Over pancakes this morning, my 5-year-old daughter spent 15 minutes describing last night’s dream to me in detail. “There was a fire in the building and I told everyone we had to evacuate, but before we did, I reminded them to grab their phones and laptops! Don’t worry, the cats were already rescued. We went outside with all our things and by the time we came back, the building was an enormous pile of black dust and there were hundreds of firemen with huge vacuum cleaner thingy to suck up all the piles of ash. Then it seemed I woke up in my dream to find we were back in our apartment all fixed up as if we never left.”
My husband, delighted by this story, lit up with pride as he recognized a clone of his brain in her head. “Oh I love when I get the dream-within-a-dream,” he says. “It’s like two for the price of one.”
I’m in the dark in terms of dreaming; the only dreams I remember are ones where family members die or my husband cheats on me. I wake up hysterically crying or frustrated I couldn’t scream. Or else in the case of the cheating dream, I remain angry at my husband for the rest of the day. Those dreams feel so real. I also have the nightmare where all my teeth fall out and I’m desperately trying to keep them all in my mouth or I’m on a plane and know it’s crashing and I’m suddenly zen, coaching myself to breathe through it. I don’t go on adventures escapades through a fantasy world as a superhero; I don’t even meet my dead grandfather. Maybe I’m too much of a control freak; part of the Dream Police.
The only time I had vivid and entertaining dreams was when I was pregnant with my daughter. Somehow during those 9 months, my husband’s dream gene permeated from my uterus to my brain and miraculously let me peek into their mysterious dream world.
My husband could be a dreamer by profession. His dreams and reality meld because he’s an artist. He doesn’t allow ridiculous constraints of reality to smother his imagination. He told me of a period of time in his life where he spent 12 hours a day dreaming deliberately so he can wake up to paint his dreams. He controls his dreams through lucid dreaming. He’s tried to teach me techniques to learn how to do it. “Focus on trying to see the time on a clock in your dreams,” he says. A clock? I can’t remember a room, let alone a clock. This lucid dreaming feels as hocus pocus as hypnosis, but maybe my frigidity is a clue
I’m convinced dreaming is genetic, like being able to roll your tongue or raise one eyebrow and I simply lack the crucial chromosome. He says I can learn; just start focusing on them when I wake up and start a dream journal. Soon I will remember with ease, he assures. It’s not that I doubt he’s right, instead, I’m learning to dream in real life.