Dreaming in Technicolor
I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know? —Ernest Hemingway
By the time the 1990s arrived, I had closed the Mistletoe Shop and Florist, opened and expanded Local Color Gallery, added a framing business and was building my interior design firm with clients throughout the Southeast. Plus I had several employees, including one that had been a nurse. It was the former nurse that one day presented me with a list of three psychiatrists and said “Choose one.”
I’ll admit that I was taken back by her suggestion and asked “Why?” What had become obvious to her was my lack of sleep. I had reached a point where my nights consisted of the “What if” scenario as I tossed back and forth wondering if this happened or that happened, “How would I react?” or “What would I say?” My brain just did not want to shut down and the sleepless nights had finally caught up with me.
I said that I did not need a psychiatrist and she replied “Maybe not, but at least let one prescribe something to help you sleep.” When I told my father of this plan, he immediately wanted to know if there was not another solution. Being in the insurance field, he feared that a prescription for an antidepressant would stay on my record forever and come back to haunt me in the future. Fortunately, I took the nurse’s advise and sought help.
The most interesting side-effect happened as I began to get a good night’s sleep – I started to dream in Technicolor. Vivid, happy dreams with only the occasional sad or even rarer, nightmare occurred. Often these dreams were an enhanced version of something that had already happened. Even stranger, I began having unusual, tailor-made dreams where I dreamed house floor plans and as a self-described frustrated architect, I found that fascinating. There is also a recurring mysterious street of vacated storefronts that has appeared in numerous dreams. It is like an abandoned downtown area that in some way feels familiar and yet, I have never been able to figure out if it really exists.
This past year I have let myself wallow in my memories as I pulled together stories for my upcoming book release, Songs from an Imperfect Life. Billed as A memoir of family secrets, hidden sins and growing up gay in 1960s Nashville, my story begins by admitting that I was molested at the age of seven by a member of our church.
A couple of weeks ago, I had an all-too-real dream where I watched my young parents walk down a hallway in what appeared to be a hospital. I was a child in shorts and a checked shirt holding my mother’s hand. As they approached the information desk, I let go of her hand and skipped away smiling and laughing – the epitome of a happy child. Although my parents did not seem to notice, the adult me did and called out “Ronnie” over and over again. And yet, the younger me did not hear.
Eventually, I followed myself into an open area at which time “Ronnie” turned around and saw me. I asked, “Ronnie, how old are you?” His smile turned to sadness as he held up his hands and indicated with his fingers that he was seven-years-old. The age when I was first molested. With that, I woke and realized there were tears streaming down my face. Now I wonder if it was actually a dream or if it could have been a memory?
Release date for Songs from an Imperfect Life is Sunday, March 18th with Author Talk & Book Signing at Parnassus Books – 2:00 p.m.
J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.
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