Dreaming Ain't What It Used to Be

I was going to continue on with my series about my great-great-grandfather, but instead I am going to interject with an entry about something else. The ancient family history has become a little bit overwhelming in a way that I would like to avoid for a few days, and something else that is equally as overwhelming but in a way less disgruntling has been going on which I wouldn't mind writing about.

And while I'm sharing, I will also make an honest attempt at writing less cumbersome sentences.

Firstly, I have been having vivid and detailed dreams about some daughter that I apparently recently gave birth to in the dream world. The first of these dreams revolved around my giving her the middle name of Four. I was quite fond of the name Four in this dream, but my friend Starcat was upset that I hadn't given her the middle name of Eight. Freak. See, the number four is one of my favourite numbers and eight is his. You'd think that in my dream I would have named her Thirteen to freak out my triskaidekaphobic husband, the Fiery One.

In another of these daughter-themed dreams, the Fiery One, his family, and I were all flying to the city they originated from to attend a prom that was taking place to celebrate his twenty-year high school reunion. He's not old enough for that yet, but time is wonderfully non-linear in dreams. I was unable to fly there with the rest of them and caught a later flight on my own. I was sitting in my seat on the airplane, looking forward to the holiday, when the cushion beneath me became really wet and I suddenly felt dizzy. My seat mate motioned a stewardess over just as I began to cramp, and she deduced that I was in labour.

I had plumped up a bit recently and was occasionally experiencing gas, heartburn, and fatigue, but I had been completely unaware of my pregnancy. Thankfully, my labour was quick, and I was holding my new baby girl wrapped in a little airplane blanket by the time we landed. The whole thing was terribly exciting and fantastical, and I could hardly wait to tell the Fiery One the news.

I didn't have a chance to meet up with him prior to the reunion prom, but I did have time to zip around looking for a gown. The baby was being watched at the hospital as a precaution. Luckily, because I had barely shown at all during my pregnancy, I was able to fit into a stunning, sequined lavender dress. (The choice of dress should have tipped me off that I was dreaming, because I am a hater of lavender and shiny ball gown type dresses). I could barely contain myself with the news I had to share with the Fiery One when he came to pick me up in the limousine.

When the limousine pulled up, I threw open the door and nearly dove inside with the springy excitement I felt at the good news I had to give him. He was momentarily confused, but quickly recovered and was thrilled to know that he had just become a new father. We decided to rush to hospital to visit with the new baby before heading to the prom.

Our daughter had mellow, dark-brown skin and deep brown eyes. I could not decide what nationality she looked most like, as she was obviously not either of ours, but both the Fiery One and I were completely unconcerned that she looked like neither of us racially. She was very thin, but we weren't worried about that, either. At times she looked like a much older child, and at times like a newborn. For some reason, I gave her a first name that I don't particularly like in reality, Daniella, so her given name was Daniella Four.

I couldn't shake thoughts about this dream all day, because I spent the small hours of the morning waking repeatedly with worry about my daughter in the hospital and the strong need to go and see her. I tried figuring out what the dream was about for most of the day, and I managed to come up with the two most obvious ideas: I have a subconscious desire for motherhood, or I am about to go through a period of great creativity. Neither of these theories felt right, though, and images from my dream continued to ebb and flow through my mind's eye for my whole workday.

On the bus after work, I had a conversation with an acquaintance, Naya, who is an international university student from Africa. She told me that I looked tired, and so I told her about my dream and how it had kept waking me up this morning. Naya's eye grew wide, and she told me about how her nephew was terribly ill in Africa. She believed that my dream was about her nephew and told me that our dreams are not our own. Our dreams come from thoughts, feelings, and events from people we know or that we are connected to in some way. In this way, our dreams belong to the world and the communities we live in.

According to Naya, my dream daughter represented many things about her nephew's condition: her sudden birth represented his sudden illness, she had a feminized version of a masculine name to indicate the possibility of another sex, the middle name of Four meant her nephew's four days of illness, Daniella was in the hospital like her nephew was, my baby had dark skin and eyes like her nephew, and my baby would appear occasionally as a much older child around the age of her nephew. I must say that I found her argument compelling.

I was raised in a culture that turns everything in on the self. We have come to believe that everything around us is turned to the purpose of either informing one about oneself or serving one in some way. This thinking is so pervasive that, sadly, it has become a nearly innate way of psychologically constructing the world. The idea that my dreams may not completely be my own is comforting. Dreams become a connection to the world and others that I have quite aside from the surface connections of the conscious world so full of petty concerns. It means that I am not alone, because I cannot be alone. It means that each of us has access to knowledge and insight beyond ourselves.

When Naya told me about her nephew, she said that he was also like a son to her, because she helped to raise him before coming to Canada for university. Her anxiety was made obvious by the fluttering of her fingers, the wideness of her eyes, and the erratic nature of her conversation. She is normally so calm and slow of speech. For Naya's sake, I do hope that my dream was about her nephew and his illness. I hope that the name Four means that he will be well tonight.

Dreaming became another country today. Thank you, Naya.

"Dream Variation" by Langston Hughes

Read and/or watch Prime Minister Paul Martin's address on Bill C-38, The Civil Marriage Act.

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