The first point is that this is a recurring dream, which is kind of unusual for me. I’ve had it at least twice before, as far as I can remember. It started out last night the way it always does, but then it kept going in a new direction.
I’m standing on a porch of some sort, perhaps the porch of a house. A set of rusty, abandoned railroad tracks run past the house, about 50 feet away. As I watch, a train suddenly appears from off to my right, squealing away down the tracks past the porch. The train is unusual in several respects. First, it is almost twice as tall as a normal train. Second, it does not consist of conventional looking train cars. Instead, the locomotive is pulling a couple of large illuminated billboards. The strange thing is that even though the billboards are huge and well lit, and even though the train isn’t moving very quickly, I can’t seem to make out the lettering or the images on the billboards. As I squint trying to read them, I can’t figure out whether the problem is with my vision, the lighting, or with the billboards themselves. Soon, the train has passed and I no longer have a good angle for viewing them.
That’s where the dream has ended in the past. This time, though, it continued. The train entered a dark tunnel, veered to the right, and disappeared. Intrigued, I jogged down to the tunnel. As I went, I thought something like, “This isn’t right – that tunnel doesn’t lead anywhere.” As I walked through the timber-framed entrance, I noticed a couple of things: the opening was nowhere near large enough to have accommodated that huge train. Also, this couldn’t even be called a tunnel; it was just a small dead-end room with train tracks leading into it. The tracks indeed veered to the right and came to a dead end at a wall covered with cabinets and bookshelves. The cabinets and books, like the rest of the room, were musty and dusty and showed no sign that anything had disturbed them for many years. In spite of the bizarre specter I had just witnessed, there was no feeling of magic or drama to the place; only quiet and stillness. It was plain that whatever I was looking for was not in this room, so I left.
As I turned to head back, I saw something coming down the tracks toward me. At first, I thought it was one of those old two-man hand-pumped train cars, but then I realized it was a bicycle. There was a figure riding it, motionless. As it came nearer, I saw that the figure consisted of a shirt, overalls, and boots, all caked with grime and in the shape of a human, except that there was nothing filling the clothes but air. I stood and watched it pass within a foot of me. When it was about 10 feet past me, it reached out its left leg into the gravel for braking, sending up a cloud of dust in the process. Just as it came to a stop, it dug both boots into the pedals and accelerated away from me, though it did not continue into the musty room but instead continued down a second set of tracks I hadn’t noticed before. I had the distinct impression that the whole boot-braking bit had been done for my benefit, almost as an act of showing-off.
There was yet one final moment. I suddenly saw my friend FP (of whom I have written here on various occasions), walking along the tracks towards me. She was wearing dirty beige coveralls with a small matching cap. A smudge of black grease about the size of a quarter was on her right cheek, glistening as if it had just fallen on her. She looked like she was at the end of a long day of work. I greeted her. She struggled to smile but couldn’t manage to say more than one-syllable responses. I could tell that she hadn’t been expecting to run into me and wished I didn’t have to see her like this. And the dream ended.
So what’s going on here? Is this anything?
Certainly, a good deal of it could be taken as symbols of death and other primal concerns, though I can’t help but think of Scrooge’s words to Marley’s ghost: “…You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you…” And of course, there’s that wonderful quote often attributed to Sigmund Freud (though he probably never said it): “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
I’ve had a few friends over the years who’ve positively salivated at the prospect of interpreting other people’s dreams, so if you’re so inclined, have at it!