Friday, May 23, 2008

Dreams of Roma

The city of Rome is a frequent character in my dreams. I'm not sure why Rome--Athens is more deeply enmeshed in my heartstrings--unless my subconscious is making puns. Rome represents freedom, retreat, carefree-ness (carefreeity?), new adventures.

My recurring dream is that G. and I are in Rome, enjoying a retreat far away from everything in a different, beautiful, mysterious world of heart-stoppingly beautiful architecture and infinite places to explore. There are a few variations on this dream. Night falls and either we are planning to meet for dinner after spending the afternoon in different places--very much looking forward to a candlit meal and sharing the day's events--or we are together but on opposite ends of a tour group*. Then, a disaster strikes, and everyone has to make a mass exodus on foot from the heart of Rome. Sometimes a flaming meteor hits the city. Once there was a giant, man-eating monster in the canals (canals are really in Venice, I know) and we had to leave because of that. It almost got me when I leaned over a fountain! It sounds silly by daylight, but it was terribly frightening. We walk and walk, refugees trying to find each other in the crowd.

Rome is taken away and we are refugees.

Dream #2, G. and are on a plane for Rome, and it gets stuck on the runway.

Dream #3, I am in Rome alone, visiting friends or strangers, I'm not sure which. Maybe it's an exchange program. But I'm staying with these people in their apartment, and I can't get out into the city. I just can't leave for some reason. And then it's time to fly home, but I haven't seen Rome at all.

But then! Here, my friends, is where it gets good. After all my thwarted attempts to escape to Rome, and the tragedy or frustration that ensues, I had a wonderful dream two nights ago:

I woke up on a wrought-iron bed with a beautiful white coverlet in a cream-colored room with high ceilings. White curtains were billowing around a window, which framed a view of an Italian courtyard. I felt deeply content, having found a leafy, quiet retreat in the great city of Rome. I would spend the day in the city and then return to my little haven. But first, a cappuccino!--
---BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP--My alarm slammed me into reality, a day of sitting in my car in frustrating traffic in order to sit at my desk. Oh yes, I was grouchy yesterday morning, but as afternoon came and the sun broke through, creating corresponding changes in my disposition, I realized what a gift the dream was! I was in Rome! My longtime dream was becoming reality (albeit in the dream)! I was content, safe, and looking forward to a cappuccino!

I think this series of dreams is about the frustration a long PhD process creates. The non-PhD spouse (me) may get stalled in a despised career in order to bring in the steady paycheck, thinking it would be best to stick with the same, steady job until the PhD candidate finishes (lest they both end up refugees, on the street unable to pay the mortgage). The PhD candidate also feels stuck, at the mercy of his adviser. Both are working very hard, but not bringing in much money. They just can't get to Rome. Eventually, perhaps the non-PhD spouse decides to move ahead into a new career without waiting for the PhD process to be over (going to Rome by herself), and this creates a sense of relief for her.

*I wouldn't do a tour group in my waking life. Just sayin'.


Narya said...

the possible interpretation that occurred to me, however, was that "Rome" represents the "being Italian" of your blog title, i.e., all the relaxed juicy things you want in your life. And? you kind of get there, or ARE there (i.e., in Rome), but then Something Happens and you can't actually stay there in that juicy relaxed place.

kStyle said...

Ooh, that's good! I think that's definitely another layer.