Ghosts of Christmas past


I switched the light off last night and went to sleep listening to mournful, hopeful, slowly swelling music of Henryk Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony.

I slept well, better than usual lately, but like most nights recently my sleep was full of dreams. That seems a feature of the last few months. Sometimes I feel as if I have dreamt all night long. The dreams are of the usual variety, some strange and surreal, some happy, some sad, some just quirky. The dream I remember from last night was sad.

The only reason I make mention of this now is that it seems a telling dream.

It’s Christmas time, I’m an adult, but younger than I am now. As in most dreams, the scene and perspective switches rapidly and there appears little in the form of a linear narrative. The moments I remember, however, are revealing.

There’s a sombre mood throughout. It’s Christmas day, but I’m heading off somewhere. At one stage someone says Merry Christmas to me, but there’s no-one there – I’m all alone. In the next scene, I look out the window and my step-father is there, smiling at me. He’s been dead for a dozen years, but he pops up here and there in the dream, like a Christmas ghost.

A moment later I’m speaking aloud as if there was someone there to hear me, as if it has dawned on me: “I need help.”

I’m meant to be travelling, but before I do I drop by my mother’s house – she’s still alive in my dream. And my stepfather is there again, alive and sitting in a lounge chair. I go to speak to my mum, who seems surprised, and perhaps a tad irritated, to see me. Her hair has a purple tint to it. She stops to check why I haven’t left yet, busy otherwise with Christmas day festivities.

Her Christmas guests I know well enough in the dream to nod at (I don’t recognise them from my conscious life). They’re not family and I have no connection with them, but my mother is hosting on Christmas day, rather than me, her son. In the dream, I’m saddened by it. Eventually, I leave.

That’s the dream.

Wait your turn


I had a dream last night where I was on my way to work and stopped into a café advertising fresh-made crumpets (I grab a home-made crumpet every Friday currently). I’m about to be served when a young couple who have come in after me start asking questions of the dude behind the counter. They go on a bit ditzy like while I grow impatient. I’m well brought up and don’t say anything, but try to give them the hint that they can wait until it’s their turn.

Then, out of the blue, the woman looks at me and says something along the lines “obviously, you’ve got a problem with us. Why can’t you wait?”

I don’t say anything for a moment or two but just look at them wondering if I want to engage in a debate with them. I don’t. I let rip with a well-timed “get fucked”. They seemed spooked by my response and even I’m a tad surprised at how brutal it sounds. In a way, though that was what I was after, crank it up an abrupt notch and kill any debate on the subject.

It works. I order my crumpet while they quietly slip away with their tails between their legs.

That’s the first version of the dream, but right after there comes the second.

This time, all the same stuff happens the same right up to my reaction. In this version, I take my time considering my response. “Okay Einstein,” I say finally, “you seem to know all about me and my problems. Not that it’s any of your business, but my dog died yesterday, and I’m fucking sad about it, so spare me your prognostications and presumptions, and fuck off.”

None of it is true of course, and though maybe I’m trying to guilt them a little what’s really riling me up is the entitled presumption that they can push in, that they know what’s going through my mind, and then they presume to lecture me about it.

In a way, I’m over it. I’ve reached my limit. My patience with self-absorbed poseurs has reached its limit, and this is the result.

I’m surprised by what this says about me. I can be a pretty blunt character, but it’s rare I get into confrontational situations like that, though I’ll hold my ground. Generally, I’m a genial, reasonable character – I defer to others out of good manners and am tolerant enough to give some leeway when some overstep.

I may be reading too much into it. Either scenario is possible in extreme circumstances, but the fact that I’m dreaming this makes me wonder if I’m holding unresolved anger inside?

Would that surprise me? Not one bit.

Bare bums and golf balls


Listening to someone tell you about their dreams is a bit like being stuck with someone who has a stamp collection they can’t help sharing with you, or a proud parent describing their child’s school sporting carnival. Or maybe being stuck someone bent on describing every aspect of the Marvel universe to you. Eye-rolling tedium. That’s your warning: I’m about to describe a dream I had last night. Look away now.

Let me get the sequence right. It started, I think, with me visiting my friend Donna. For some reason or another, I was staying there on her spare bed. She had a visitor, a plump blonde woman who totally ignored me.

Scene switches. Now it’s just the blonde woman and me. She’s talking to me over her shoulder as she goes from room to room. I’m following, and as she goes through a door, I reach out and pull her skirt from her hips. Revealed is a pale, well-rounded arse waggling slightly as she walks. She keeps talking.

