“[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.


Emily said...

Very interesting...you've given me some things to mull over. That is such a big phrase.

QT said...

I really like this post because I could picture your dreamscape perfectly(I often try to describe my dreams and REALLY fail)and it feels very familiar (too many foreign movies??)

That is a very heavy statement, and how fortunate you forced yourself to write it down. I am not in your space yet as far as marriage is concerned. I am still finding myself.

Anonymous said...

About ten years into our marriage, I remember walking across a parking lot with my husband, having some sort of discussion, when he said, "I consider it my mission in life to make you happy." His tone was warm and light, he had his arm draped over my shoulders, but it was clear he wasn't just tossing those words out there for my amusement. They meant something to him.

And I remember thinking that might have been the most romantic thing he had ever said to me, and yet the words also disturbed me: "the enormity of being responsible for another person's life..."

Trouble said...

I think this is a beautiful post. That is the kind of relationship I want, also.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you wrote this, gorgeous. My husband and I do depend on each other, and through it we show that "need" isn't the dirty word it is often thought to be. It makes me sad that in our society, we are taught that interdependence is wrong and shameful, even though it is one of the most natural things on earth.

thailandchani said...

Ditto Mo. She said it all.



Anonymous said...

Interesting, the first thing that came to mind when I read the line from your play was a quote from Dostoevsky. After my mom read Brothers Karamazov, she wrote a line from the book and posted it on the refrigerator: "We are each responsible to everyone for everything." Or something very close to that. It was on that refrigerator for decades, may still be there today. It became one of those things I stopped noticing.

So, at least in my mind, you have this Russian connection ... again ... only his concept is worse than you propose ... it's not the enormity of being responsible for another person's life ... it's everyone's life ... whether you are married or not ... and I think you, DeeZee, really do think and act with that responsibility in many ways. May the dependence and freedom in your next partnership help ease the enormity of that!

fringes said...

Very well put. I loved the questions and the answers. Excellent job of remembering dream dialogue.