Do You Remember Your Dreams?

Posted On: 05.26.16

dear mommy

Do you remember your dreams?

I do and I don’t.

Often, weeks will go by and I won’t register a single dream upon waking, but then there will be times when my dreams are vivid and wild and linger.

I had a dream last night that was so sad I woke up crying in the middle of the night. Not polite tears, but heaving sobs. This has never happened to me. I was shaken enough that I woke up Husband. He comforted me in just the way I knew he would and then I fell back asleep, but kept slipping back into the same sad story, and kept waking up. It was a rotten night of sleep and I rose for the day needing my coffee more than usual.

But interesting: today has been nothing but happy and bright. I’m wearing one of my favorite long summer dresses, the weather is warm, and this morning we saw our older daughters perform in their spring chorus concert. Very few things beat the sweet, optimistic song of children; it is, for me, a reminder of all that is pure and right in the world.

And now I am sitting in a sun-blanched coffee shop writing. This is one of my favorite things to do, to plop down among strangers, to listen to the stories around me, to furtively study people and guess at their foibles, their lives, to write words.

Life has been up and down lately. Like enormous, triumphant highs and gutting lows. Since December. It’s been a ride. And I haven’t quite been able to document the details of this ride, mostly, primarily because I want to feel it all before I try to diagram and dissect it with words. I’ve noticed myself turning inward, in this beautiful, edifying way, needing a bit less affirmation from the outside world about what I’m up to. This is good. For me, this is progress.

In law school, there was this one night I remember so well. I was out at a restaurant with three girlfriends. We drank wine and talked and talked and I remember where our conversation went… to happiness. What did it mean? What did it look like? And then we arrived at an Either-Or. Would we rather have a life of highs and lows or a life of steady middles? If I’m remembering correctly, only one of us was adamant about Option B. I argued fervently for a rich life of ups and downs; after all, don’t the lows make the highs that much sweeter?

And here I am. In an up-down phase though one that’s decidedly on the upswing, doing my very best to process, to be here now and not escape certain moments. The temptation to escape, to numb out, is so real sometimes. We’ve all felt it, haven’t we? The desire to blur the sharp edges, to feel a bit less, to indulge in distance from what is happening around us?

The other morning, I had my monthly session with my therapist and I was filling her in. I told her that I haven’t been drinking, but there have been moments when I’ve so wanted a glass! She said something interesting to me, namely that my not drinking is probably the best, most important thing I can do for myself right now. And I think I agree. But then again I also can’t tell whether I’m being smart/protective or a touch punitive/restrictive. This remains an open question. And the answer might change.

Do you remember your dreams?

I do and I don’t.

Eleven years ago, I was an associate at a big Manhattan law firm. But it was my dream to write. I indicated as much in my departure memo which was circulated when I left the firm.

I’m leaving to chase a long-held dream to write.

And, goodness, I worked hard. I wrote and wrote. I took courses on fiction and novel writing. Years passed, babies arrived. There were times of ambition and times of apathy. But then Dad got sick and it hit me: Life is short. I must do this now. And so I pulled out my manuscript and I edited it and I sent letters to strangers asking them to be my agent.

Two weeks before Dad died, he read my story. Two weeks after he died, an agent called to say she liked my story, then that she wanted to sign me. Months later, a book deal. On May 18, 2010, I published a novel. My first.

A dream. My dream. It came true.

And then it came true again, in an even bigger way. On February 9, 2016.

But if I’m being honest, sometimes I forget this, the true magic of having a big dream and then having it come true. I forget it in moments that demand me and drain me. I forget it when I am stressed and stretched. I forget it in those moments of real, unrelenting life that take us away from all that is shiny and bright.

But then I remember it! I remember it when I visit a book club full of brilliant women who have read my book and are curious about my characters. I remember it when I visit a preschool classroom and sit in a tiny chair and kids, clustered on a carpet, shoot their hands in the air and ask the best questions. I remember it when I get a thank you note in the mail from my own daughter after visiting her first grade class; when I read the note again and again and again and fill with the most impeccable joy.

And I remember it in the quieter moments, too. Like now. Here I sit alone in a coffee shop in my favorite city, tapping away, imagining a story, a story that is messy and magical and utterly mine. 

Ups and downs.

Dreams and doubts.

Happiness and hardship.

All of these things are important. Vital. Dear to me in an ineffable way. Each is part of this exquisite privilege of a thing we call Life.

Do you remember your dreams?

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2 Comments for: "Do You Remember Your Dreams?"
  1. Oh, I have missed this. Beautiful post! Enjoy the upswing!

  2. I rarely remember my dreams at night – very rarely. It is something that has always fascinated me because I have always been this way. There have been nights where I have jolted awake, but don’t remember why – not remembering my dreams. And most mornings, I wake with no remembrance at all. I would venture to say that in my entire lifetime I have only remembered a handful (at best) of dreams – and I do mean this literally. And they are always weird and very strange.

    As for dreams of my life. They are morphing and changing more than ever. I hope to do many things, but right now, I am hoping – more than anything – to find a way to do some traveling possibly, to write more and dream more in person (since I don’t have those nightly dreams to document).

    Glad to read your posts again.

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