the school dream

i was recently reminded of this (damn, i forget where), this recurring dream i had for a good twenty years. i’m back at school, usually high school. i don’t know where i’m supposed to go, or i’ve forgotten where my locker is, or i show up to class utterly unprepared — i know nothing! and there is a test! in most of these dreams, i’ve also forgotten some vital item of clothing, pants for instance, or sometimes i’m totally nude, trying to cover up with whatever unlikely thing was handy: bushes, books, scraps of things. naked in school! again and again.

twenty years of this. and i end up in an internship program through the local community college, almost three years ago. taking a couple classes, visual basic and intro computer science, and working as an apprentice webmistress at the company i’m still working for.

my life was a mess, i was a complete and utter flake, and it’s a miracle i still have this job, but i digress. in any case, i knew when the first day of school was, and i should have gotten decent sleep that night, but did not. i woke up late, leapt into my clothes, and headed to the campus, hoping i’d somehow find my way around, using only the odd memory abilities i’ve developed over years of disorganization. i tend to remember images of things, not photographic, but something like that. maybe like a visually phonetic memory. works better than you’d think, with exceptions, of course.

yes, it was only a community college, but the freakin’ campus was enormous, much bigger than i’d imagined even though i’ve lived in this area forever and i know, i know how huge it is. big. i’d hoped i’d see something that would would ring the mnemonic bell in my mind, but no. so, i was lost. and i’d forgotten my paper of what classes i was in, hell, i didn’t even have a pen let alone a notebook. thank goodness i remembered to wear pants. i was actually rather well dressed for the occasion, i looked like i belonged there, just a little older than most of the others, but still. i had the fashion aspect down.

but i was lost. and i panicked. i found the admissions office. it was late august, i had just walked several miles in circles, hyperventilating. i’m sure the stench of fear was upon me. in hysterical, hiccuping breaths i babbled to the first person behind the first desk ?i’ve had this dream a thousand times, i go back to school and i don’t know where i’m supposed to be and i don’t even have a pen and…?

the nice lady didn’t call the psychiatric assesment team, didn’t hit the security emergency button, didn’t make light of my predicament. in calm tones, she assured me that it would, indeed, be ok, and looked up my schedule on the computer. she handed me a printout, and when i went on about the no paper/not even a pen issue, she assured me that first days were not heavy on note-taking, but still handed me a nice legal pad and a pen. she gave me directions to the building i was already supposed to be in class in, and off i went.

i was so late at that point that my i missed my first day of my first class. it got better after that, thankfully.

and i never had the dream again.

12 thoughts on “the school dream

  1. So you started programming just three years ago? That’s great. You’ve done well. Education is a great thing, and I hope mine never stops.

    Just passing through…

  2. actually, i had to take the class twice, and i dropped out both times, the first time because of my hand surgery and the second because i needed to work more hours. everything i know, i learned by getting a job doing it.

    when i said “it got better after that” what i meant was, “there’s a happy ending, sort of, just not one that fits”.

  3. I’m still having that dream. Does that mean I have to sign up for school and then miss class the first day in order to stop the madness?

  4. it’s not as simple as just missing class. you have to experience the same feelings as the dream — the panic, the shame, the fear. it was all so deja-vu, and so surreal because it was deja-vu from something that’s not supposed to be real.

    very disconcerting.

  5. When I find that I am dreaming and I am in a situation without pants, I don’t panic at all. In fact, I feel much more relaxed without pants in such situations. I know it’s a dream, and to turn the tables on others and confront them with my pants-less state of existence is a relief, not a horror.

    That’s when the screaming bands of maniacs with pitchforks appear in my dreams. I knew I should have cut back on the garlic and anchovies.

  6. ack! i have that dream too. only i’m at least wearing a long shirt so i have to walk “just so” so nothing shows. i’m usually starting late too, meaning everyone has been going to school for a few days a head of me. i can’t figure out my locker, i can’t find my classes. it’s just awful. i know the panic and fear that you mention.


  7. thank goodness i remembered to wear pants

    You know, somehow I thought sure you were goint to tell us that SOMETHING was missing. ;-))

    Sounds like a good thing, though, that you have not had the dream since. Phew!

  8. in all my back to school dreams, like the one posted today, i’m bitter and angry. almost furious. i hated my classmates; hated my teachers. home life sucked. school life sucked. everyone was religious and i wasn’t. i could go on. lots of taunting, teasing, plain out meanness. ostracism. i think that’s why i have these dreams about going back to school and telling people off. i have to get it out somehow, right?

  9. is that where i was reminded of this? ahh, my memory is not good.

    but yeah, school dreams are common because school is so traumatic for so many of us. i like your take on the subject, going back to tell people off.

    must file that under, things i can code next time i get the dream browser with the rewritable source. those are my favorite dreams.

  10. I have some strange dreams as well. Some of them scare the crap out of me and stick with me for a while. What is it with those damn school dreams, though?

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