Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Missing Stroller

The Dream:
I'm at a theatrical fund raiser. The event hasn't started. I've brought a friend's baby stroller as a donation. I had admired it, and she said she was going to get rid of it, so I offered to bring it to this worthy cause.

The event isn't well organized. I wander about trying to figure out who to give the stroller to. I decide to leave it near a downward spiraling ramp while I make some inquiries. I wonder if someone might run off with it, but reject the idea. Who would take a baby stroller?

Of course when I return, someone has. I am anxious, wondering how I'll explain this to my friend. I look everywhere, hoping the stroller will turn up. It doesn't, and I find out the organization wouldn't have accepted it in any case. Now my dilemma: am I obligated to buy my friend a new stroller? I don't want to, and I rationalize that she was going to junk it anyway—yet I feel replacing it is the right thing to do. I rehearse how I'll break the news to her, shortening the time of my absence, (“I turned my back for a moment and it was gone.”) and neglecting to mention I had entertained the possibility it might be stolen. (“I was shocked to find it gone.”) Despite these adjustments to reality, I can't get over feeling I should replace what I have lost.

Later this friend and I are at the fund raiser. In an inner sanctum the trope performs while we lounge like Romans in what looks like a city storefront. We're lined up perpendicular to the window on mattresses placed directly on the floor. I offer to replace the darn stroller, although I still don't feel I should have to. A big, heavy man is on my right; my friend on my left. At some point the man, about the size and girth of Doc Martin on TV, rolls over onto me in such a way that I fall off my mattress and am directly on the floor, with him partially on top of me. I complain, and he gives me a coupon to his restaurant and leaves. I study this list of freebies carefully, realizing that I can take someone with me--the coupon is a twofer.

Interpretation: This dream highlights a conflict between strolling around (taking it easy) and fulfilling my obligations. In the beginning I try to combine the two by donating my easy-going self (the stroller) to a good cause. In this misguided effort the easy-going self is taken away and, worse, I'm left with the moral dilemma of feeling I have to replace what wasn't wanted in the first place. I try to get around the problem by misrepresenting my responsibility for what happened, but that doesn't work either. When I finally face up to my responsibility by offering to replace what I've lost I'm ready to face one final challenge. A big, heavy (and grumpy—if he's anything like Doc Martin) man pushes me off the soft, comfortable spot (the mattress) and weighs me down. This man, situated to my right, symbolizes all the law and order, rules and must-do's that I've internalized. My complaint is a cry for freedom, and he responds by giving it to me (freebies). That the gift is a twofer tells me that not only can I (the responsible one) be nourished at his restaurant, but I can bring my inner stroller as well.

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