Sleep Shopping

Last night I dreamed that I went to the supermarket in my pajamas. I had unbrushed hair and a blanket wrapped around my middle.  I was wearing slippers too.  That was how I dressed, or didn’t, to complete my weekly shopping.

As I was walking into the store I ran into the dad of a kid from my son’s school.  He was not wearing pajamas, slippers or a blanket.  He was dressed like a grown-up and seemed like a winner.  In my dream, he was played by this guy.  Remember him?

His comments were courteous, his eyes condemning.  He glanced at my jammies and almost didn’t speak to me, but he knew I’d seen him, so he had to say hello.

We exchanged pleasantries, reminded one another of our children’s names and then I confronted him.  “You weren’t going to talk to me, were you?”

He looked right at me and said “well, I wasn’t sure I should.”

Clearly he had disdain for my attire and was concerned he would become a loser by association.  It is contagious after all.

I smiled and told him I had to get moving.  I turned to go and, from over my shoulder, I saw that he seemed relieved to be rid of me.

I continued toward the door with my back to the dad.  I scanned the vicinity for a cart and saw only one.  It was empty, but rolling away from me in the hands of another mother.

The dad and I watched as this other mother, also in pajamas, had a conversation with the cart.  She seemed to be losing her mind.  She yelled at the cart and pushed it more forcefully.  Her ire seemed to escalate as she neared her car.  Finally, with all her might, she sent the cart crashing toward the curb.

I needed the cart, but I didn’t go get it.  I just watched as the mother melted in that way that people do when they’ve served their purpose in your dreams and then you don’t need them anymore.  She was gone and I stood alone with my back to the dad.  And then I woke up.

I hopped out of bed to look at the puffy bags beneath my eyes.  I knew they were there even before I reached the mirror.  What the hell was that?  I stared at my face and wondered about the dream.

Am I the other mother too?  Someone once told me that you are all of the characters in your dreams.  I guess I understand that.

The dad represented that career success I’ve never had (and obviously, on some level, I must believe is only achieved by those who don‘t expel other people from their bodies).  He was physically fit, well dressed, clearly employed and mildly disgusted with what I’d become.

The other mother was what I fear I’m going to be.  Oddly, she wasn’t particularly overweight, but she clearly had some level of dementia brought on by shopping and chores.  I can relate to that.

What puzzles me is my reaction to the dad when he found me in public in my pajamas.  I felt no particular shame and I’m certain I was acutely aware of my outfit as I traveled to the store.  I even felt a calm determination when I confronted him about avoiding me.

I felt myself casually demanding to be taken seriously, and some part of me believes the other mother was there to make me look better somehow.  I think I was saying to the dad “I could be you, but I choose to be me, and I’ll never be her.”

I hope I’m right about that.  I have vivid dreams almost every night and I struggle constantly to interpret them.  I hope this one is a sign that I should just be myself, live my life, complete my chores and not worry about what others perceive of me.  I don’t intend ever to shop in my pajamas, but if circumstances dictate one day that I do, I will remember this dream and just try to keep my wits about me.

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