After months of debating with myself about the opportunities it afforded me, I finally left my job in New York because, like Martin Luther King, Jr., I had a dream. Unlike King’s, my dream was not nation-shaping. Instead, it involved… a sweater.
Briefly, I dreamed about two people I was deeply involved with in Manhattan, setting out with me in a small boat onto a river. The river began to flood, gaining speed. Other boats capsized, and as our boat rocked violently on the waves, one of our party fell overboard. The third, someone I had experienced conflicted, painful longing for over the past several months, only remained in the boat because I pulled him back in.
We made our way to shore along with other survivors. Dazed, we walked hand in hand, and I savored our closeness. I realized with resignation that the minute he remembered his wife and children, however, he would not only panic and rush to check their welfare, he would forget about me. It would be easiest, I felt, if I just reminded him now. Not wanting him to suffer a painful awakening in front of strangers, I led him to a private place. As we walked, he slowly evaporated, until all that remained was his sweater in my hand.
I held this sweater, knowing that without his family, this man was nothing. I thought, I’d give up seeing him except for once a year, if it meant he could be with them, and whole again.
Then I thought, No, I would give up seeing him altogether.
I left the sweater, carefully folded, where I had stood, and walked back upstairs, through the kitchen, to sit outside. The dream that had been fairly general in its settings became crystalline and specific, as I looked at the old converted stone farmhouse I had just left, and the similar building next to it where Mr. Sweater’s family lived. Sitting on a tree stump, surrounded by trees, a windmill slowly cycling next to the house, I thought, this is such a beautiful place. I hope I appreciated it. I decided I had, but that my emotional home here was very small, and it was time to move on.
Yes, I am the sort of person who bases major life decisions on dreams. While I had spent the past several months debating the move on both instinctive and logical levels, the dream finally armed me to say goodbye. The flooding river, the satisfaction of holding Mr. Sweater’s hand, and feeling my leaving could benefit him, gave what had seemed an impossibly painful decision some small meaning, even if only to me, and even if only imaginary. So I left.
Because the people and emotions were so clearly tied to my life on the East Coast, I assumed that the clearly-outlined but non-Manhattan stone buildings were simply metaphorical. They didn’t look like skyscrapers, but they evoked the same love and represented the same confined home I had experienced there for two years.
I was surprised when I recently discovered those buildings had real-life counterparts. The interior of the first house, where Mr. Sweater and I had held hands and conferred with fellow survivors, was the inside of the house where I now live. Perhaps even more strange, the exterior was the Tourist Information Centre in Totnes, across the street from my bus stop. A centuries-old farmhouse converted into workspace, the building has the same uneven stone construction, the same windows and roof, the same windmill. It is the building in my dream.
I arrived in Totnes this afternoon after spending a lovely weekend with Mr. Hotness, and sat at that bus stop, gazing across the street at that building, for the better part of an hour. The bus never came. I finally had to call my boss and ask if she or someone else in the house could make the twenty minute drive to pick me up. But I sat there for much longer than I needed to, after it was clear the last bus would never come, unwilling to call her.
I wanted to run my eyes over the surface of this building, with its windmill and thick layered brown paint on the paned windows. That I’d dream about a house I’d never seen before, only to find it months and thousands of miles later, gives one pause. It isn’t the first time I’ve had prescient elements in dreams, but usually these tidbits are too cryptic to take to the races. In this case, the precision and import given to the buildings makes me wonder if there was more to the dream than an inner push to leave an unhealthy situation. Is it possible it also had a message about where I’d find myself six months later? Is it possible this is a small home?
I’m happy to say I don’t long for Mr. Sweater anymore. The months since, and their fulsome experience, has wiped the obsession away. But as I sit on the tree stump, gazing at that converted stone farmhouse, I have to wonder.
I wonder, waiting for my boss’s father to pick me up because he’s the only person I know here who can bring me home, if this is indeed a small home. I wonder if that knowledge is something I want to act on, or simply… know. No one asked me to stay here more than a year, and two months of those twelve have already passed. Meanwhile, after a sunny and sexy weekend, I came home to find the kids wet-haired and fresh-faced in their pajamas, deconstructing the living room to play pirates. I wonder about prescient dreams, and I wonder about my future, but I also wonder, How could this get any better?