DreamScape Mark

The latest episodic dream started with me simply leaving work for lunch.

The day was typical. Nothing out of the ordinary. The epitome of a surreal dreamland setting, complete with the small, telltale triggers of the amiss that went unnoticed, because that wasn’t the message or the mission at hand. I was hungry, in ever since of the word.

Again, nothing seemed blatantly out-of-order, except there was something… odd. I didn’t care. My focus was on leaving through the glass staff door to lunch, outside the stale, static atmosphere that was driving me insane day in and day out. Once my hands touched the door handle, I felt a slight surge of energy pulsating through the long metal knob. This for only a nanosecond, but it felt like a lifetime. Again, I didn’t think much of it. I was hungry.

I opened the door and instead of seeing the vast, empty stadium parking lot that connects to our meek and easily dismissive one that was just there, clear as day, through the glass staff door, I was back on my college campus from seven years earlier. The University of Tennessee. Only it wasn’t the University of Tennessee. Not the University of Tennessee I remembered at least. However, it was the University of Tennessee, and instead of stopping in awe at the sudden mental time warp/temporal shift, I didn’t skip a beat.

I was hungry.

As I walked the campus shifted with me. Nothing stayed the same, except the building I resided in for a majority of my time at school. Also the big pockets of students that inhabited new versions of buildings past remained a constant. They didn’t notice me. Why should they? I didn’t belong and who pays attention to those who don’t belong? I was a lost ghost haunting their pristine existence and my hunger grew with each step. My attention was mostly on the hunger. Anything else that popped up was simply a distraction of sorts. With that said, I noticed the different faction of students usually wore designated colors. Royal blues, satin purples, coal-black, crimson reds. At first glance, I figured these were fraternities and sororities showcasing their colors, but as I got deeper into the ever-changing landscape that I used to call home for four and a half years, I noticed that these groups were coed, eradicating the Greek theory.

I noticed a pang of yearning when I passed these groups. I noticed this yearning coincided with my hunger.

Then suddenly a tsunami of apprehension hit me like a foul gust of wind. An onslaught of long-buried dread followed. My hunger had taken an equally ravenous companion, which possessed me like Hell’s most championed demon. By now, I’m well aware that I’m dreaming, but that moment of crystal lucidity was as fleeting as the metamorphic campus I used to call home not even a decade ago. Because I now had deadlines. I now had places to go and meetings to attend. I was needed and there wasn’t enough time. My dreamlike gait immediately changed gears, going into maddening fast speed. The new gen UT students were becoming an even bigger blur, their gender safe colors blending into some Jackson Pollock inspired madness.

I was Alice’s White Rabbit, and this phantasmagoric version of my collegiate home was my Wonderland.

I was also still incredibly, ferociously hungry.

In my deranged dash across this warped nether-sphere, my frantic trepidations clouded my peripheral view, quite metaphorically and literally. What class was I late for? What deadline was I close to missing? Who am I covering for at work? These thoughts manifested across the campus canvas in fonts that Tim Burton would do a death drop over. Taunting. Menacing. Ruthless in their endeavors to trip me up the first chance it was optioned on the table. Mixed with that was my simple hunger having now morphed into a devastating malnourishment that was impossible due to my current break neck speed. Why was I so hungry and thirsty? Why I was I here? Why did I need to be somewhere…? What had I forgotten?

The melted forms of the students continued about their lives despite their current state. They continued to ignore me and my frantic running. They proceeded with their daily plans and lives as if they had all the time in the world.

Then, without an iota of a warning, the University of Tennessee started to change again, and like the seasonal changes that bring about various emotions among the moody and depressed, my anxiety went with the flow despite my futile attempts to stop it. I immediately needed to complete all my tasks. The chimerical situation had become dire. Then like a symbol of divine clarity among the chaotic landscape I could see the apartments I called home for most of my college experience again. They were the endgame. I had to get there. For some reason I needed to get there. Maybe this will all make sense once I entered the doors. Maybe I would find out what I had forgotten if I could just make my way home.

But there wasn’t enough time. I had to finish before I ran out of time. Why wasn’t there enou-

Then I woke up…

This dream plagued me for days just like all the others of its kind did before it. They always ended with me frantically trying to carry out a forgotten goal, which left unfinished would lead to dire consequences for the rest of my life. I thought about this for some time and a common thematic thread started to form, correlating with my waking hours desire for knowledge.

I was thirsty for more knowledge, parched for more time to assimilate as much knowledge as possible. My time at UTK, while fondly memorable, was a complete and micro blip in the grand scheme of my life’s journey. Paper deadlines, class projects, parties, job responsibilities… One day I woke up and had simply ran out of time.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t acquire a great deal of knowledge during my collegiate career. I gained a lot of new perspectives in every aspect of life, made life long friends, found new types of art to stimulate my soul. But I’d be lying if I said I left Knoxville incomplete in some capacity.

Maybe this is the explanation for my recurring dreams, where I would find myself either on a warped version  of UTK’s campus or any other educational institution that I attended. Some friends have interpreted similar dreams to relive their youth and the best time of their lives. Others advised that maybe I should go back to school. Either way makes sense, but if it’s the former, I’d rather be in control of my dream narrative to live the parts of my college experience I missed out on due to playing the role of Alice’s White Rabbit. Wonder if I would feel complete if I explored that missing piece, albeit through a lucid dream?

Who knows…