For the last two nights, I’ve had the same dream where I don’t have enough credits to graduate from college. Somehow after all this time, I realize I’ve completely forgotten to take math and science courses, and now I’m not going to be able to graduate. And the thing about the dream is it has been really intense — nightmarish even. I’m so OH MY GOD FREAKING OUT I’M NEVER GRADUATING in the dream, and when I wake up, it’s pure relief that the last ten years have passed.
Ten years. Yes, I did, in fact, still graduate ten years ago. Phew. I graduated when I was twenty-three years old. I felt old then, but I was dramatic then, too. I was on the six-year plan, as I used to joke somewhat sheepishly. I deferred life — not out of anything exciting like partying — not even out of anything significant like fear or insecurity. Mostly I just deferred it because of laziness. It’s not that I was afraid to approach the unknown. It’s just that I was in no rush to approach it.
The other weird thing is, yesterday, while at Best Buy, they had issued me a store credit on a “Congrats Grad” gift card. That was one thing, but then the cashier who later rang me up made a big deal about it.
“Are you graduating?!” she asked in a bubbly manner.
“Nope, that’s just the card they gave me,” I muttered, thinking it odd that a usually drone-like Best Buy employee was being so friendly.
“Oh. I was going to congratulate you,” she said. She even seemed disappointed about it.
What is the universe trying to tell me?
I pondered this for a while last night, after awaking from the second dream. I walked over to the crib and picked up my nine-week-old son. I carried him back to the bed with me, where he promptly projectile spit-up on himself, me, and the bed. Then the dog, who previously couldn’t have been roused, a three-hundred pound dormant bear, suddenly jumped up to obsessively lick the spit-up off my pillow. Lovely.
In the ten years since college, I got married. We bought a house. I’m having these nightmares about not having enough math credits to graduate. Imagine if I’d never decided to go out on the night I met my wife. That’s the thing I should be having nightmares about — scenarios where I stayed in to watch television instead.
My mom died. There was a dream I had where I just wanted to show my mom a picture of my son. I was so desperate to show her. I wanted to see her reaction so badly, but I didn’t have a picture to show her. No use pondering that dream. It seems pretty straightforward.
We had a kid. I no longer approach the unknown. I live there, teetering on its very precipice.
I look at him. His tiny, smiley lips are surrounded by his fat cheeks, regurgitated milk, and spit bubbles. The spit bubbles are a new thing he’s doing. This is my life now. I used up all my life-deferring credits on this little guy. They say the average cost of raising a child is $241,080. But after you cash in all your life-deferring credits and start living real life, you actually come out a little ahead.
The dog, satisfied with her work, nestled back into the comforter. I put Fat Messy Man Mouth back in his crib. That’s my nickname for him this week. He has new ones all the time. Like days, like dreams, there are new ones all the time.