Monday, June 24, 2013

Classroom Dream

I dreamed that I was in a classroom with many students sitting on those old-fashioned wood and metal contraptions they used to use back in the day, with a hard wood writing surface and chair with steel legs and a steel compartment under the chair bottom to put books and papers inside. Those things could be broken, as some boys discovered after trying the better part of a school-year or multiple school-years, but not easily, and they could be repaired, too.

I was young again, I don't know how young, but at the age when sitting in such an old-fashioned desk would have been right, and reunited with my best friend at the time. We were aware of the passage of the time, so this was not a flashback to the past, but a reunion in Heaven. We realized we hadn't seen each other for--what is it now, twenty years? More, I think. Thirty? Of course we remembered the reasons for going our separate ways. Yet for whatever reason, we were back in the place where we first met all those years ago, doing mindless busy work we used to do in school. The teacher, who had no face, no name, and not a very memorable voice either, had assigned a score of questions to be answered by reading a chapter in our textbook. I don't know what the textbook was about. Something incorrect or inaccurate, no doubt, and not written very well, like most textbooks in school.

I was euphoric at being reunited with my old friend. The magnetism was strong, like magic, and I was curious. I had many questions, but these were left unasked. He was friendly and seemed to understand everything. He was serious about schoolwork as he always was and working on the assigned questions, which he finished before anyone else. I took his notebook--I had that privilege with him that I didn't need to ask--and began copying his answers into my notebook to save myself the effort, smiling all the while.

A few moments later, at the far left of the classroom, another student raised her voice and denounced the fellow sitting in front of her, who had copied her questions just as I had copied my friend's. The teacher reiterated that she expected us to do our own work. I looked at my friend's face and he had one of those expressions I was so familiar with, that look of rebuke. Blushing, I returned his notebook and began working on the questions myself.

Upon waking, the dream seemed less charming. Perhaps it is seldom that young friends part on amicable terms. He was the more popular one, the one that knew how to manipulate others. I was not adept at reading social signals, which is so important in our world. When he decided I was no longer useful and could be replaced by someone else, he played pranks on me that he found amusing, fooling me again and again. Back then, I was what you call stupid. Book-smart but not street-smart, which is often fatal. He was cold and adept at making cold decisions. I don't envy whoever he is with now, if anyone at all. If I had had a choice, I wouldn't have dreamed of him, either. He is not the sort of thing I like to dream about.

I think the dream was just an echo of the past. Memory is a funny thing. Facts are stored in memory, of course, but also feelings without regard to the alterations wrought by time. I used to feel a certain way about him, and that feeling is recorded somewhere, just like a fact would be, even though my current feelings are different. The unconscious mind revisited an old memory covered in dust somewhere in the attic. I wonder what the trigger was? Perhaps last night's watching of the first episode of season six of Mad Men. The accuracy of that retro 1960s show amazes me. Upon reflection, I think the antique fashion and style of that show certainly triggered a memory from my distant past, a past I'd perhaps be better off forgetting.

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