I have a repertoire of recurring dreams, which is to say that they differ in the details, but have a consistent theme. One of these is the "moving into the dorm for a new year of college" dreams. These generally appeal to my anxiety... I'm always an RA, so I'm worried about who the problem residents are, whether or not the lock on my door is secure, when I'm on duty, how to get my class schedule, whether or not the Internet works (which wasn't even a thing when I was in school), etc.
Last night, I had the dream again, but it was curiously optimistic and translated into an adult setting with overlapping and illogical timelines. It started as many of these dreams do, with me trying to make-out with someone I just met. This actually occurred 50% of the time, so that part is realistic at least. Then I met up with a bunch of guys who were people I worked with at various jobs, including my current job, where I've not met anyone in real life, and I was coaching them for volleyball. The location was more the Microsoft campus than Ashland University. I walked into a group gathering that was residence life people having their first meeting, where I was supposed to be, at which time I had told Simon he had to go off on his own. Yeah, my kid was in it... told you the timelines didn't make sense.
What was different about the dream though is that, while it did connect back to a little anxiety, it was mostly tied to the feelings of new beginnings and possibilities. When I look back at school, honestly I enjoyed it half the time at best, but the start of a new year was ripe with potential. New people, new classes, a step closer to "the real world..." it felt like you could make it into whatever you wanted. It was a feeling of hope and excitement.
In adulthood, it seems like we rarely have those kinds of moments. The closest thing I can think of is when you move, and by move, I mean out-of-state. I definitely had those feelings moving to Seattle and Central Florida. Maybe having a child is like that, but you're so exhausted most of the time that you don't feel much else. A new job might be like that for some, but not for me. Not even getting married carries that excitement, since at that point, the biggest change is how you file your taxes.
The manifestation of this dream in this particular case brings some serious realizations. The first is that all of the situations in the dream I approached with experience and wisdom, neither of which you have when you go away to school in real life. I get caught up in the realization that midlife means you're about equidistant from wearing diapers to wearing diapers again, but while learning is a lifelong endeavor, we're definitely better equipped to handle life than we are two decades prior. The other big thing is that change does bring opportunity. Maybe it's the timing of the election, but with rampant and emboldened racism, failing government, a global pandemic, climate change, the bar for things getting better is certainly not high. There's reason for cautious optimism.