A Recurring Dream
I’m not sure what precipitates it.
Every so often, I experience a recurring dream of my last day in school. I recall vividly the bright light of the midday sun and how odd it seems that campus is so empty. (Which makes sense, I was a summer grad, so my last actual day of class came in July.) But what really hits me is the raw emotional power and the tangibility of those images.
My feet carry me across campus, past the General Classroom Building, Speaker’s Circle, the library, and then ultimately to the art building, a place where I’d experienced a similarly pitched anxiety four years before when I first enrolled. I intuitively know I have to go in, that something or someone awaits me inside. Drawing in a deep breath, I take a final look around, smile, and enter. The finality of it is suffocating. (Thinking about this while I’m conscious makes it seem a bit Freddy Krueger, but understand it as a feeling similar to arriving home after a long day of work.)
The hallways inside are as empty as the sidewalks from which I came. I’m not frightened, but resigned, as I open the doors to the stairwell and climb up to the second floor. (During this part of the dream I sometimes take different routes throughout the building, with random artwork spontaneously manifesting on the walls. Usually it’s Magritte, Dali, Sue Coe, Cezanne, or Nan Goldin. They are my favorites, but last night, it was Simone Bianchi.)
We always kept the communal student painting studio locked, so I flip the number dials, withdraw the key and unlock my old studio. It’s empty, because I’ve taken all of my materials and paintings days before, but part of me remains there, a shadow that hasn’t yet realized the light has passed. With the easels and chairs piled against a corner, the space has more akin with a storage room than an art studio. There won’t be anyone else here for another month, so I have all the time I need, pulling a chair to the wall and leaning against it. I close my eyes and think of everything I’ve learned, and, when they open I see myself at the opposite end of the room.
A set of pale, small arms wraps around me lovingly, and I feel a small kiss on my right cheek. (Yes, said arms are in fact coming through the wall, or are intangible. I don’t really notice.) I take the small hands in mine, lift them to my lips and kiss them tenderly, relishing their touch like the familiar comfort of my pillow.
It’s in that moment that I always wake up.