I had two dreams the other night with recurring themes. In the first, we were having a World Affairs Council reunion at our house. Except it wasn’t just WAC members, it was everyone who had impacted my life in the last seven years, crowded into and around our front yard, grilling burgers under the night sky and drinking punch beside a giant bonfire. It was a tense affair because the new WAC members felt threatened and intimidated by the old WACcers, afraid we’d come back and take over or something, while the alumni just reminisced about the good old days and how much fun we had.
The second dream was long and involved, but included a trip to my high school auditorium. While wandering up and down the rows of wooden seats, the backs of the chairs suddenly started to catch fire as if someone had smeared oil along the tops of them and tossed a match. I calmly bent down, blowing on the chairs to put the fire out, working my way along the aisles to make sure all the flames were put to rest.
If you ever do a Google search for the meaning of fire in dreams, you’ll probably find yourself as frustrated as I was because dream analysis is all a bunch of bologne. Apparently, fire can mean pretty much anything in a dream (surprised?), but there was a theme picked up by all the different articles. Though the writers observed that fire can be positive or negative, destructive or life-bringing, comforting or threatening, it was also often linked with destroying or cutting ties to one’s past. That, or an inability to do so.
I’ve had a reversal of fortunes in the last six years of college in regards to my memory. When I began college, I had very poor short-term memory, to the extent that I would often forget conversations while having them, couldn’t keep appointments, and had to write everything down to remember anything. I got lost because I couldn’t recall directions, and I had trouble with just about everything. But sometime during my freshman year, my memory drastically improved (which is a story for another time). Since then, it has continued improving, and now I remember pretty much everything. I haven’t gone to the complete opposite end of the spectrum (just like my memory was never completely non-existant), but I do remember more than most people I think.
I remember specific feelings, able to almost relive them, and I remember entire conversations, their twists and turns. I still can’t quote movies all that well, but that’s because I never try to remember movies. In general, I can now look back over the last decade and put just about everything together in my mind.
This means that I can’t let anything go, though, and while I’m much better at keeping myself from dwelling on sorrow and loss (having let it go emotionally, at least), I can’t forget any of those experiences.
But really, I don’t want to. I treasure the memories with fondness, and I am glad that I can look back and remember exactly what it was like to be somewhere or do something. It helps keep me from yearning for the past, or from putting it on a pedestal. My memory keeps me firmly grounded in reality.
No, I don’t want to burn those memories, or forget where I came from. But just because that bridge is there, that doesn’t mean I want to cross back over it either. I’m happy just to know it exists.