beds, boots and bad debts

Three separate but closely-blended university-related dreams in one night:

1. Arriving at the student flat that had been provided for me. It was lovely, big and light, at one corner of the third or fourth floor overlooking the big city which as night came on became lit up with neon and car headlights.

The flat seemed to only have single beds, but four of them.  My mum had driven me to the city, and stayed overnight.  She was comandeering the music we played in the flat, which I only grudgingly accepted because she was the guest.  I felt I couldn’t start making the place my own til I’d heard some of my choice of tunes there.  Mum chose the bed by one window, so I went for the furthest away.  I was looking to see if any of them were doubles; one of them looked like it might be.  I would investigate further the next day.

The bathroom walls were made of one-way glass, so when I sat on the toilet it looked as though I was right in the middle of the apartment with nothing between me and my mum, who was sitting on the end of her bed.  I was astonished when she assured me that she really couldn’t see through the wall – and she was equally astonished that I could.

2. Unpacking my shoes onto a low shelf in the apartment, I saw to my surprise that I had a dark red pair of suede boots, some knee-high disco platforms in glittery red, and some black patent Dr Martens.  I hoped my mum, nearby, wouldn’t pay attention to what I was doing and criticise my shoe-spending.  My pink DMs (which I do have in real life) were now made of suede rather than patent leather, and the disco boots had got wet, bleeding some of their colour into one pink boot, staining it a different colour to its partner.  I tried to dry them off, hoping the red colour would fade, which it did slightly.  But I couldn’t get rid of the water; droplets kept appearing around the disco shoe.  I couldn’t take the boot into the bathroom to sort it out properly because then my mum would see and be angry that I’d thrown money away by spoiling the shoes that I shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

3. Despite having not given out my address, I had a stack of post at the new place (which now looked very different, dark and narrow).  There was an A4 envelope with my dad’s handwriting on, saying “open 31.12.2003” (my 21st birthday) and with a post-mark dated to 2007.  I wondered why my dad had sent me a birthday present separately from my mum, apparently in secret, apparently long before the date, and why it had taken so many years to arrive. And now, turned up at this address.

When I opened it though, it wasn’t from my dad at all.  The letter demanded repayment of my undergraduate loan, claiming I owed over £10k (significantly more than I actually borrowed, even with interest). The company had tracked me to this address, forging my dad’s handwriting and giving the date of my 21st to trick me into opening the letter.  I spoke to him on the phone and we agreed it was a scam which I didn’t need to respond to. All other questions remained unanswered.

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First day at university

Induction day for my MSc course, although the building it was in was a cross between the sixth form block at my school, and an NHS outpatients’ centre I once worked at as a secretary.  My Dad drove me there although it was only a few miles down the road. It was in an uninspiring suburb of the city, surrounded by a large car park.  The main road there was congested.  I was the last to arrive and the other students were already settled at long trestle tables and were eating from a buffet.

Surrounded by 18-20 year olds who first assumed I was a similar age and reacted with unflattering surprise to finding out how old I actually am, I felt embarassed that my career isn’t further along. I felt they were looking at me thinking they would be mortified to be in my position at my age.

We were directed to play ice-breaking / team-building games outdoors on the back lawn.  It was a sunny day, and I loitered by the outer edges, feeling out-of-place and looked down upon.  I felt I may have made the wrong decision in coming back to university, not only because I was out-youthed, but that the course was too basic and not covering my real interests.  I couldn’t show those around me my strengths, and the experiences I had – which my coursemates didn’t – were not recognised.

wtf, subconscious?

Well, this one doesn’t need much interpretation.  The insecurities that crop up here are real and self-explanatory, albeit not as prominent in my conscious mind as in this dream.

My dad would drive me to university if I had to move away for it – although in the dream, the campus was only a short bus ride away, and in reality, though it will involve a bit of a commute, I’ve no intentions of moving out of my current house. I see the being-driven as a metaphor for the help that my dad – a lecturer at another university – is helping me in getting back to academia.

The symbol of being on a busy, congested or slow journey is a common one in people’s dreams. Easy enough to see the analogy. In this case, I also had a sense of guilt that my dad was putting himself out, when I could have made my own way to campus and in fact probably would have got there more easily.

It’s only as I’m writing these dreams up that I’m seeing the links that my subconscious mind makes between different times of my life, and how they affect me now. The locations – sixth form, and my former workplace – tell me that I’m still feeling sore about being underestimated, undermined or unrecognised in those places.

As for the buffet, we could explore the symbolic meaning of food – nourishment and all that – but I dunno, I’m happy enough to say that I just fricking love food.