dream journal

years ago I used to write down nearly all my dreams, and it’s a habit I’d like to return to. here’s an attempt.

I dreamt of driving beside the ocean with a family, in a car with the top down, or in the bed of a pickup truck, or in some kind of motorized cart that could go 70 no problem. The wind blowing through our hair and our view uninterrupted.

The family was not related to me, but I’d gotten attached to them somehow, through marriage or adoption or exchange or apprenticeship. I remember few details but the mother’s hair was thick and straight and very dark and I wondered if she, like my mother, had been dying her hair since the ‘80s.

The road wound around the coastline, and suddenly we saw a humpback whale leap out of the water. I remember thinking to myself with shock, how is there a whale in the lake? For a brief moment I had thought I was home in Chicago, driving along Lake Shore Drive, until my brain processed the fact that there are no humpback whales in Lake Michigan (although after waking I have discovered the strange world of people dedicated to whale watching in the Great Lakes, posting photographs of little bumps in the waves) and that I was in a new place. Maybe it was California, maybe it was Japan, maybe it was nowhere in particular, but I was far from the Midwest.

After the single humpback whale, suddenly the sea was so very alive. Hundreds and then thousands of seals appeared, some seemingly carried to this stretch of shore in the backs of small whales. Our vehicle took flight, became a little plane, and we circled over the water, over the vast congregation of seals headed for the shore. Then we returned to the road and pulled over, and I scrambled down the beach alone, a little way past where everything was happening. I moved along the shore until I reached a rock formation like a doorway, and through it I could see the stretch of beach. I stood there watching seals pour towards the shore, carried by humpbacks or by their own smooth and graceful swimming. People were starting to gather on the beach, astounded. And then, as the seals began to reach land, suddenly there were men in monk’s robes, standing between the small crowd on the beach and the animals emerging from the sea. They walked just within the water, it lapping on their ankles, and they began to usher everyone away. And then appeared figures that I think were human, but wearing long black robes and tall masks that covered their faces and bodies completely, and made them look seven feet tall, with long white lines drawn down the black material. I suddenly felt very afraid, like I was trespassing, like I was witnessing a secret that could not be witnessed without consequence, and so I turned and ran back to the road.