© 2012 Keith McWalter
One spring night years ago, sleeping next to my now-ex/then-estranged-but-bodily-proximate wife, I fell heavily and credulously into a dream. It was one of those dreams of such detail and conviction that I never once thought to question its reality as I dreamed it.
In the dream, I was in New York and attended, at the request of a faceless female friend, a literary discussion group held in a place that looked much like the library at the University Club on East 52nd Street. There was lively discussion of recent bestsellers. Russell Crowe was in attendance, but had to leave early. I found myself seated, for the dinner portion of the discussion, beside Mia Farrow. She was charming and shy and interesting. As the discussion group adjourned, she asked if I would meet her at a nearby coffee shop, and naturally I agreed.
The coffee shop was in Greenwich Village, to which I had been instantly teleported in that cinematic “cut to” manner so characteristic of dreams. The coffee shop was, it turned out, part bookstore (books, again!), laid out in a disturbingly Dali-esque labyrinth of steeply sloping floors, covered with those three foot square, bright red felt carpet swatches I last saw in a head shop in Haight-Ashbury. I groped my way around, and finally stumbled upon the room in which Mia sat, smiling up at me, around a table full of other women. She looked up from what appeared to be an intense conversation with a woman whom I recognized as the leader of a therapy group I had joined and left in the late ‘80s. I say I recognized Mia, although she actually wore the face of the graphics administrator from the office where I worked in San Francisco.
Mia rose and sweetly indicated to me that I was to wait outside while she finished her conversation with my group therapy leader, which I was given to know was pointedly about me.
I waited outside in the labyrinth, nervously paging through books. Finally Mia emerged. I asked “How’d I do?”, and she said “Fine.” She said she wants to pursue a relationship with me and hopes that no matter what happens we can remain friends.
In the dream, I imagine her complicated family life, the terrible rift with Woody, so like, in its contempt for the division between public and private live, the story (hot at the time) of Bill and Monica. I envision the multiple adoptive children, the apartment on the Upper West Side, rambling and chaotic, all the sumptuous detail that the subconscious can command in an instant.
I show her a grid on a piece of paper. It’s supposed to be related to my work, to show her what I do, but it has personal stuff in it – years across the top, categories of qualities down the side, women’s names in the boxes.
Upon waking up next to my wife, she immediately and with great authority interpreted the dream as symbolizing my need for approval, my attachment to New York, which I see as a repository of standards and judgment, and my need, specifically, to feel important, as evidenced by my being attracted to a “smart” woman celebrity like Mia Farrow. The emphasis on books is all about my need to be thought intellectual, and the choice of Mia, and of me by Mia, is about some “smart” woman approving that quality.
I lie in bed for a long time, trying to organize this in my head before I fall asleep again.