After a few sad weeks alone, cheering myself with wine and weed and Wolf Parade, I started to try and program my dreams. I’d read about it once, or seen a TV program, I don’t know, it’s not all that important. Songwriters who’d found a way to write songs when they sleep. Terence Trent D’Arby, I think. He dreamed Marvin Gaye gave him a song. I wasn’t looking for anything so grandiose.
I’d go to bed and just think; that’s the easiest way to put it. But I’d try and train my thoughts, keep them focused on what I wanted to dream about, which was, you know, her. I wanted to see her in my dreams. She wouldn’t see me in waking life, I’d see her in dreams. Maybe that’s violating her in some way? I don’t know. It’s not really her. It’s just, like, a projection of her. What we don’t know can’t hurt us and all that. It’s not as though I was going to tell her.
The Terence Trent D’Arby song I was referring to is called “To Know Someone Deeply is to Know Someone Softly.” I don’t think it sounds very much like Marvin Gaye, for whatever that’s worth.
I had to try for many, many nights. But I was patient. I didn’t really have anything else to do, and sleep was what held peace for me. It felt good to fall asleep, and it felt good to fall asleep thinking of her. I missed her. I missed her face. I fell asleep looking at her face, stroking her hair. It was nice.
I had an ex who dreamed all the time of babies. She spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on pregnancy tests and eventually stopped sleeping with me altogether. I found out later that dreaming of babies means you regard yourself as immature.
There was nothing special about the night that it first worked, apart from the dream itself. Which was amazing. The dream. I felt everything, not just physical. When I woke, I felt loved. I walked around with the sensation of a full heart for days. When that left me, I was sad, but not because it wasn’t real. It was real. Even a projection is something real.
Isn’t “To Know Someone Deeply is to Know Someone Softly” real?
I had to try many, many more nights for it to work again, but I was patient. It had felt so wonderful when it happened that I was willing to work to make it happen again. And when it did, when it did happen, it was slightly different than before. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was different, but it was different. I still felt it, the physical and the love and the full heart, but it was just so slightly different. Diminished, yes. But also just, well, different.
Terence Trent D’Arby changed his name. He’s now called Sananda Maitreya.
The very next night, I fell asleep quickly, with no time to just think, before I had the opportunity to train my thoughts and keep them focused on what I wanted to dream about. Still she came to me. But in dreams, there are those moments in which we think it’s like this but really it’s like that, while talking to the person their identity changes, you’re in your house but it’s not your house, the memory shifts from happening in your teens to happening in your twenties.
Her name was Sue. In the dream. It was her, but she said her name was Sue. And I didn’t feel it, the physical, nor the love. My heart was empty.
He sang, “The larger picture will come with time.” But he was wrong. He was wrong when he sang that.
Chris Drabick is a former rock music journalist whose fiction has appeared in Cease, Cows, Midwestern Gothic, After the Pause and Great Lakes Review, and non-fiction in BULL and Stoneboat, among others. His first novel, “The Way We Get By”, is due from Unsolicited Press in November 2019. He teaches English at the University of Akron in Ohio, where he lives with his wife Alison and their sons, Augie and Elliott.