In the next scene, I’m in bed. I feel like I’m at Donna’s and she’s out for the night. Then someone returns, and it’s not Donna but a woman who strongly resembles Emma Stone.

She’s fun and alluring. Vibrant. She snuggles up beside me outside the covers and murmurs to me, a laugh in her voice. It feels like something more than platonic, but not as if we’re together either. Maybe that’s what’s coming.

We get to talk about some of my recent experiences. I tell her I’m either with women I’m drawn to but am uninterested in, or women I find interesting but am not drawn to. All I’m after is the combination, but lying there with the woman I feel warm and wonder if I’ve found her after all.

Then the final scene comes, and I’m in this happy state, but I discover a lump the size of a golf ball in my right groin. I don’t have much time to think of it, but it’s so vivid that when I wake I check my groin, there’s no lump there.

Father’s day


Maybe because it’s Father’s Day today I dreamt of dad last night. In the dream, I saw myself as he did: ever so reliable and intelligent, but prickly to boot.

I don’t know how true that is, but I’m sure it’s a true impression for some of me. If I am ever prickly then – I say – it’s in defence of my independence, or to assert a right. Or maybe to refute a nonsense I won’t abide.

As for dad, if he ever thought that, then the first part he took for granted while exaggerating the second.

Needless to say, I’m doing nothing for father’s day. I’m having lunch with him this week, I think. I think he’s mellowing.

Hmmm…


The dream I had last night was both interesting and disturbing, and also hard to explain. It was a world in which there were different versions of ourselves – or rather, different versions of ourselves residing in different worlds. The worlds were similar, but none were the same, with small but significant differences between them.

As me, I was aware both of the diversity of worlds, and also a hierarchy of sorts. Each of the worlds and each of the different personas were subsets of the one true original – like copies made slightly different. The ‘I’ in the dream was living in one of the subsets, and I knew it. It didn’t feel entirely natural to me. I would be surprised, and sometimes disturbed, by how things weren’t as I expected. It wasn’t altogether comfortable, as if I was a stranger in a strange land.

What I knew is that I had to get back to the source world. That was a common aspiration, but it was different for me. I felt as if I was living a life not meant for me, and knew that the highest goal in life was to be the original, not an inferior copy. And so I wriggled like a worm on a hook wanting to get back to where I thought I belonged, my true self in that true world, but not knowing how to get there.

Make of that what you will.

Family split


These days I dream every night and mostly in vivid detail, more than at any other stage of my life. I’ve given up thinking anything much of it. Occasionally I might dwell briefly on a dream, surprised more about the unexpected faces featuring in it than any deeper meaning. But then, as dreams go, they’re gone.

Last night though I dreamt of my step-sister and I woke up this morning feeling sad.

I was very close to my step-sister. When my mum married a second time we became an extended family. She was about 17 then and crushed on me for a while, which is probably not unusual in the circumstances. She wanted nothing more than to be part of a family again and she loved my mum, and as part of the package she gained a cool older brother.

As it turned out we hit it off naturally anyway. She was an attractive, intelligent, bubbly personality. Everyone loved her because she was so easy and natural with them. I don’t think she ever stopped crushing on me completely, but in return I grew very fond of her. (Even after she married I often felt as if she felt more in tune with me than with her husband). The truth of it is that in the extended family we were the two closest siblings, even though our relationship was purely by marriage. Certainly I was much closer to her in nature, in attitude, in personality, than I was with my own natural born sister. For many years we shared good times.

That all changed in the aftermath of mum’s death. The family split in two along bloodlines and her side of the family chose to challenge mum’s will. From principle as much as anything else, we resisted. The fall-out was that our relationship ended, even after a settlement had been reached.

I was sad at that but at the same time the dispute had soured me of families for a while. I accepted our break as a consequence of that.

In the years since we’ve had no direct contact. She made a late night call to me a few years ago that I didn’t notice till the day after. Last year I was surprised to find her following me on Facebook, and eventually I sent her a message hoping to repair the relationship. She never responded.

Catching up with my cousins lately I got some news of her. They’re still friends with her on Facebook and until recently, my Aunt told me, she had been sending birthday cards up. I knew she had split from her husband a few years back. They told me she had taken up with an older man in Queensland, where she lives. They told me she’d just returned from a visit to Melbourne.

