Oneiric worlds: a [cheesy] pleasant dream

Little do dreams know how heavily they influence our state of mind. Turmoil filled my ordinary, woken up life, and everyone around me preferred to diverge their attention from me rather than to interact with the poisonous woman who would throw acid-filled words.

Days like that, or rather nights, require an immersive quantity of literature to take the mind from the roots of unpleasantry, to deepen into the soothing fictional worlds that, unlike our so-called real world, do not seem to feel as broken. And so did I, jumping into comic after comic of a very beloved series, and sooner than later, as if carried away by both the imagery and the word craft, I fell asleep.

Dreams tend to be hectic. Incongruity meets the past and more often than not, fears and faults are a regular cast on their script. But what about this dream of yesterday?

I remember I was in grandma’s small home in the heart of our hometown, and a big family gathering was going on; fuchsia was the default color and there were several of my uncles and cousins, and the first was young and strong whereas the late were little again. The general sensation was that of the magic of the early Christmas celebrations, for the gathering felt joyful, though its motive — the essence of its reason to be — remained a mystery to me.

We jumped scene.

I was back again in Ciudad de México, a city where I spent a whole Summer living with my friends. We were all interns for a Summer Program of Research with several universities.

Nonetheless, this time I was there with a cousin I shared most of my early and college years and some of his closest classmates. We were in some sort of amusement park-casino, where you could gamble and buy all kinds of things using a currency of their own. I remember I wanted to leave the building, which had open skies and all sorts of stores and themes, but my cousin insisted we should try at least a couple of more slot machines. So, I went to a counter and exchanged a bit more money; I remember I had a big silver coin which I knew would be worthy of something.

Past and present were the same, and I carried my stuff in the very worn-out bag I used for college. All of a sudden, the amusement park-casino transformed a bit and as it would have been the strangest thing in the “awaken” world, but for the oneiric realm it was as natural as breathing air. It was no longer an amusement park-casino, but the whole building now held the quarters of some of the UNAM’s departments and centers of study.

I was so thrilled I started to go on and on, visiting one place and then another when I just knew the place I should visit for I felt it in my heart. For some reason, my oneiric self wasn’t so keen on using doors, so I entered a beautiful tree-floored room through a window, which led me to the interior of the Linguistics Department. And as soon as I entered through the window, a presence scolded me for coming in unnoticed, as if trying to hide. She was a fairly beautiful lady, who resembled a lot of this character I admired so when I was in college (a deadly assassin in the look for revenge for her and her unborn child). She was so beautiful, that I felt a bit intimidated.

And as soon as I tried to try and explain my motives for going in that was, she pulled her attention from the journal she was writing in and started asking me how would I translate this and this phrase. Oh, was I nervous! I hesitated several times and offered whatever translation I saw suitable, but she would frown more than show satisfaction. She also showed a kinder side to herself by granting me some retro on my translations and just when I was engaging in the exercise, some woman in the lower level of the room spoke that her lecture was about to begin. The woman (whose name I cannot seem to hold on to right now) felt as if she wanted to stay a bit longer with me also, but the lecture was about to begin, and she was supposed to be there, as she was a student of that department.

Suddenly, my cousin and his classmates entered the room through the door, as if they were on tour through the facilities, and I told her: “That’s my party (and as I said that, I felt how the woman loved that I used that phrasing instead of any other, for somehow she knew that in video games slang, saying “party” is the same as referring to your ally-friends), I have to go”.

And so we parted ways. We wandered around the amusement-casino-university building and got to use some of my coins, though my mind was left in the Linguistics department. The facility resembled now one of those lab scenarios of Resident Evil 2, with rooms having more than one floor, those being connected through central skylights.

At some point, I went by the Linguistics building once more, longing for what was going on there. I left disappointed. She was nowhere to be found. Not three steps into the distance, the woman found me, as I felt she was looking purposely for me. We started chatting, and I could feel we were joyful for having met once more. She told me she was a translator of a language related to Ukrainian and German (which I cannot remember now) into English and Spanish, and I tried to make conversation speaking my little German, to which she was half annoyed and smiley, maybe due to my ignorance of her Mother Language but my also good intentions to try to approach her culture.

