When I say I’m “living the dream,” you probably think that means I’m lounging on a beach in the Caribbean somewhere. Or maybe you think that means I have a high-paying executive job with little stress and excellent benefits. Or maybe it means I’m serenely happy, doing the things I love most in life and loving every part of it.
Well, I don’t have a super great salary. And I’m definitely not lounging on a beach in the Caribbean. (I’m lounging on my couch in Greenville, South Carolina). And while I am happy with my life as it is right now, that’s not what I mean either.
I mean it’s like my life is one of my literal dreams.
I don’t know if it’s due to my voracious entertainment habits or my horrendous eating habits, but I tend to have extremely vivid dreams. None of them are frightening, really, merely uncomfortable.
The Jazz Lounge
BFF #2 and I wander the streets of New York. She’s trying to show me a cool little record shop (she might just be a hipster) and walks into a jazz lounge saying, “oh yeah, this guy (the cashier) is super great!” The guy was not super great. He was downright scary. So we left the shop (because it wasn’t a record shop) and never found what we were looking for.
Another night, again BFF #2 and I wander the streets of New York. We’re trying to find a certain bagel shop, but she insists the one we pass isn’t the one, so we keep moving. We come across an outdoor choir concert in the middle of the street and stop to listen — it was heavenly, but it was not free. So BFF sneaked away while I tripped over anything and everything trying to not get caught.
I emerged from the concert to find myself in a somewhat-indoor amphitorium called the Ecleston, where Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka was playing on a massive screen in front of hundreds of people wrapped up in picnic blankets. I’d lost BFF by this point, so I sat down to read 4 pages of a book. (???) After that I found her hiding under a blanket on the far side of the room so we picked up and went on our merry way, searching for the perfect bagel shop. I woke up before we found it.
The Undrinkable Drink
This last dream was the most frustrating. I was with my brothers on a scavenger hunt in the middle of one of those oceanfront tourist trap towns. All the shops were themed and piratey and we wandered up and down the streets for hours looking for various items. The last on the list was a certain alcoholic beverage that nobody knew how to make. I’d tell you what it was, but I don’t drink so I think my brain just completely made it up. I don’t remember, but it looked milky and gross.
Anyway, all the bars closed at 7pm that night. I was growing increasingly frustrated because it was 6:52 and we’d finally found someone to make it, but it cost about $200. And none of us were going to drink it. I think my dream ended with me scowling at the drink in front of me wanting to complete the scavenger hunt by drinking it, not wanting to drink it at all, and hating the fact I’d just spent $200 for something so stupid.
So other than bars closing at 7pm, nothing about my dreams is abnormal. It’s perfectly likely that I’d be wandering the streets of New York, or that I’d accidentally walk into a choir concert or jazz lounge, or be hanging out with my brothers near the ocean. The theme each night is to wander and wander, never finding what I’m looking for. But my dreams are all just distanced enough from reality that I wake up with a “…huh?” feeling every single morning.
So when I say I’m “living the dream,” I mean I have that surreal, “…huh?” feeling about real life, and that I wandered and searched without finding what I was looking for. And that happened this week.
My mother is visiting (hi Mom!) and staying with me in my one-bedroom apartment for 3 weeks. Naturally that means we’ve both had to compromise our living habits somewhat, and that was evident when we went grocery shopping. I had more to buy than usual, so I made a list. If you’re an experienced grocery shopper, you know that making a list means you get through the ordeal faster and with more success — but that was not the case this Thursday evening, oh no.
First, the Aldi I always go to was closed for renovations. Sadness. But there’s another Aldi down the street! Happiness! Unfortunately the new Aldi has a different layout, so what should have been a 20 minute zip-through-the-aisles trip turned into 45 minutes of slowly strolling and examining every shelf. I didn’t like it one bit. It had that surreal dreamlike “huh?” quality to it.
Usually there are a few things Aldi doesn’t carry, like my preferred shampoo and conditioner and facewash, so we stopped at my usual Walmart as well. I was thinking, “phew, I know this place. This’ll be nice and quick.” Right? Wrong. They rearranged my Walmart. Do you know how hard it is to say to your mother from out of the country, “Yes, the lotion is two aisles that way” and 10 minutes later you haven’t found the lotion yet? Or your facewash? It was very “…what?”
We finally made it home 2.5 hours after our adventure began. I am thankful for my mother’s patience, because I certainly had none. I am thankful we had all night to go grocery shopping, because it certainly took all night. And I am thankful that my dreams have helped me grow accustomed to being uncomfortable, because I certainly was. But you know, I always wake up from my uncomfortable dreams and enjoy a good laugh as I shard their absurdity. It’s just the same when that happens in life. Even though you say, “huh?” at the time, you get past it and move on and can laugh at your odd situations. Living the dream isn’t so bad when you can make it into a good story.