A long time ago, on another planet in another galaxy, I hung out amid a group of people somewhere, swapping stories about dreams. One guy said, "I had the strangest dream last night. I had to go to the bathroom and every toilet I went, there was shit all over the place and I couldn't go." He proceeded to get descriptive to the point where we retched.
I said, "That's truly a disgusting dream. I never heard anything like it before."
He snickered and said, "Yes, but now that you did, it'll always be stuck in your head."
Mind-fucker. He was right.
In my family culture, dreams hold significant importance. At least once a week the family assembled to discuss their dreams around the kitchen table. My father was a great interpreter and regularly dissected those facile dreams I recounted when younger. Oftentimes, faced with dilemmas, my mother said, "Dream on it. You'll find a solution." She was right.
My brother and I had similar nightmares from early childhood until we left for college. It was the usual one taking place at the paternal grandfather's house. And the only dream we never told our parents.
My father's father arrived in the US at the turn of the previous century, penniless at 17. His four older brothers emigrated earlier and saved money to ship him in from Russia. The last brother, the sixth, was denied entrance and ended up in Argentina. Today, those relatives (retaining the original last name) are one of the wealthiest families in that country. But I digress.
Illiterate with broken English, my grandfather's livelihood consisted of making brims for Fedora hats which men wore back then. He came up with the idea of adding gold phillips to the brims, a successful line addition. He ended up diversifying, adding diamonds and subsequently became a diamond trader. Somehow, he got involved in stocks and became one of the largest shareholders of Fox Studios. At 30, he was a multimillionaire and bought a five-story house as huge as a manse in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. By 1932, he took his wife, an English Jew, and his three children (my dad was the youngest, at five) for a year-long cruise around the world. Upon their return, docked at a pier in New York City, they discovered the stock market just crashed. It was the Great Depression.
He made more money during this time than ever before. After he died in the late 1940's, my uncle went through the family fortune in a few years, up to the point of bankruptcy. The only thing left was the house in NJ and property upstate given to my father so my uncle couldn't lose that.
The house in NJ figured prominently in those dreams. We only visited the house a few times. My father didn't like going there, esp. with the traffic from Long Island. Even so, the house left an indelible mark on us.
The lobby, I mean, the entrance to that house resembled a movie set, endowed with a massive hanging crystal chandelier and creamy black and white marble floors. Right in front was a resplendent stairway with a thick banister that I slid on a few times. The stairway stopped at a landing, easily visible from the entrance, graced with a stained glass window. Back at the lobby, there was on the left hand side an arched doorway to the living rooms (furnished with giant fireplaces) and to the right another that led to a cavernous dining room (adorned with a fireplace) and attached sun room. By the side of the stairs was a long, dark corridor that ended at the kitchen. Other dizzying corridors held entry to pantry, bathrooms, a private family dining room and maid's rooms.
I dreamt of that lobby for years. Paralyzed with fear, I stood immobile listening to the ticking of the grandfather clock, audible from the dining room. A few times I tried to venture into the living room, but my legs felt immersed in molasses. When that familiar sensation of dread overcame me, I whimpered. I knew something bad waited for me in the bowels of that house. Something that wanted to hurt me. I couldn't turn around and leave. My legs wouldn't move. And it was coming for me. Tick tock tick tock tick tock. In terror, I awoke in a pool of sweat, heart thudding. This was one dream I never wanted to analyze and outside of the few conversations with my brother, never spoke of it.
Over the years, my dreams helped me resolve untenable situations and even provided a sense of premonition. Sometimes it worked against me. While working at one institution, I dreamt about a corporate restructuring, of all things. With utmost clarity who was going to head up an area. That morning, I sat down with one of my co-workers, Marv and told him, "They're going to change the entire division and put so-and-so in charge."
Belatedly, I realized he was the wrong person to make such a disclosure. Within seconds, the head of the division, the #2 in the bank, called me into his office.
"Take a seat," he gracefully said. "I'd like to know how you found out about the upcoming changes. No one knew except myself and the president of the bank."
I fidgeted in the chair. "You're not going to believe me."
"Try me," he cajoled.
"I had this dream last night-"
"Enough!" he bellowed. "Out of my office. I don't know who you're protecting, but from now on, when you find out these things, you come to me first!"
Marv sat in his office smirking. "How did you know?" he asked, hearing the howls emanating from that office.
"I had a dream."
At first, he looked at me dubiously. Yet, he believed me because we worked together for a few years and knew I was a straight-shooter.
"Do you dream often?" he asked with hesitation.
Intrigued, he opened up about one he had. Little by little, he and I shared dreams. And got another co-worker involved.
One morning, the other co-worker raced into work. "Marv, what was that last number?"
"Last night I had a dream you gave me six numbers for the lottery. But I only remembered five. I played them this morning. So, what's the last number?"
It turned out he won a few thousand dollars on those five numbers. Then, we really shared dreams!
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.