In Dreams

I don’t much like to sleep, but I love to dream.

Last night I dreamed about one of the apartments I return to again and again in my dreams. The outer hallway is drab and carpeted and vaguely reminds me of the place I lived when I first left home when I was eighteen. But the inside is nothing like the apartment I actually lived in.

My dream apartment is shoddy, with slipcovered furniture and bare, beige walls that desperately need to be painted. I pass by the kitchen, remembering its rattling olive green refrigerator and painful lack of counterspace, its pressed board cabinets and chipped white sink, even though I haven’t been inside it since the last time I dreamed it. I know that there are things in the refrigerator that needed to be thrown out a year ago (the last dream involved popcorn and peanut butter, as I recall) and I don’t want to go anywhere near it. (Though now that I think about it, I also used this apartment in the short, short story I wrote for a competition a while back—the food details were from that.) I’m showing people around, herding them toward the sunny back bedrooms, trying to convince them that, yes, I have lived here.

But my guests don’t stay. I can tell that they’re unimpressed by the near-dead houseplants and the stale air. I feel a faint sense of disappointment when they leave, but it doesn’t bother me too much.

I could probably read all kinds of dire, depressing things into such a dream. These imaginary places I return to in my sleep (there are others—an office, a college, another, more frightening apartment) are fraught with my insecurities and minor details of the real past.

The thing that interested me most about this dream—aside from the comfort I felt in its dream-familiarity—was the appearance of a cat. She was pale blond and delicate and had long hair like the first (and only) cat my parents ever owned. I immediately felt worried that I had almost left her alone too long, that she might have died if I hadn’t returned just then. I petted and cuddled her, then started looking for food for her. I found some gray, x-and-o kibble in a bin, but it looked too old to eat.

Dream logic put an armload of fresh dry cat food in my arms, and as I lifted it to put it into the bin with the other food, I could smell it.

When I awoke this morning, I realized that it was my first experience of smelling something in a dream. Isn’t that odd? A few weeks ago Bengal asked me—out of the blue—if I could smell things in my dreams. He, apparently, smells things all the time. But here I am, forty-six years old, smelling dry cat food in my sleep.

I wish it had been something more pleasant. Dry cat food is only attractive to cats (well, also to mice and dogs, who have no taste at all).

I’ve always had color and sound. Now, smell. Oh, and taste. (I’ve had lovely things to eat in many dreams.) But I wonder what else I’ve been missing. I wonder about the qualities of other peoples’ dreams.

What are your dreams like?


Thanks so much for the love and cheer and encouragement during our inland hurricane days. The week was rather more of an adventure than a girl strictly needs. But like so many folks in the area, we found that our unplugged days gave our family plenty of time to just be together—reading, joking, working together. Priceless. As an extra-added bonus, we now have a generator so that when the next ice storm comes, we can be cozy even when the power goes out. Things to work on: better upper body strength so I can start the chainsaw myself, some kind of super-antenna for my cell phone (really, how many times did I find myself saying, “can you hear me now?”), a backup battery for my laptop, more peanut butter. Then we’ll finally be ready for the zombie invasion.

7 thoughts on “In Dreams”

  1. Trace says:

    We had an ice storm that put us out of power for 5 days!! We stayed at Jeff’s parents for that time, and now have a generator. It was the beginning of Dec, and cold as hell. It SUCKED!

    I don’t know if I smell things in my dreams but I have a recurring dream about a lake front cabin. For some reason there is always a sense of urgency about it. Like I need to get out of there quickly. Strange.

  2. I’m sitting here trying to remember if I’ve ever smelled anything in a dream and I honestly can’t remember. When I was younger I had this horrible recurring dream about an old white house by a lake but now I can’t remember any of the details of it.

  3. Trace and Danielle, I LOVE that you both have dreamed about scary cabins on the water. Perfect combination of elements: deep water, isolation, threatening house. When I hear or read stories like these, I’m immediately intrigued. Send me your dreams, please!!!!!

  4. My diagnosis is your cat was breathing on you in your sleep. You know how they do. And she had cat-food breath.

    Yes, I do smell things sometimes in my dreams.

    It does sound like an anxiety dream – the recurring ones usually are. Mine always involves going up a set of stairs or otherwise climbing something that gets progressively rickety as I go upward, until I am trapped.

    Not too vague, there!

  5. Trace says:

    I’ll do my best! I often have dreams of water.

    One dream that I’ve had over the years isthat I’m on a raft or small boat with others and we’re travelling by night, trying to go under a large bridge.

    I don’t know why but we’re trying to get to the other side of the bridge before some malicious force finds out that we’re leaving.

    I never find out if we get to the other side or not, but I’m always left with a sense of unease when I wake up.

  6. Hey gorgeous,

    So glad you’re okay! One does always need to be ready for any and all zombie invasions so there’s the upside. As for dreams, I usually have terrible ones for some reason. But sometimes I talk to people who have died which is nice as their personalities remain exactly as they were in life. Strange. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled anything in a dream, but the worst one I ever had was where I was baptized and came up with cuts all over my face. It doesn’t sound that bad, but it stayed with me for a long time.

  7. Such tense, strange dreams, ladies. I’ve always been fascinated with the debate about where dreams come from–Are they random brain firings or tools for working out our waking lives?

    I don’t know where this came from–Last night I was getting ready to play in a pro-am golf tournament with Michelle Wie as my partner. Thank goodness my alarm went off before we reached the first tee and I beaned some poor bystander in the head. At least lunch in the clubhouse was tasty.

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