I’ve only recently realised that I cannot have escapist fantasies any more, whether whilst day dreaming or fast asleep. If they can’t happen to the real me, I can’t dream them.
I remember the dreams I used to have. Sometimes I would continue on from a film seen in the evening where I would replace a character and carry on living her life. I remember being a successful singer on stage, being with friends at awards ceremonies and having fun.
Going back further I remember flying over rooftops and revelling in the sheer pleasure of watching a landscape unfold under me.
I remember adventures, and being a teenager and simply being able to walk onto my dream set and simply command everyone’s attention. I used to sing duets and dream I was going out with / having a relationship with / married to the occasional singer of the day until I found out that they were happily partnered at which point I’d move on.
There were also the dreams where I triumphed over personal adversity but learned from it, forged a charity to support other people with similar experiences and built personal and professional success on it. This was a multi part dream over years. Such was the embarrassment I felt over this particular personal adversity, that I never felt able to mention it to anyone, even in passing and this is the first time its existence has exited my head.
I used to dream of my own home. There was a flat, with a baby grand in the hall, that was small but perfectly formed for one person. I haven’t thought about it for years but I can picture the layout perfectly even now. I then moved from there to a house that was somewhere in North London, a bit more complicated with an observatory cum library in the roof – I could lie on a couch and read a book or gaze upward at the stars seen through the glass domed roof. These places are real to me; I can feel them, touch them and map them and yet I have suppressed them for many years. I had a whole alternate reality in my dreams. There was a guy in the pub below the flat, a father figure perhaps, but he was my friend and I would go help out behind the bar when needed. He had a son with a medical illness and I helped him raise the funds to take him to America for whatever life saving operation it was. The pub had nooks and crannies in it and a wooden back room where one could dine privately with an illustrious visitor.
I remember all this as if I’d just woken up from dreaming about it. But I had forgotten most of this when I started writing this post. It has come back to me and I’ve realised how strongly I believed, how much I looked forward going to sleep so I could dream these dreams, all of which excluded parents. They died tragically when I was young you see, leaving me some funds to start me off in life. These dreams were all woven together into one consistent whole and formed a foundation for my imagination to build on, an imagination that felt stunted and stilted at home, where creativity was not really valued as serving no logical purpose.
Now, I cannot slip into a dream of my choice. If I remember a dream, it tends to be a nightmare, full of running away down endless hallways and stairs, with or without children, trying to escape from something undefined that is chasing me. There are rare times when I have nice dreams and I wake up feeling pleasantly surprised, wondering what happened and how to make it happen again. I’ve tried recreating some of my youthful dreams and the settings, but part of me is thinking “well that wouldn’t happen really now, would it, and certainly not to me” and I can’t dream it.
And what I find really appalling, considering how much I used to enjoy these dreams is that I’d forgotten about them so much, that I hadn’t even noticed I’d lost them.
And I stopped singing somewhere along the way too.