Not long ago, my husband dreamed his arm was severed. He raced around, carrying it from place to place, person to person, dismayed that no one shared his alarm or offered help.
I told him it meant he had an important decision to make, but instead of trusting his own judgment, he sought affirmation from other people. "In a nutshell," I admonished, "quit running around like a man with his arm cut off and do something."
Then, I had an odd dream myself.
The dream opens with me standing in a parking lot in Athens eyeing shopping center storefronts. The outline of the buildings strikes a chord of familiarity. I've been here. I know this place.
But a collection of unrecognizable businesses inhabiting the spaces perplexes me.
My awareness zooms in on a particular establishment. In large, blue, block letters across the top, PACIFIC grabs my attention. Immediately I know it sells exotic fish. Intrigued, I enter.
To my right, behind a curved glass wall, swim silvery-blue, roundish fish. But rather than swimming in water, the fish flit and dart and float in a fine mist.
I turn to my husband, unexpectedly standing beside me, and tell him we must buy one for our nine-year-old son. After purchasing it, I tuck it into a white, paper envelope and exit the store, heavily burdened by the task of delivering it, alive.
My husband disappears, yet I don't feel distressed. But I realize I have to walk all the way home toting the fish in the envelope. Shortly, I begin to think I'll never make it. I'm hot and tired and my legs ache.
And I have traveled in the wrong direction. I find myself on the north campus of the University of Georgia, clutching the envelope and worried about the fish. I feel a profound urge to get it home as soon as possible. My son needs this fish.
As I emerge through the arches onto the wide sidewalk, my husband drives up in a campus bus and opens the doors. Ssssckshhhhhuuuuuhhhh.
Whew, I think to myself. He's going to give me a ride. I smile at him; he smiles at me. I climb on board.
The next thing I know, my husband and I crouch over a low bench in the upstairs hallway of our house. I still have the envelope in my hand and I nervously glance at my husband. It seems like forever that I have carried this specimen.
I slide the fish out of the packet onto the bench. On our knees, we peer at the silvery-blue, flat form, lying motionless.
A wave of distress rips through me. I look at my husband. "It's dead," I say. "I killed it." And I sense how deeply disappointed my son will be.
"No," my spouse reassures me, "it's sleeping." He flicks it with his finger and suddenly it springs to life, flipping and twitching. Not having any mist, and fearful that our other fish in the aquarium will harm it, or that it will drown in too much water, I retrieve a spotless, colorless, transparent glass goblet with a very wide mouth, a long stem, and a flat bottom. It holds the cleanest, clearest water I've ever seen.
We put the fish in and it swims.
I woke up, relieved.
Now, when my beloved related his nocturnal musings about seeking a brain transplant, I quickly cleared up his bewilderment over it (duh!). But I'm a fish out of water when it comes to deciphering the message in my own dream.