Dream of Impending Test Failure
It is black predawn. I’m in the tiny duplex Kurt and I moved into right after we married, or mostly. I’m pressing iced coffee, in a rush because I have a calculus test at the community college at 9 a.m. I’ve forgotten I had to take this test. Or is it that I’ve avoided studying for it and now plan to cram for it for a mere three hours? Why am I taking calculus? Why am I in community college, which is rather much of a demotion after having earned a PhD. Except my PhD is in English? I never was fast at math. A mean high school teacher scared me into believing that I could not do math.
I’m middle-aged, but Kurt is young here in our apartment, as he was when we married. I ask him, “Kurt, what should I do – I’m not ready for this test?” He tells me to sick out and take the make-up test. I say, “I cannot pretend to be sick, because that would be lying and I despise lying.” He sighs and says, “Well, I guess you gotta fail, then, and I guess you gotta ask a nonliar for advice.”
Now I’m standing over by the sofa in the living room of our apartment. I’m thinking of the calculus teacher. She is a woman in her thirties, rather plain, slim, with short brown hair. I am conjuring up a way to get out of the test failure without lying. Suddenly, I’m lying naked on the carpet, beside the sofa, on my back. The calculus teacher is lying on her side, also completely naked, with me in her embrace. But she didn’t choose to be there. She says, “I’m not attracted to you sexually.” She smiles and is friendly. She just vanishes.
Now I’m suddenly fully clothed, with coffee in hand and standing behind an Asian man working math problems at my desk. Is this Trungpa? Is this Geshe-la? I’m looking at the problems over his shoulder. I ask if he can tutor me, but he shushes and ignores me, saying only, “You didn’t study, and now is too late to begin.”
Now I’m walking out the back door of the duplex and find myself on the deck of my current home. I see that the neighbors’ hollies have grown monstrous, invasive, and are overshadowing my deck. I chide myself for having let the yard go neglected. But instead of going for the clippers, I realize that my hands can reach all the way up to the towering branches and just pull them down and tuck them under the rail. This is a false appearance of pruning, but at least it is fast and easy.
Is this a form of lying, of getting out of work? I’m back in the apartment. Kurt says, “You should sick out from the test.” He explains, “It is almost 9 a.m. and you really are sick, or will be when you get a headache because you have not had any rest during this dream.”
Then I awoke. It was 9 a.m.