Early this morning — around 3 a.m. in fact — I started my new job as a tax preparer. I went out into the busy waiting room and asked, “Who’s next?” A tall man in the front row eagerly raised his hand. It was Ronald Reagan.
I tried not to let my disappointment show on my face while racking my brain for a way out. I could pretend I hadn’t seen him. I could announce that we were closing for lunch. Or I could just quit. But in the end, I knew that I had no choice. I gave him a nod and we walked back to the cubicles.
I asked him if he’d like a more private office, and I was overcome with pangs of guilt for doing so. Why was I giving him royal treatment? I should just treat him like everyone else, I told myself. But it was too late. My co-workers had gotten wind of our special client, and they were hustling to vacate the director’s office so that we could use it. We entered the cushy room with its mahogany desk and velvet chairs, and sat down across from each other.
Suddenly, Reagan pulled out a ragged old newspaper with a shocking headline and risqué photograph of a woman. He thought it was hilarious. I told him that he was being inappropriate. Then I mustered up the courage to say that I really didn’t think I should be doing his taxes, because it was my first day on the job, and I’d never prepared anyone’s taxes before. “And besides,” I said, pausing for effect and looking him straight in the eye, “I’m not at all a Trump supporter!”
Reagan wasn’t fazed at all. He still wanted me to do his taxes, but first, we had to do his laundry. So down into the basement we went. I don’t even remember how we got there, but suddenly we were standing in front of an old washer and dryer in a dark, musty basement, filling up the tub with his dirty clothes. I turned on the machine and almost immediately flooded the basement. Realizing that we were standing in six inches of water, we abandoned our project and rushed toward the stairs. Once safe on the first floor, I pulled out my cell phone, called my mother, and asked her to help.
And then I woke up.
It’s only a dream, I thought with relief. And whatever you do, I told myself, do NOT close your eyes and go back to sleep!
Once fully awake, I tried to analyze the symbols in my dream. New Job. Taxes. Dirty Laundry. Flood. Ronald Reagan. What was my dream trying to tell me?
My first attempt at dream analysis resulted in the following possibilities:
- New Job = I just started a new “career” (retirement).
- Taxes = Identification with my father (who worked for the IRS).
- Dirty Laundry = Scandals in the presidency.
- Flood = Trickle-down economics.
- Ronald Reagan = See Flood.
All of that made sense. But then it hit me. Last night, just before bed, I’d been practicing my guitar for the first time in a while. One of the songs I played was “American Dreamer,” something I wrote in 2009, right after the American housing bubble burst. (You can listen to it here.) The song tells the tale of someone who got in over his head because he believed what the banks and the real estate developers were telling him. He’d purchased a home with a balloon mortgage and then had lost his job and his home. People were blaming him for being greedy, but he says his mistake was following someone else’s dream.
So on a deeper level, my dream might symbolize what happens when you’ve gone along with the crowd and then are faced with a dilemma. Do you continue to follow the rules, despite your beliefs, or do you stand up to authority? Because if you don’t, you may find yourself in hot water. With Ronald Reagan.
I once dreamed that Bill Clinton kissed me on the cheek. Luckily, I did not have sexual relations with that man. I haven’t had any Obama dreams yet, although that would be nice. I wouldn’t even try to wake up!