I thought about her on the drive back from lunch. A lot of that time feels wrong and nothing will change that because a lot of that time was wrong. Looking back it was an ugly and terribly difficult time of my life. Not only had my mum just died and a conflict erupted over her will, but I was also broke and unemployed and almost certainly suffering from depression. I was a mess.

I understood the rupture between us at that time, but always felt as if I had more reason to be aggrieved than her. I would have accepted whatever was in mum’s will and all I was doing was defending her final wishes. It was my step-sister and her family who were challenging it.

We lost contact and she deleted me as a friend on Facebook. I understood that, but she also unfriended Donna, who had nothing to do with this. They were friendly and got on well, though Donna first and foremost was my friend. Once more, I can only presume it was that relationship that my step-sister could no longer abide. She became collateral damage and I never really understood why.

So now I’m dreaming about her and what I feel is affection and sorrow. We had a deep connection. I loved her, and she me. After losing my mother that was he next biggest loss I suffered, and they came as a double whammy. Clearly I’ve never got over that loss completely.

I’m tempted to let it go and accept it as one of the unfortunate mischances that occur in life. Sad, but there it is.

It’s an interesting case for me. I’ve never really been someone who’ll let fate dictate my life. That’s just not my nature. Common sense tells me to let it go, but I wonder how that will leave me feeling. No matter everything that’s happened to me I’ve never lost my sense of hope. Part of that is the belief that it’s better to do something than nothing. You have to try. It seems to me that if I let it slide then it’s an acceptance that there are no happy endings. As they say though, for all my grumpiness, I always vote life.

The people you dream of


I had an interesting dream last night. In it were a couple of my friends from primary school, Lindsay and Lincoln.

L1 was always a lovely kid. He was sweet natured and generous. He was a good looking kid with a mop of Beatle-esque hair and a strong physical presence. I remember him as a gentle but robust soul who would do anything to help you out.

L2 was good looking too, blonde instead of brown-haired, but he was crazy as well. He was one of those willful, hard to control kids who marched to beat of his own private drum. I remember him once swallowing a goldfish, and another time a girl called Merryn complaining because he’d flopped out his old fella sitting there looking at her in class.

So in the dream – which is vague – we’re all somewhere down by the seaside when we’re dared to do something we’re not supposed to. There’s a bunch of us, not just L1 and L2, but other kids too and we’re all about 8-9. I seem to be taking the lead and the mission we’re on feels like an adventure, like something we’re supposed to do even if it’s not allowed, as if we need to do this as an expression of the individuals we’re becoming, like one of those things you do in all defiance of instruction because it feels the right thing to do.

So we progress. We travel along the coastline, which is beautiful, to a point where we’ve been expressly forbidden, though we’re still short of our destination. One of the boys is quivering. “My daddy told me not to come here,” he says. But then there’s a beckoning voice, a woman’s voice, alluring at any age, but particularly to an adventurous eight year old determined to prove himself. She’s teasing, recognising our doubts and our fears, and gently playing on them like a siren, “don’t you want too…”, daring us to overcome our reservations. And, at my insistence, we do.

That’s pretty much the dream, but throughout it felt a positive dream, like a movie in a way, like something we’re supposed to do that will make a big difference to the people we become. This is our coming of age moment, and I sense it. And for some reason, out of all the people I went to school with, L1 and L2 are there with me.

Out of curiosity I googled them this morning. I haven’t seen L1 since I was about 20. He was still a lovely kid then, still good looking, though he’d levelled out at about 5’8”, but built square with huge shoulders. I wasn’t sure searching for him, but I found someone with the same name who looks little like the L1 I knew but is in the same area we grew up in. This one is a priest too, or a minister, and though that may seem unusual I remember had become spiritual and was heavily involved in the church. He’d been nothing like that at 10. On the balance of probability, I think it’s probably him – there’s only a head-shot to go by, and the pic I saw was of an ascetic-looking man with close shaved hair. And – looking at the pic again – I realise he’s the spitting image of his dad.

I haven’t seen L2 since we were about 12. Not surprisingly he left school under a shadow. A lot can happen in that time. He was taller than most then, but there’s a lot of growing for all of us after that age, and it’s different for everyone. This L2 I found is a notable architect these days and is about the right age – and the only person I found with his name in Melbourne. He looks roughly like the L2 I knew, older, more lived in. I always figured that part of his problem was he was smarter – more aware – than most, and it’s no surprise if he has in fact made something decent of his life.

I hope so for both of them. Strange to remember them now. Sort of nice though, too.