I know it’s considered oh so gauche to talk about your dreams, but when have I ever cared about looking like a rube? As long as the bizarre machinations in my head continue to turn over, I know that I’m more Rube Goldberg where it counts.
As for the dream, my girlfriend and I had gone out to town. Through no strict landmarks, but a general sense of being, I’d known we were partying it up back home in Auckland. We were having a stellar night, hanging out with friends I hadn’t seen in years, feeling the pride of introducing my girlfriend to the group. Dancing, shooting the shit, doing shots like we used to back before we knew shots were a dumb idea. If you can imagine a distillation of every great concept that “town” represented in your early 20s, that’s the kind of night we were having. A dream is always gonna be foggy, but one tent-pole emotion was a swell of pride at seeing my girlfriend alongside close lifelong friends. Running parallel to this was a huge feeling of contentment, calm. Everything was in its right place and I was centred.
I got a text from some friends in another bar and asked my girlfriend if she wanted to tag along. She said she was happy enough where she was and didn’t want to get overwhelmed with too many new people. I kissed her goodbye and said I’d get back in touch after an hour or two. I stowed my phone in my pocket and headed on out, head and belly both full of joy. As soon as I saw these other friends, we clicked straight back into our old rapport. Once again, everything just fit. After a few more drinks and a good catch up, I texted my girlfriend and said I’d be coming on back. No reply. No worries, I understood the concept of not checking your phone every five minutes and figured she was just in conversation. I once again stowed my phone and headed back to the bar.
I walked in and looked around, but she was nowhere to be found. My friends were still there, but something seemed a little off. The mood, which was so buoyant when I left, felt dim. The large wooden tables that previously held dancing and frivolity were stacked with seated patrons, elbows on tables. Everyone seemed universally focused on the televisions around the bar. I tuned in. News channels, all of them, were fixated on some kind of planetary reformation. An overlay with another dimension was occurring and all sentient life on earth would perish. A strange sense of calm set in, knowing that my fate was sealed and set in stone. This was it, despite any kind of media scepticism I could muster, I knew it was the truth. Deeper pangs of dread weighed lead-like in my stomach. Where was my girlfriend? The world was doomed and she was nowhere to be found. I could take the cessation of existence, I could handle my demise, but the thought of waiting for the end of the world without her presence was too much to bear.
I began to frantically scamper around the bar looking for answers. Friends and other patrons had no idea. I checked in with the bar staff, but they had no recollection of her leaving. The dread intensified as I feared for the worst. With the worst timing, my bladder painfully reminded me just how much I’d had to drink. With no other recourse, I headed for the bathroom. Next to the stairs descending to the toilets I found her in a crumpled heap, a broken coffee jar to her side. I shook her and she woke, groaning and clutching her head. There was a little blood, a massive bump, but she seemed otherwise fine and coherent. A wave of relief spread over me. I knew things were falling down around us (like the coffee jar that tumbled off a shelf and bumped her on the head), but knowing that she was there with me was enough. A cluster of emotions intertwined in that moment and it was enough to shunt me out of dreams and back to reality.
Waking by her side was enough to set me on the verge of tears. I dwelled in that same dread of fearing for life without her. Knowing that I wasn’t worried about the world ending, but my world ending without her. A kind of certainty that belies the loftiness of dream logic. She’s a part of my life now and my subconsciousness knows it. Is that what love is?