Not in Kansas Anymore

I have this reoccurring theme in my dreams.  I may go months without seeing it, but when it returns it is ultimately the same as it was the last time I had it.  Bits and pieces change, the way that dreams do, but the gist of it remains the same.

I have a reoccurring dream where I go back to college.  Not any college, mind you, but Ohio University, the place where I spent both my undergraduate and graduate years.

In these dreams, I see people that I went to college with, although it seems like who those people are changes each time.  Invariably, though, they're all in college, and in this world that's where they're supposed to be.  There's nothing strange about it.  They still have more to do before they can graduate.

But I don't.  In fact, the central conceit of these dreams is that I have already left, and I'm now returning.  The reason for my return is always the same: I don't know what else to do.  I am always going into a PhD program and I always feel like everyone else has been there the entire time I was gone, and that perhaps they have a leg up on me.

It's also very clear that I'm only pursing this degree because I don't want to do anything else, I don't know how to do anything else.  I fluctuate between the two, really.  Often I even admit as much in the dream, and claim that I could end up dropping out of college once I figure myself out.

Interestingly enough, I'm still with Nicole in these dreams.  There's always a bit about having a long distance relationship, that Nicole is back here in California doing responsible adult things while I am back at Ohio University trying to be productive, because apparently it's the only thing I CAN do that's remotely productive.

Don't get me wrong, I loved college, particularly grad school.  Those years will always be a source of inspiration for my work.  Truly, I've gotten a lot of material out of such a comparatively short period of time.  But I don't want to go back there.  Really.  It may have taken a while, but I've actually managed to grow out of that phase of my life.

But I think that, to a certain extent, I will always romanticize those years.  My friend Jay referred to it as the gravy train, albeit one we all knew would eventually come to an end.  There was a wonderful simplicity to life back then, one that I don't think I ever fully appreciated, at least not when I was living it.

I suppose these dreams say a lot about where I'm at.  I suppose I am still trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with myself.  I think it's telling, though, that even when my subconscious portrays me as adrift in an ocean with no north star to lead me, I'm still with Nicole.

I may not know what all the things I'm supposed to be doing with my life are, but I know that one of them is being with Nicole.