I have this strange recurring dream. I am in a large, institutional-type building. It is something like a hospital, or a school, sometimes a hotel, or even a restaurant. There are lots of odd, recurring things about my travels through these buildings, but two things seem consistent.
First of all, there are always large groups of people in these places; I’m always trying to avoid the crowds. I travel by back stairways and freight elevators. I always seem to be on one side of a door while there is a huge group of faceless people on the other side.
The second thing; I’m always looking for a bathroom. These buildings I’m in are FILLED with bathrooms, huge 50 stall bathrooms, but I’m always looking for one that is totally unoccupied. When I find an unoccupied one, I decide that it is too dirty.
Sometimes I’ll open a door to a place I know is a bathroom, it will have turned into a lecture hall, or a restaurant dining room. I’m then lost and have to walk around until things once again look familiar, then it’s back to the stairways and hallways I know so well, back looking for an out of the way bathroom.
I’ve had these dreams so often that I know the places in which they occur, even if I’m awake. There is that weird house that was split into a two family, oddly, and is falling down in places. There is the big hospital that seems to have nothing but stairwells, nurses stations, locker rooms and bathrooms. There is the big school that has exact replicas of a once-local Borders bookstore and a long ago torn down restaurant inside it, etc. About 10% of the layout of these buildings change in every dream; just enough to make navigation frustrating.
For a long time I assumed that I was having these dreams because I simply needed to go to the bathroom. My subconscious was processing the information my body was giving it which was, find a bathroom. I now know that my bladder has nothing to do with it. These dreams are about lack of privacy.
Everything I do, everything I say, everything I think, is put up for public consumption on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, latitude, etc. Worse than that, everything I post, everything I do, everyplace I go, is monitored, surveilled, analyzed, and over analyzed. If I don’t share enough, the social media posts of my friends, acquaintances, and even people with whom I have no contact are monitored and analyzed. I am under constant surveillance. I’m not paranoid, my every move is watched by friend and enemy alike.
The dreams are about the lack of privacy. The settings are familiar, but change just enough to be unsettling. I’m searching for a place with a little privacy, but the truth is, at least right now, it doesn’t exist.
Given my fragile state of my mental health, and my PTSD history, this may be enough to push me over the edge. I need to throw out my computers and dust off the typewriter in the office.
The irony of posting this story in this blog is not lost on me.