Of course, the "random stranger as best friend" makes up only one genre of my dreams. Often, I will dream about people who have made a more everlasting impact on my life, but of whom the thought of thinking subconsciously in my sleep is still a bit unsettling - people like my students. As a high-school English teacher, and a young, female one at that, I might be treading into some uneasy territory by admitting that yes, I have had dreams of my students in the past. Yes, even the male ones. Typically, we're doing the most innocuous things like partaking in a nature hike or moshing at an Anthrax concert, but still, they're there. Oddly enough (as if any part of this was normal), it's usually the quiet ones who sit in the middle of the classroom and are the first out the door everyday, not the kids I get to know on a more personal, friendly level. Again, why? And why do these people make their way into the stories of my nightly slumber in such radically out of context ways? The random blip from high school is my best friend in the coffee shop, and the sullen student in row three is classifying plant-life while I take notes. What is my subconscious trying to tell me?
Now, I'm not one to get all diagnostic on dreams, not for a lack of faith in those diagnoses, but simply because I wouldn't have any idea where to start. I mean, I can handle the cliched "being naked onstage means you're feeling vulnerable," thing, but my dreams are never that 1. simple or 2. short. In any given, uninterrupted dream, I may partake in 20 or so different experiences with 15-40 people in 5-10 different locations. I'm not joking. How do I ever sit down and begin to configure what my subconscious is trying to tell me when we're dealing with feature film-length montages?
Maybe I can't crack the code completely, but that doesn't keep me from trying to break it down, piece by piece. One thing that I do presume is that the out of place presence of random faces from my past may signify a subconscious desire to reconnect with my roots. This makes perfect, logical sense as someone who underwent two major moves in my lifetime, both of which left many questions about what relationships may have flourished had I stayed and the repercussions since I didn't. Both of my moves happened somewhat suddenly, so I cut off a lot of things prematurely - friendships, jobs, routines, etc. Perhaps the frayed ends of those things are grasping back at me years later. Perhaps that random blip was destined to really be my best friend in the coffee shop one day, in conscious time. Maybe we would have even gone grocery shopping, and he would have chuckled at my felinish discrimination of tuna types and brands - did I mention I'm a BumbleBee girl?
As for "sullen in row three," I've supposed that my subconscious is telling me I didn't reach out enough to him, that my attempts to draw him out of his shell and forge a connection were too feeble. My subconscious could be picking up on facets of him that my conscious misses. As I'm shuffling through late passes, sorting handouts, and answering the same question for the umpteenth time for the worrisome front-rower before the bell rings, he could be doodling the Anthrax band logo in his binder margins, or perusing a botany magazine. Maybe the in-the-moment side of me doesn't notice, but the subconscious does, grasping that important tidbit and filing it away, only to unveil it again while I snooze, when I have the time, in some way, to pay attention.
I'm not sure what it is my dreams are trying to tell me, but I believe in earnest that it's something. Experiences this strange that have me so rapt in my waking hours can't be without significance. Of course, maybe I'm just crazy, but I'm nowhere near prepared to open that can of tuna fish.