“[Of course we make jokes about marriage because] the enormity of being responsible for another person’s life [devastates us.] ”
The lead-in was vague, drifting away. Maybe less important, maybe swept up in ethereal dream movement unwilling to wait for me to focus. The tag equally so. But the middle part, ‘the enormity of being responsible for another person’s life’ might as well have been tattooed on my forearm, those words refusing to be forgotten.
I woke up in heart-thumping panic because an actor on stage had spoken this phrase in my dream, and it was as if it had to be remembered. Two of us exiting the play commented on the line because it spoke to us so deeply.
I have no idea why.
Sunrise hours away, I insist on writing down the words telling myself, “Do this now. Do not go back to sleep first.” I am certain I am plagiarizing, remembering something rather than mining my own thoughts, because when have I ever used the phrase ‘the enormity of’? Sitting in the dark, I actually think, “Do I use the word ‘enormity’?”
But I want to listen to my dreams and my passionate response because when dreams wake you up, they want your attention. Yet I don’t know about his phrase. Where does it come from? What does it say?
The dreamscape is a faux European land of concrete and trains and underground passages. Lots of underground passages. Hued by overhead greenish lights and ticket takers in tollbooth cubicles. I miss a train, get on the next, and then travel too far. I’m not alone. Some mystery friend is by my side.
‘the enormity of being responsible for another person’s life’
I am responsible for my son, but he does not live in this dream. The mystery companion? An appendage whose resonance fades upon waking.
My husband and I lived our marriage as two very independent people. Too independent. Safely detached. We found in each other exactly what we needed: another who let us be free. Too free. We weren’t trapped in each other. We were barely tethered. Too free.
I’ve wondered if marriage and I will have a reunion. For the me who is now, it would have to be different. I’d infuse the vows with some dependence, with the freedom to need the other, to trust such needing wasn’t needy, to proclaim a responsibility for each other’s life. An enormous declaration. In a good way. For it would be by choice. The enormity of being responsible for another person’s life: a commitment to love that deeply.
Unless my dream returns to comment, I can only pretend this to be the message. Or, I can choose it to be.