Mind, I say cruise ship, but it was more like an idealized suburban neighborhood that had drifted to sea atop a rejected slice of tectonic plate, complete with barbeque parties and pastel vintage cars. As is to be expected, the exact events of what happened escape me. This particular dream was of the breed that leaves you with only images and a slow-burning feeling of nostalgia, and I cannot say I remember the vague chain of events. All I have to go on is the feeling—but what a feeling! There was something about being far away from land in a happy community that felt secure. It was secure, in a way reminiscent of my childhood, back when all my stories took place in a small town or on a space ship. I saw made up faces, a party under the stars, bizarre scenes below deck—but I just can’t remember now. That feeling was visceral nonetheless, and it stuck with me long into the daylight.
Just before dark on the campus quad, I was greeted by a familiar face. The setting only exists in my peripherals, so all I know was that it was sunset when I ran into my old friend, and dark when the dream was cut short. This is a person who I associate almost exclusively with an especially joyful season of my life. They were the key thread in a tiny tapestry of close classmates that I had the privilege of sharing an adventure with—sharing myself with, really. More than that, I can feel even the memory of this individual defying the definitions I have tried to create. Perhaps you will be lucky enough during your journeys to meet one of those few people that radiate Life: those precious few with the unprecedented power to truly make you better. And if you have… Never let them go. You see, in waking life, I haven’t seen or spoken to this person since winter a year ago. But in the vision, she was there. And we were both so happy. I’m sure we talked, and I’m sure that somewhere in the writer’s room of my corpus callosum, we’re still talking. Selfish or not, I’ve always wanted them back—no psychoanalysis required. But daydreaming will never be as potent as actual dreaming, and as far as my heart was concerned, there on the office floor, I got my wish.
Of all the things in the Pandora’s Box of my psyche, such clear, honest wish fulfillment terrified me the most. But to channel the spirit of Freud one last time, never forget that there are unconscious wishes just as much as there are conscious ones. For better or worse I have been given a glimpse of my unconscious mind. I can no longer ignore the palate of emotions that was previously so alien to me; I have learned, and I cannot unlearn. There is a deep, twisting ache in my chest just to recall that final dream.
Somewhere in Europe, I walked down a cobblestone street. I was an older incarnation of myself, because beside me, dressed in brightly colored dresses and radiant smiles that echoed-forth bubbly laughter were two beautiful blonde-haired daughters. They tugged my coat, held my hands, skipped around me and ignited the atmosphere with their joy. I’m guessing they were young—between four and eight. You must understand that I struggle with children quite a bit, and my friends can attest that my preferred label for them is ‘little monsters’, but in the dream my cynicism was miraculously absent. I was filled only with incapacitating protectiveness and the purest love. They were my little princesses, and I had no reason to care about anything else in the world. I would answer their questions and act characters for them, I would truly listen to them; I’d nod and do a voice, lifting one up off the ground while holding the other close. Their mother was nowhere to be seen, but nothing was wrong or tragic. It seemed she was nearby, and there was a reason for us being there, since we seemed to be headed toward a distant structure.
The three of us approached, finding a very Romanticized sunset orange café, which crowned an enchanting square of young lovers and babbling fountains. The girls upheld a constant barrage of questions, while I (to the best of my powers) retaliated with bite-sized philosophical rebuttals till we reached the threshold. Then—
An alarm. That stupid, shrill, irritating alarm—why did I make it? Why did I set it? The answers come flooding back, and every time, I have to face my demons of deadlines, undone work, and crushing commitments. In these and many more cases, the thought following my jarring extraction is the always same: “I want to go back”. I want to be a cruise ship captain again, I want to see my best friend again… I want my little girls back.
Why, then, as helpless and panicked as I feel on each of the aforementioned occasions, do I keep returning to the office floor? Surely there can be no running, no hiding, no fighting of this. But is it right to blame the dreams for being the slow death me? No. Death is in the waking; it’s in the agony of having the band-aid ripped off, forcing me to squint through painful sunshine and smile through polite interactions with my peers. Why go back to the dark when I know what lurks in the light at the end of tunnel? Maybe it’s because my physiology and I just enjoy sleep too much. But maybe it’s because, wherever it is my soul goes when I turn out the lights, I want to stay.
Writer: Julian Babad is a Film and Psychology student and lifelong So-Cal resident. He is currently working on projects in songwriting and independent film.
Artist: Marlon Rizo is a student and photographer influenced by art and visual storytelling.