Feb 13, 2006

Mall dreams

I experienced another "mall dream" last night ... and it seemed to endure for hours.

Strangely, I have had numerous dreams within the past month that have taken place in enclosed shopping malls. Everything is mall-like about the atmosphere in said dreams. What is always present are a variety of outlet stores (both real stores and store names my mind conjured up), busy shoppers, bad mall music and many of the sounds one simply associates with a mall, the unmistakable smells of commerce one is bombarded with, the confusing maze-like layout designed to make it more difficult to find the exit so you are likely to pass by more shopping opportunities that are difficult to resist.

Come to think of it, in mall dreams, I'm always searching for the exit, but something or someone is always distracting me from my goal. I feel much like a rat in a maze who will surely perish if he does not soon reach the exit, but is tempted with food offers left and right. I never reach anything resembling an exit before I awaken.

I am also usually aware that I possess very little in the way of money, which reflects my current financial status in reality quite accurately. Yet another reason to search for the exit in a shopping mall, no? Of course, being that it's a dream where anything can happen, it is often the case that I reach into my wallet and pull out a $50 bill I didn't know I had or discover that someone had accidentally dropped a wad of $20's in Spencer's. If only reality could be like that.

The prices in these malls are usually either outrageously high or unrealistically low; there isn't much room for moderation. In last night's dream I passed by a small store that sells nothing but exotic towels from Greece, piled from the floor to the ceiling. The cheapest towel costed $613, the most expensive $600,000. Even in my dream I had the cognizance to inquire, "what kind of crazy shit would buy such things?"

Products that capture my interest in dreams are usually products I have been meaning to attain or desiring to possess in reality. If I need a new digital camera, it's highly likely I will have a mall dream and glaze over quite a few digital cameras. I'm not quite sure what I wanted this time, though I was distracted by a Valentine's Day store, full of hearts, chocolates and other sweet things. A simple hug on V-Day would leave me satisfied, thank you.

There is quite a feeling of alienation, though, when I find myself in the lingerie department, or a steakhouse. I avoid such places in reality, but tend to show up in them in my dreams. What is so interesting is that people are almost always passive. I am aware of their presence, but pay hardly any attention to them in contrast to the objects I am examining. Yet another accurate reflection of real life. I may not have been spoken to once in this latest dream; or perhaps the overwhelming amount of other stimuli was simply capturing all my attention.

My dreams are highly geographical as it is. I am very spatially as opposed to socially minded. I spend my time examining the boundaries and orientation of physical landscapes rather than most of the occupants inhabiting it. My mall dreams do not pivot around social interactions, but rather, my personal interaction with the mall space. Generally, malls in my dreams become more and more queer in structure and design as the dream proceeds, until it barely makes sense and is hardly recogniseable as a mall- my mind simply has me convinced that I am still in a mall.

In last night's dream I felt I was in my local mall, and as I strolled along the tiles nothing seemed different about it. Awhile later, though, I noticed a large open dining area with huge, ornate glass windows assembled on the far wall. The ceiling seemed to rise up into the sky at a 45 degree angle, resting on giant pillars. The atmosphere was incredibly exotic and airy ... enlightening, even. There were a few other souls there dining and loitering. I would have loved to take a nice lunch and a good book there and sit down at one of the tables, nourished by the natural light that filtered in through the glass windows. If only malls could realistically evoke such sensations from me.

Then it got weird. I continued strolling into an open courtyard surrounded by the entrances of more outlet stores, but before I could reach any of them, the tide came in and I found myself standing in waist-deep water. I lifted my two bags of soaked merchandise up above the surface and looked around in confusion, noticing that everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves, as if they expected it. This was cool, foamy, ripply water, as if it had just rolled in from the sea. I paced about, somewhat irate, until I found an elevated concrete path I could stand upon the left me standing in only a foot or so of water. I pushed my shopping cart (yes, I magically ended up with a shopping cart- isn't that the way dreams work?) back into the actual mall, which was still dry as a bone. No one paid much mind to my wet clothes, because I wasn't any. Dun dun DUN! Return of the naked dream!

One other thing I should note is that food always plays a major role in mall dreams. Hey, food is one of the main reasons I venture off to malls in the first place. If I don't indulge in the good eats, at the very least I can treat my muzzle to the wonderful smells. In dreams I usually end up in some sort of restaurant, ice cream parlor, or snack joint, pouring over the menus on the wall and trying to decide what I want. I rarely ever decide, despite the pressure I feel to make up my mind on the double. I usually become quite frustrated, in fact. I'm not certain, but I do think this is symbolic of my indecision in my conscious life, and the inconfidence and discomfort I can experience as a result of such indecision. That it relates to such a basic need in my dream demonstrates how seriously I take such an issue, or how seriously it should be taken. Then, I wake up hungry and desiring whatever food item I had been trying so hard to obtain in my dream.

So what could explain my dreaming of malls so frequently? A sub-conscious infatuation with materialism? Maybe I have been watching too many movies like The Terminal or Mallrats. Perhaps malls simply fascinate and attract me more than I realise.

That, and my mind really does an excellent job at toying with me.

Something I have been considering: how frightening would it be if a device was invented that allowed others to 'see' the subconscious images in your brain as they occur? No longer would you have to struggle to recall and describe your dreams... the observer could simply show you his notes. Personally, I would not appreciate such a compromise of privacy. *shudder*

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