I've written at least twice about this dream I've had for many years. It takes place in a giant room with a platform in the middle that's much like a treehouse, but with guardrails instead of walls. The walls of the gymlike room are lined with lockers, and the platform has couches, books, toys and games. I have a locker on the wall to the right of the main entrance, and it's filled with papers and clothes. It's a busy, yet fun, place, essentially a lounge.
The occupants are past classmates from different years of my school life. Sometimes we gather to renew our high school diplomas, but for the most part we're just there to hang out. There's always a strong feeling of nostalgia, even though I'm not that nostalgic for some of the people I see there.
Every time I have the dream, I'm visiting for the first time in at least a year. I have a feeling of guilt and neglect every time I open my locker, because there's always some unfinished business in there. Closing the locker is usually a relief. I feel better atop the platform, though sometimes climbing up to it proves to be tough (ladder or rope, depending on the dream). Sometimes people acknowledge me and sometimes they don't. The platform wraps around a pillar that might be a tree, and I can picture each of the four sides clearly — each one seems to represent a different vibe, perhaps because specific people have favorite sitting spots.
The dream I wrote about in 2011, where I finally conquered the elusive class assignment, was followed by several recurrences where I had to do it all over, with the same snags. For whatever reason, though, the consequences seemed far less pressing that time around. Mostly, I lounged and tried to organize my locker.
I had this dream again the night before last. For the first time, it was drastically different.
Everything looked the same, but it felt like I was truly visiting without being an active participant. I didn't recognize most of the people there, and the ones I did were not people I grew up with. I went up to the platform first and observed it without the least bit of stress, like an alumnus visiting his college's lounge or student union — it's bustling, but you're apart from it.
When I climbed down and strode to my locker, it was no longer mine. As usual, a bunch of stuff was in there — old papers, unwashed pants, dirty sneakers, moldy food I forgot about — but the locks were off, and I had to take it all home with me. I could return any time I wanted, but my extended commitment was over. It felt like closure, and it gave me an inner peace.
That's when the most tedious part of this dream series reared its head like never before.
The combination lock that I used to secure my locker was mine. Specifically, it was a real lock I'd bought in 7th grade — serial number 904587, combination 26-12-22. For whatever reason, it was sitting among a pile of other, identical locks in my locker. Before I could leave, I had to find my lock. So for the rest of the dream, I tediously — and in vivid detail — checked the back of every lock for the serial number. Every time I thought I found it, the number would morph into a different yet similar number. My brain has a stunning capacity for generating random six-digit numbers, I now realize.
Eventually, for some reason, I started to try 26-12-22 on every lock. Spin to clear, right two turns, left, slight right. And it worked on all of them. By this point, everyone in the room was watching the safecracker at work. Finally, I found the right lock, threw it in my box of stuff and woke up. That inner peace remained, as it tends to do after having a dream where my subconscious worked something out. But as usual, I haven't yet figured out what that is.
I guess I'll have to pay another visit to find out.