A few nights ago, I had a dream. This is not odd for me. To the contrary, you could say I am a hyperactive dreamer because I usually have multiple dreams per night and I usually remember bits and pieces of all of them in the morning, bits and pieces that invariably scatter as the day goes on. And when it is time for me to go to sleep again and dream some more, there is very little left. Over the years, I have had dreams about Rice Krispie dogs and failed exams and Moby Dick. In my sleep, I have written chapters of my book, designed sandals, given birth and gotten married countless times. In my dreams, I have met Brad and Angelina (again, a sad sign of former obsession and in case you were wondering Angelina was not nice to me.) My point here is that my brain doesn't go to sleep when I do. No, it cooks up cinematic scenarios mundane and bizarre. And very often I wake up amused or bewildered or inexplicably angry.
So why an entire blog post about one of my dreams? Because this one was relatively simple and striking. As is usually the case, I don't remember everything that happened, but this is what I do remember:
A friend of mine and I were running through darkened streets. It seems that someone or something was chasing us. There were sirens and screams. At one point, we stopped. My friend grabbed me by the shoulders and asked me, her words cryptically sparse, "Aidan, job or babies?" This was the first time I looked at her face, but it was frustratingly blurry and her hair kept shifting between light and dark. I think I must have said something like "Both. Pick both." (Or, this is what I hope I said.) And as I said whatever it was I said, I looked past this mystery friend and there in the blackness was a huge digital clock - like one of the clocks on the show 24 - and those numbers were ticking down ominously. Friend said to me, shaking me some more, "I need to decide. Now. Or else." That clock kept marching towards zero and I blurted out, "Babies. Have babies. You will figure the other stuff out after."
That's all I remember. I wish I could tell you what happened next, but I don't know. I wish I could tell you who the friend was, but I don't know. What I do know is that this dream has haunted me for a few days now. Why the high-octane chase and drama around the question of kids vs. career? And is this really about kids vs. career or about something bigger? What struck me was that something bad was going to happen - not if my friend picked wrong, but if she didn't decide. It wasn't the bad guys who were going to do her in. It was indecision. (Maybe indecision is a bad guy after all?)
I'm hardly qualified to dissect dreams, but I don't think this reverie was a simple commentary on indecision. No. This is likely too literal an interpretation, but maybe it was about the important decision we women (and some men, yes) must make. It was about that proverbial fork in the road we all reach at some point where we must decide. Family Path? Or Professional Path? Because in this simplified scenario, there is no Both Path. (Dad used to say "When you reach a fork in the road, take it." Genius.)
But, thankfully, in real life, there is a Both Path. Or is there? I think there is. I hope there is. I think I am on it with many of you. Treading gingerly, taking in the scenery as I go. But sometimes I fear that I am fooling myself. Maybe I am still stuck at that fork, standing still, frozen with indecision. And maybe that clock is ticking - because it always is - and I have a decision to make once and for all. Maybe reality is more like my dream than I first thought?
Something simple continues to plague me: who is that friend who seeks my emergency counsel? Is she someone I know or a mixture of many someones? Is she me? Is she all of us?