I told her I was an apprentice translator as well and that I was looking into formalizing my studies. As we walked, we had to sort all kinds of people and situations and at one point, a janitor was cleaning the floor, and I jumped to the left in order to avoid stepping into his sweeping, but I landed on the woman’s foot and I felt terribly, terribly ashamed. But she seemed to be fine, and it wasn’t of importance to her — the sensation of anxiety was there, the same my not oneiric self is constantly having, was ever so present as I messed up clumsily; and though I fear, both in dreams and in real life, to embarrass myself, it wasn’t so bad after all: this woman was more interested in conversing about a poet she loved so, and she wondered where she could get a book from him rather than focusing on my usual clumsy self.

She mentioned Matsuo Basho and my heart jumped with joy — anxiety, who? I had my favorite copy of Oku no Hosomichi with me, so I pulled it out of my old bag, whose contents were only the book, my water bottle, and a lot of dried fruits and seeds scattered at its bottom. She would mind that the book has raisins here and there, yet at that moment I felt we connected deeply (even beyond my mess). She ran towards the linguistics department, assuring me she would look for me. I knew she would, I could feel it in my heart.

I wandered more, spending my last coins in trifles but always keeping that last, silver coin. Now I was against leaving, but my cousin and his classmates were nowhere to be found… not that I was worried about them: my mind was dwelling on the debacle of spending yet another coin in those machines with a claw, where you could try to obtain a toy as a prize. Before I could made-up my mind, the woman came with a big smile all over her face and eyes. She was grateful for the book and wanted to return the favor. She told me she had convinced the director of the department to take me up for examination and, if I passed the exam, I could stay there and study to become a translator.

“Hold up, what?”, am I right?! Two of her friends were with her, and she had told them about me. They were very welcoming and warm, and as we walked towards the department, they would teach me quick yet substantial lessons on linguistics and translations and other things of the sort. We arrived at the department and instead of going to the lower levels, we went up high to the roof, where the Linguistics department café was. They ordered an Americano for me, and seeing the sky once more above me felt as reassuring as I had felt anxious before. It was covered with puffed clouds and the chill was so welcoming. Then I saw the teacher. She resembled the translator of a Japanese-Spanish poem I had a masterclass with not long ago, and her being a woman made felt sure about myself. I don’t know how dreams work, though. Now that I am becoming aware of how “cheesy” this dream is becoming I get a bit embarrassed, which only lefts me wondering how real dreams can be too. When they happen, they’re all there is, isn’t it?

The professor saw me and smiled, as if knowing I wasn’t up to the standards, but she was kind enough to carry on the test without saying a word about it. When she interviewed me about my courses, I started off with the Summer I had spent in Ciudad de Mexico with my friends, in which I was an intern in IBERO’s Literature for Children Program. I felt connected to the woman and her friends (even a crushed them a bit, admittedly), and the doctor nodded. The examination carried on, I can’t really recall now what happened.

But I didn’t pass the test. Embarrassing myself in front of a crush and failing utterly at achieving my dreams. Was I supposed to name this some sort of daily life nightmare? Nah.

The professor told me I had what it took, I just needed to prepare better for the next time, for it would be the next. The woman hugged me after the doctor’s words, her friends clapped in awe, and I felt quite assured after having a goal. I felt I had a motive now, I had something to look forward to, and the woman being there, made me feel something nice boiling in my stomach.

At some point after that, I woke up. And it is curious how I noticed, in the midst of the early morning’s dim light, that I woke up with a smile.

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Isabel A Hermosillo

Isabel A Hermosillo

Writer, saunterer, and tea contemplator. Stories get tangled among my hair and take the form of writings, poems and photography. Bilingual zealot.