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I lie in bed at my parents’ home in Minnesota, cozy in my basement room with the wood paneling and red carpet. Heavy homemade afghans keep me snug under the chenille bedspread and clean white sheets. My head rests on feather pillows.
I’m dreaming deeply when suddenly I’m awakened by some kind of roar or scream. Someone is in great distress upstairs and I can hear it all the way down in my room. I glance at the clock—8 a.m.—and immediately think, My dad is dead. Mom found him dead in bed. This trip is going to last a lot longer than I thought.
I shake off the world of my dream, get dressed, and run upstairs. I peek into my dad’s room: still dark, his body still huddled under the covers. I walk down the hall to find my mother cheerily playing solitaire on the computer in the den. “Who was shouting!?” I say.
“That was your father. He was having a bad dream,” she says. “I found him standing by the dresser, gesturing like a wild man. I rubbed his back and he's sleeping again though.”
“Well is that normal?” I ask.
“Fairly," she says, suffering. "Too much pistachio pudding this time."
Later, when my father is up, we all sit at the kitchen table for breakfast. “What the hell were you dreaming about?” I ask.
“Something about work,” he says, stirring his coffee. My dad is retired from the Forest Service, days when he was in charge. “Something about being a leader, telling people what to do.” He stares at me intently. “Why do you ask?”
“Because you woke me up from a very intense dream too! Some lady had asked me to lunch, and I went because I thought it would help my career, but when we sat down at the restaurant I saw that she had very hairy arms and realized she was a lesbian! I knew she wanted me, and I didn’t want to be rude, so I did eat with her but then I ran back to work, where there were these two guys polishing the floor with this big machine. One of them asked me to lunch too, and I went even though I was full because he was so cute, really big with shaggy blond hair. On the way to the restaurant he stopped to get his mail, and I realized that he was Manly Wilder! When we sat down to eat, he pulled out all these blueprints to show me, and then he said he just polished floors on the side. He was really a courtroom designer. A courtroom designer! Can you believe that?”
My dad shakes his head and purses his lips, a look his five silly children are used to. “You dream crazy,” he says. “I don’t know where you get that from.”