RHYS BOWEN: A few months ago Hallie's sister Amy wrote an interesting column for the New York Times' T Magazine. It was about visiting the Mormon Temple in LA for the first time. The link to the whole column is here and it's well worth reading: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/06/l-a-p-o-v-inside-the-los-angeles-mormon-temple-visitors-center/
However it was the last part of the column that fascinated me. Here is what Amy said:
AMY EPHRON: As I start to leave, a painting on the wall stops me. It is the only piece in the room that has neither an artist's attribution nor a caption. It is a landscape of a river, a riverbank in the forefront with palm trees, a river and a view across the river of mountains on the other side.
I used to have a recurring dream when I was a child. The image in my childhood dreams was identical to the landscape in the painting. It was always the same landscape except occasionally (in certain variations of the dream), there would be people on the riverbank and, sometimes across the river, there would be people and houses on the other side. Nothing ever happened in these dreams. It was as if I were an observer looking at a landscape.
I've puzzled over it often, trying to figure out its meaning, trying to decide if it had any spiritual context. It even occurred to me once that it might be heaven. And there it was on the wall, my dream, the landscape in my dream, in its natural state with no houses on it and no people on the riverbanks. No signature on the painting, no inscription, no caption underneath.
I called Elder Grover over and asked him if he knew what it was. I thought he was going to tell me it was a sacred place in Utah or at least the hills in New York where Joseph Smith discovered the golden plates. "Oh," he said, "I think that's a painting of the Santa Monica Mountains."
It was sort of in the "always keep a pin by your spiritual balloon" department. I decided not to tell him about my dream. I tried to remember if I'd ever visited a riverbank in the Santa Monica Mountains when I was young, as I answered very softly and somewhat cryptically, "Oh, I think I must have been there when I was a child."
I've always wanted to put meaning to dreams. Scientists tell us that they are just our brain acting randomly, re-processing what we've done, and rewiring itself for the next day, but I'd like to believe in portends and messages in dreams. The only two that are really clear to me are after my parents died. I had one dream about each that was so clear, so real, so overwhelming that I had to believe they were contacting me. In the dream with my mother she ran toward me and hugged me tightly. I said so loudly that I woke my husband "I can feel the hug."
So dear Reds and readers have you had any amazing dream experiences? Have you ever dreamed the plot of a book?
p.s. Amy emailed me yesterday to say that she'd had swim lessons as a small child right next to the Mormon temple so maybe she had seen that picture before. Thanks for bursting the bubble, Amy!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Don't even get me started. (Oh, too late.) I have the same dream, all the time, about a house. I would recognize the house anywhere, and I wish I would have the opportunity!
It's, ah, sort of disappears when I try to describe it, but it's on a lake, very big and lots of windows. It also has a stairway, with flowers painted on the risers. And in my closet--"my" closet, because I live there--there's a door that opens into another room, and in that room is a, like, closet of beautiful things. Map drawers--you know?--filled with scarves and pearls. And clothes I forgot about.
It's all beautiful wood, and opulent and wonderful. And EVERY time, I think--oh, I keep forgetting about this! Why do I never remember this room is there? and someitmes in the morning, I feel as if I should go look for it.
Plot of a book? No. But there's still hope.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I have recurring dreams about living in a huge house that has far more rooms in it than are used. Often, it's some variation of my grandmother's house (an 1820's Greek Revivial since passed out of the family.) Sometimes, it's an older two story house with an unexpected third story that leads to a light-filled, modern apartment. In my dreams, the rooms aren't secret, exactly, but are extra spaces, places I can fix up or retreat to or live in. The houses (or occasionally barns) vary - I can think of six off-hand - but my sense of excitement and pleasure as I go exploring is always the same.
My other recurring dream is about needing to use the toilet and not finding one. It usually ends with me waking up and dashing to the bathroom.
HALLIE EPHRON: Ah, yes, all the Ephron girls took swim lessons at Camp Tocaloma on Santa Monica Blvd. in the shadow of the Mormon Temple. I adore Amy's tart notion: being prepared to stick a pin in your spiritual balloon.
Like Hank I dream of houses, and drawers loaded with goodies I've forgotten about, and like Julia of houses with hidden rooms and desperately seeking a toilet and finding only ones that don't work. I'm also big on packing dreams -- I have to pack up everything by a deadline that I can't possibly make. Anxiety, anyone? I wake up and my jaw aches. I know this must sound familiar to a few of you at least...
LUCY BURDETTE: I know the toilet dream too--ridiculous! My recurring house dream has to do with figuring out where I'm going to put a big group of visitors--I mean hour upon tedious hour of assigning rooms and beds.
I also had a dream recently in which I was in law school. No offense Julia and Ross, but law school? Pure torture. Plus I was turning 60 and trying to hide it so the other students wouldn't realize I was over the hill and tackling something way out of my realm.
Take that Dr. Rhys Bowen!
RHYS: I took a course in dream psychology when I was in college and learned that recurring dreams about a house are how we see ourselves. So Hank, Hallie and Julia with your big beautiful houses, you have a healthy ego--but Julia you have talents you haven't had time to explore yet.
And I think we've all had the toilet dream, and I have the packing one, and the being too late for my flight one. I wonder why that is?
So has anyone out there dreamed a plot for a book? Been contacted by the dead? Seen into the future? Inquiring minds want to know.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I have, not exactly a recurring dream, but a similar dream, very often. I'm in a house and I know I live there, but it's not like any house I've ever seen, or actually lived in. And in every dream the house is different. Rhys, I'm sure a dream psychologist could have a field day with that one!
My most memorable dream? The morning of my beloved grandmother's funeral. I don't know how to describe it except to say that she was there with me, and telling me that she was all right. This was thirty years ago, and it was such a profound experience that even now I can't write about it without tearing up.
And have I dreamed a book? Yes, for the first time ever, THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS. I knew the basics of the plot but little else. I woke about 4 a.m. one morning with what seemed like the ENTIRE book in my head. Characters, scenes, dialogue, atmosphere... I got up, grabbed a notebook and a pen, and wrote like mad for about three hours. I didn't manage to capture everything, but a good deal of what I dreamed that night did end up in the book. It was a bizarre and wonderful thing. I hope I'm lucky enough to have it happen again someday.