In Your Dreams, Edward

I’ll turn that tired old freshman English story on it’s head—the one that ends “It was all a dream.” I’ll begin with it. It was a dream and, for some reason, it seems to want sharing.
I was in an educational institution of some kind; nothing outrageous or
even odd about that. My dreams frequently have to do with my being in some
sort of educational institution. The recurrence of the theme no doubt has to do with the fact that, with the exception of statistics, required for graduate school, I never found my pursuit of degrees (which is different from pursuit of an education) to be difficult; of course, none of it was brain surgery but, still, most people found The Canterbury Tales, Hamlet, Kant and Barth at least a bit dodgy. I really never did.
So there I was, in a school of some kind, and having a hard time of it. It
was a posh place. Blazers de rigueur. An Oxbridge sort of place and, clearly, I was not being tolerated (everybody knows you are a fake and don’t belong—why should you be tolerated)? Just as well I was not wanted there, since the site and situation morphed from school to a resort—more a retreat, really. This can be accounted for. I’ve been reading Bailey’s biography of John Cheever and have been into the early chapters relating his love/hate relationship with Yaddo, the Hudson Valley retreat for budding or wilting artists.
In this place, it turned out, far from being the shunned undeserving student, I was the leader of a sizeable number of the residents or inmates. I never saw any of my “men” but I have the strong sense that they were a scruffy lot. The sort that storm Bastilles and the like. I obviously had been successful in fomenting a rebellion which was imminent. An armed rebellion, no less. A violent rebellion. I had stepped out of the Oxbridge setting into a moment of truth. All was in readiness. The various stations reported to me that they were ready to attack. My second in command shouted up the stairs to my garret room, a room messed with rank clothing, books and manuscripts (manifestos, no doubt) that it was time.
At this point, I had second thoughts. The whole idea of rebellion was simply outrageous. Foolhardy. There was simply no way that I or my band of brothers were going to succeed against Them. Against whom? I have no idea. Just “Them.” Don’t we all have a “Them” against whom we would, if we had the courage, take arms and oppose? Does it matter who “They” are? Still, it was time. There was no going back. With grubby but loyal followers ready to charge screaming onto the field there’s no saying “You know what, chaps? This is not going to work out as I’d thought. Maybe some other time.”
I was, of course, terrified. Like a captain at Gallipoli, I knew I was going out to my death and taking all that lot with me. I put a mucky highwayman sort of overcoat over my pajama top (uh, yeah, just the top but let’s no go into that), strapped on a sword or a gunbelt and floated down the stairs and out to a courtyard—where “They” calmly awaited. “They” had called out the guards. Summoned the gendarmerie. Called the cops. My so-called followers were nowhere to be dreamed. They had immediately surrendered or had never gone out in the first place. Filthy cowards. Come to think of it, I didn’t see “Them” or their minions either. But I knew they were there. There was that powerful sense of “presence” that one can have without needing a whole lot of extras.
Needless to say, I was arrested. It could have been worse, I suppose. I could have been shot on sight or dispatched by whatever means the time and place dictated. I was to be taken away (which, I knew full well, did not necessarily mean I was not eventually going to be made redundant). One might think I would have been tossed into the back of a straw-covered wagon and trundled off to a dungeon somewhere. But, I was placed in the passenger seat of a small antique ambulance. White with red crosses. Looking out at the hood, I determined that it was a Pontiac (I once had a Pontiac LeMans and therefore recognized the parabolic raised artifice on the hood).
In climbed the driver. Not at all a jackbooted minion but a pleasant and gentle older man I recognized as “Ralph somebody.” It was actually his antique little ambulance and, judging by his flecking off some dust from the dashboard, he was proud of it, justifiably so. It was in mint condition. He informed me that he was to escort me to a place where I would spend the night before being taken off to whatever fate awaited me. He knew nothing about that. I think he did this sort of escorting on a car-for-hire basis. Not related to “them.” A sort of temp.
At this point, as we began to drive away, rain was bucketing. Absolute deluge. As we passed by a porch, one of my two miniature poodles, sopping wet, was attempting to get off the porch, straining at a leash to go with me. Odd, particularly because there are in fact two of them and they are never apart. I begged “Ralph somebody” to let me get my dog but he would have none of it. In fact, the kindly old man suddenly turned on me in anger shouting “This is not a joyride you know. This is serious. You are in big trouble.” I sobbed as we left the bedraggled and broken-hearted poodle behind. I was also upset by “Ralph’s” anger because I hadn’t thought he cared a wit about why he was escorting me anymore than a cab driver would care why one was going to 74 Main Street. So, up to that point, I’d entertained the possibility that he might let me slip away. Now it was clear that he was going to fulfill his mission.
I do understand about the wet dog. I do have two seven year old miniature poodles I dearly love. They are brothers. Two of quadruplets in fact. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and both have been bedraggled for a couple of weeks. They are “joined at the hip” as “they” say. I worry continuously that something will happen to one, devastating the other, and me. Given my age, I also worry about what will happen to them when I am “taken away.” I worry about a lot of things.
We arrive at our destination. By this time, it has come to me (as if in a dream) that my escort is not “Ralph somebody” but Ken. Ken Wells. Ken was chair of the search committee of the congregation for which I was once a candidate many years ago. It was he who picked me up at the airport and took me to the church. So long ago. And Ken is long gone. Perhaps this is his role in paradise, going from there to hell and back to transport failed rebels. The destination—where I am to be housed for the night before God-knows-what—is apparently a boarding house. Big house. Ken says, “Give this paper to the landlord. He’ll take it from here.” His attitude is clearly, “Now get the hell out of the car.”
I’m out of the miniature Pontiac ambulance. It’s gone. Ken is gone. Just gone as characters come and go in dreamland. Now I’m inside the boarding house. Dream life is a bit like the movies. Scenes change and characters are just moved from one place to another. We should watch them walk down the street? Or sit quietly in the back seat while they drive to Los Angeles? for economy’s sake a lot is assumed in dreams as in movies.
There is no one around the large house which has been constructed clumsily, addition by mis-matched addition. I wander from floor to floor, room to room. Plenty of empty rooms. But I haven’t found the landlord and I think it probably is not a good idea to just settle into one. I might have to be handcuffed to the bedframe or something. I have enough problems as it is.
I should say at this point that dreaming of houses, hotels, lots of empty rooms, is a common dream theme. My understanding is that the house represents ourselves, the rooms the various aspects of ourselves that need looking into, that are extremely precarious and that are, in waking life, simply inaccessible. I once dreamt that my dead father was showing me how easily it would be to burn my “house” down as he had burned down his (hint: metaphors).
I turn a corner, down a few steps off a hallway, and there is the landlord. Nothing special about him. Clearly a bit player. I hand him the paper “Ken” gave me. Seems routine. It should indicate my room number but—uh oh. Wait Hold on. There is a symbol on the paper. He says, “Ah. You’ll have to come with me.” No cozy B&B room overlooking the bay for me.
Through the door and boots me into absolutely nothing.
Well, yes. It was all a dream but I said that to start out with. That’s not the point. The point is what’s it all about? What’s all that about a failed rebellion, that futile leaping into the breach?
Ken was a really nice guy. Just doing his job, rather like the boatman on the Styx. Did he know the landlord was going to fling me into the abyss? And why a nice little white ambulance taking me to my fate, rather than the back of truck or manure wagon? Ah. I’ve had a couple of those white ambulance trips. Still awaiting another are we?

Edward Frost