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Directly above me, the sun is playing hide and seek with the few gray clouds and decides to shine its cheerful face straight into my eyes. I wince again. The too-small polyester shirt I have on is riding halfway up my torso and the rough surface I'm lying on scratches my bare skin. I sit up and immediately regret it; vertigo overwhelms my entire body. I glance down and place my hand on the asphalt tiles. Am I on a roof? I'm on a roof! I shift my gaze towards the edge, about ten feet away, but can't see much. The sun's glare makes the world around me appear blank, and my brain cannot distinguish my surroundings. I rub my eyes and am finally able to focus on what's around me. I carefully step toward the edge and peer at the ground, about five stories below: scary high. I see plenty of grass that looks too green and an arrangement of trees and bushes that look artificial. The scene looks plastic, like something out of a child's toy box. I turn around to explore some more, but stumble over something small at my feet. I catch myself, avoiding a possible plummet to the ground below, then spin around to face the culprit. At my bare feet lies a pair of stunning red satin stilettos. I am drawn to them, and after taking off my own sandals, I sit down to slip each of my feet into the delicate scarlet straps. They fit! I want to stand up and strut, but foolishly remember that I'm on a roof, fifty feet high. I break out of my girlish euphoria and become even more aware of my surroundings. More shoes! Everywhere! I spy knee-high leather boots, worn Chuck Taylors, silky ballet slippers, a new pair of baby blue running shoes. I feel like I absolutely have to try all of them on, so I do. Every shoe fits perfectly; I feel like Cinderella, minus the handsome prince and magic pumpkins. I remove the last shoe and clutch it in my hand as I
stand up. Suddenly, a bizarre feeling overcomes me and before I know what I'm doing, I chuck the green sneaker as far as I can, into the plastic scenery before me. It's thrilling. I grab another victim and drop it over the edge. I can't figure out why, but I'm throwing all the footwear off of the roof and it feels important. The experience is almost refreshing. I finally get to the very last pair of shoes: the seductive stilettos. These ones are harder to let go. I slowly run my finger over the silky edges, wrap the rest of my fingers around the heels, and toss them high into the azure sky. The roof is spotless. Satisfied, I stretch out onto the roof again and allow the sun’s rays to sink into my skin and a smile to creep across my face. I doze off. I am thrown back into consciousness by a dozen whiney beeps from my alarm clock. I sit up and find myself not on top of a five-story building, but lying in the cozy folds of my bed at home, not a shoe in sight. This is my only reoccurring dream, which I’ve had three times. The first time I dreamt about The Shoes, two years ago, it just seemed silly. I thought, “I’m on a roof…with shoes….. weird!” It was simple and comical, and I forgot about it not long after. My second encounter with this dream, nearly a year later, confused me. I knew then that it had to mean something, but I couldn’t figure it out. Just recently, when I had this dream a third time, I was shocked. However, this time I knew for sure that my unconscious brain was trying to insist something and all the clues were clear to me. My dream was brimming with symbols. The dream starts off with pain, in my eyes and on my bare back. This represents any despair or unhappiness in my life. Right around the first time I had this dream, I was in the midst of constant battle with my family, heartache, pessimism about my future, and weariness with my lifestyle. A couple years ago, I rarely got along with both my mother and my sister; we
always fought. I was tired of them (they are the worn-out shoes that were beginning to hurt my feet) and I didn't want them anymore. My trial with my family is significant in my dream because it seems to be revealed through both my physical pain and the termination of the shoes. Also, I noticed in my dream that in the beginning the sun and roof cause me discomfort, but in the end I am comfortable and blithe. This is a fundamental sign. In the beginning I am discontent with pieces of my life, but after I change a few things, I am content. A high roof symbolizes the unsteadiness in my personality and my fear of failure. I can’t walk easily on the roof without being afraid of falling, just as I am not always able to do many things in my life without being afraid of failing. If I were stronger and more confident, I would have a more stable personality (and in my dream, I would probably be closer to the ground). Sometimes I feel as if I’m not always true to myself. This is where the plastic scenery in my dream plays its role. It isn't natural. I often let what other people think affect me too much, rather than just being exactly who I really am all the time. I always tell myself I don't care what other people think and that I'm myself and I love that, but now I'm not so sure that's true. Sometimes I'm a reproduction, an imitation, of what I believe other people want me to be. I want to be more genuine and rid my personal world of any fake persona that isn't one-hundred percent me: "plastic." The shoes. They are the people or things in my life that I lean on through my life’s journey: my crutches. Every one is unique and used for a different purpose. For instance, the red heel, which signifies love and passion, is the one I care about the most and can’t keep myself away from; at this point in my life, my boyfriend. I am fairly puzzled at my elated banishment of
all the shoes on my roof, because I don't want to purge my world of all the people I care about and count on. What does this mean, then? Independence; full control of my thoughts, my emotions, my actions, my life. I have always had this control, I just don’t always allow myself to be self-reliant. My unconscious mind didn’t get it quite right, though. I can't live without my beautiful red stilettos (I can finally let my boyfriend completely into my heart to be able to help me) and I absolutely love my good ol' worn sneakers (I can't imagine hating my sister and mom now). I don’t need to chuck my shoes off the roof, but I can walk barefoot more often, shoes in hand. Sigmund Freud believed that in wish fulfillment, he had discovered a major motivating source of dreams. This idea applies to my dream perfectly. In my dream I am fulfilling my wishes to leave behind my dependency by throwing the shoes off the roof. Paul Lippmann agrees with Freud and describes it clearly, “For some, the nightmare of daily life can only cease in sleep and dreams. In dreams, wishes for a happier time and off moments of solace can be realized....My guess is that as life circumstances become more brutal, the wish-fulfilling aspect of dreams becomes more important, as compensation (Lippmann, Nocturnes 15).” Lippmann is saying that when something in your life becomes difficult, your dreams try to atone for the misery and need by balancing it with something happier, or even finding a solution to the problem at large. My next step in my life is to fulfill my wishes in my dream, to some extent. I will not be as harsh as my unconscious mind desires. I can, however, step forward independently and become a stronger individual to battle the pain, instability, and demands of life, always knowing
that I have helping hands (and feet!) when I need them. Just like in my dream, I can relax and let the sun shine on me. I don’t think I’ll be having this dream again. And, for the record, I’ll be keeping my favorite shoes around. I may even do some more shoe-shopping.
Works Cited Freud, Sigmund. "The Oedipus Complex." A World of Ideas. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006. Lippmann, Paul. "Wishes and Dreams." Nocturnes: On Listening to Dreams. The Analyctic Press, Inc., Publishers, 2000.
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