It's rare that I can place the exact time of a dream, but this one, I can.
I slept over at my house this past Friday night. I felt uneasy about doing this, because my mom told me she wasn't feeling well, and was worried that the antibiotics she's been taking might be leading to another bout of Clostridium difficile. (She had one of the symptoms.) But I would just be a mile across town, and if she needed me to take her to the hospital, she could just call me.
I slept in a bit. Actually, I fell asleep at about 2:00 in the morning, and woke up at 8:30. I called her to see how she was doing, and she felt much better. I hung up, rolled over, and decided to get a little more sleep.
As I slept, I dreamed that I had decided to return to work. I don't mean I had decided I needed a job, which I do; I mean I was heading back to the place where I used to work, to try to sneak in. And not the last place I worked, either, on the factory floor. I was returning to the office I occupied from 2002 through 2007, when I experienced my first layoff - which, coincidentally, was four years ago today.
The dream was happening in real time, more or less: it was a Saturday morning, which for some reason made it easier for me to stroll into the place. I went in through the front door - in real life, I would have used the back door to get to that office - and made it past the front guards and through the security turnstiles without using my badge, which I surrendered when I left in December. I was wearing my long black coat and the clothes I would normally wear in the office.
I wasn't just going back for a visit. I had a goal: I wanted to retrieve all of my emails, voice mails, and any regular mail that had accumulated since I left that position.
In real life I returned to that office once, to have lunch with my co-workers a month or so after I came back to work in August 2007. Much of it was as I had left it, but my chair and computer were gone, both taken to be used by someone else. I did retrieve some things I had left behind when I was laid off earlier that year, including a big bag of Magnetic Poetry words. But the whole experience was so unsettling that I decided not to go back again.
In my dream I was able to work my way up to my office, somehow not being stopped by anyone who knew me or challenged by anyone who didn't. I also made it through the security zone around our facility, which was like a fortress inside the main plant. I found my way to my desk and realized that the computer would be inaccessible - all the passwords had been changed. I tried to get access to my voice mails and found that the password system there had been changed as well. But as I looked around my office area I saw that there was a bulletin board hanging up where one hadn't been before. On it were pinned about a dozen pieces of unopened correspondence addressed to me, including one that looked like a birthday card that had been sent by a friend. I took these down and put them into a plastic grocery bag. (In reality I used to have about a dozen of these in one of my drawers.) I then began to wonder how I would make it back out of the building without being stopped by security.
I slipped down to the front entrance using back passages and other secret routes I learned in my nearly two decades there. As I came out a side door leading to the front exits, I ran into a crowd of about fifty people waiting to leave the building through the turnstiles, all getting searched and wanded by security. I quickly took the letters out of the bag and stuffed them into my pockets for some reason. How am I gonna do this?, I thought as I watched the crowd.
I woke up in a cold sweat. It was like a "test anxiety / missed class" dream, the kind were it takes you a while to convince yourself that you've been out of college for years or even decades, and you didn't really have a test or a class to worry about. Only now I had to convince myself that I hadn't actually just snuck into my old workplace and gotten trapped there. The best argument for this was that I was, in fact, still in bed at close to ten o'clock on a Saturday morning.
Waning gibbous, February 20, 2022, 3:45 AM
1 year ago