Running wildly through a mall: Deconstructing a dream

There is nothing that interests other people less than hearing about the dreams of other people. I know that. Dreams are surreal fantasies that only consist of pieces that matter to the person having them. The most compelling dream to one person will bore the hell out of another.

I’m autistic though. Being interested in things that only I care about is how I live my life. And dreams are a function of the mind to be studied. This blog exists to study my mind. So after two nights of a dream recurring, I thought it’d be useful to take it and fully dissect it.

Image result for hot springs mall

The dream itself is simple. I’m racing through a one-level shopping mall, recognizable as the one in Hot Springs, Arkansas, trying to get out. As I go through the mall, I pass surreal stores such as variants on Kay-Bee and Waldenbooks. There are long stretches of empty space save for carpet and wood paneling. The lighting is a gray void. I’m frustrated.

So let’s take this dream apart. We’ll begin with the setting which works on two levels. On the first, the Hot Springs Mall was a special place to me growing up. It was a magic place with all kinds of neat things to buy. I found many of my “grails” there growing up including the DuckTales the Movie comic book. It’s also an orderly location which works perfectly for the autistic brain to use as a dreamscape.

I’m racing through it. This is a hallmark of dream logic. A location like this isn’t actually hard to get in and out of. It takes 10 minutes to cross if you’re going slowly. The mall has a very simple corridor, a long stretch of stores, one large open area with a fountain and two department stores, then another stretch. It’s simple but I can’t get out. I’m trapped.

What of the stores? It’s telling that in my dreams I don’t see the increasingly sad boutiques that fill it now. I see the bookstore and toy store that are no longer there. Neither has been there in well over 10 years. I don’t even see the candy store or Gamestop I go to. I’m at a point remove from my real life. It’s really telling this isn’t a place I’ve been in over 5 years. I’m not at the mall up the street.

There’s the empty space. This is heavily a detail from the real mall, especially as it decays tragically. But that space is an irony. I could get to what I wanted if I tried. I’m battling air. The lighting reflects my limbo. (The mall itself is the standard warm lighting you’d expect.)

I’m frustrated. Here we come to the center of the dream. I’m struggling with something in my waking life. But what? Well, Lola and Amanda have both been sick for the past week (and still are) and I was sick myself. It hurts me that I can’t help them. I’m scared for them. (I really didn’t care about my own health. I was up in a day.)

So why this prison? Because it’s a safe place. What seems like a dark dream is actually a soothing one. I’m in a place that makes me happy, one that sadly no longer truly exists or will ever exist as it did. I feel secure here. It’s an escape to my childhood.

What I need to conquer in my waking life is my worry. And that I will do. It’ll take time but it will get fixed.

But now I need to sleep.

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