Saturday, June 06, 2009

Stuck In-between?

Am I the emotional victim of the American Dream? Last night I had two different dreams where I ended up crying hysterically. (In my dream, not in real life.) In my first dream I came upon my youngest son, Shane along the side of the road, he had a suitcase packed with various things including two of the same book: Professor Wormbog and the Search for the Ziparumpazoo. (http://www.amazon.com/Professor-Wormbog-Search-Zipperump-Zoo/dp/157768687X ) Let me tell you a little bit about what this book means to me. I think it was my favorite book as a child. Somehow I ended up with my original 1970-something version in my book collection. Trouble with it was that someone had, at some point colored all over the last page and ripped half of the page off. The dénouement of this book really gives it a huge boost in charm, so having it ruined really sucked. A couple months ago I decided that if I ever wanted to read this book to my grandchildren I had better get myself a new copy before they were out of print forever. Well, it turns out it already is. And there are copies going on Amazon and Ebay for hundreds and hundreds of dollars! I did manage to track down a copy of the original printing version with minimal wear and tear for around 40 dollars and got it. A long term investment in my future grandchildren.

So back to my dream: There Shane was, with his suitcase busted open, it’s contents spilling out into a big mud puddle, including both of our Professor Wormbog books. I snatched them up and opened them both, trying to assess the water damage. As I did I found that Shane had colored all over the new one I had just purchased. So naturally I started balling. In real life I would not have cried over this. But clearly this dream symbol meant something bigger than a particular book. (No, I’m not a Jungian dream interpreter) Maybe it symbolized my childhood. Maybe the scribbles over the images represent my fading memories of the halcyon days of yore, frolicking without care. The 5-year-old Josh collecting super balls with dissolving rice-paper scoops at a carnival in Japan. The 8-year-old Josh attempting to get lost in the woods with my fancy new survival gear in Portland. The 11-year-old Josh riding my bike and collecting pollywogs in the dried river bed near our home in San Antonio. Whatever the reason, I wept hard over that ruined book.

I have many dreams every night, all of them clear and easy to remember. I think because I wake up dozens of time every night and the memories must get registered in my conscious memory. My last dream of the night had me and my family exploring a house for sale. In real life we just tried to refinance the condo we purchased two years ago, at the height of the real-estate bubble. Tried and failed. The value for our condo has plummeted. We are in this for the long run. This makes me sad because I always wanted my kids to have what I had as a kid: a house with a yard and places to explore nearby. Turns out that dream is dying. I don’t see any way that will happen before my boys have moved out in 8 years or so.

Well in my dream we are looking at a fairly modest, but beautiful home in the suburbs bordering the country. A huge, beautiful yard. Autumnal light spilling through the blinds onto a sprawling den with outdated yellow and orange carpeting. And the price was so low… but there was still no way we could get a loan for it when we are so upside down in our condo. And I wept. I sobbed uncontrollably. The kind where your whole body shakes. I woke with the distorted view of the living room through tears fading from my mind.

If my ruined Professor Wormbog book was my childhood fading, this house was the dream of my future fading. The dream for my kids’ childhood fading.

In real life I take comfort in the fact that kids can flourish with or without houses with yards. That the relationships between children and parents are the more important aspect of childhood. But in my dreams I weep.

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