River of Dreams by
(171 Stories)

Prompted By Dreams

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In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
By the river of dreams
– – – Billy Joel


"All I Have to Do is Dream," "Sweet Dreams are Made of This," "Dream Weaver," "Dream a Little Dream of Me," "The Impossible Dream". . . .  It seems that every songwriter has something to say about dreams. They have all been running on a loop in my brain this week.

There are so many good songs with “dream” in the title that it was hard to decide which one to use. “All I Have to Do is Dream,” “Sweet Dreams are Made of This,” “Dream Weaver,” “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “The Impossible Dream”. . . .  It seems that every songwriter has something to say about dreams. These songs have all been running on a loop in my brain this week, which has been great. Ultimately I chose a recent Billy Joel song (okay, not really recent, it’s from 1993, which still seems recent to me), because its lyrics apply better than most to any type of dream.


When I was a little girl, I had a recurring nightmare about a witch chasing me. I think it must have started after I saw The Wizard of Oz, because the witch who was chasing me certainly looked a lot like Margaret Hamilton. When I finally told my father about it, he said “The next time that witch starts chasing you, you turn around and look her in the eye and tell her to leave you alone or else your father will get her!” It may sound silly, but the next time it happened I did as he instructed, and after that I never had that nightmare again.

In my adult life, I have had two recurring dreams that I can remember, neither of which is exactly the same every time, but follows the same general plot.

In my favorite recurring dream, I am back in college and living in a dorm, which sometimes seems like Comstock Hall, my first college dorm, and other times does not. I am the me that I am now, not my teen-age self, but the other students never seem to notice that I am older (that alone makes it a great dream!). In the dream, I already have my actual Bachelor’s Degree from 1972, but I have decided to get another one. I will only be allowed to do this if they don’t know that this is my second time going to college, so I have to make sure I don’t accidentally say something that would give it away. But I’m ecstatically happy to be there, and having a great time picking courses and hanging out with the other students. It’s not like the anxiety dreams where you have to take a test in a course you didn’t know you were enrolled in. It’s the opposite of those. In this dream, I am in the right place at the right time and everything is great.

When I wake up and realize it isn’t true, I’m always a little disappointed.

The second recurring dream I have, which is not as pleasant, is about packing. Sometimes I am packing suitcases, either to go on a trip or to return home from a trip. But more often I am packing up an entire house because we are moving out. I spend a lot of the dream checking all the closets to make sure I have packed all the clothes, then boxing up all the other household items, but invariably when I think I am all done, I discover an entire bookcase full of books that need to be packed and I don’t have any more space for them. Or sometimes it’s something else rather than books, but there turns out to be a large amount of something that I don’t have room for. And then the question is whether to just leave it behind for the next occupants, or whether there is some other solution. Generally I wake up before I solve the problem, and then I am very glad that I’m not really packing!

The other night before I fell asleep, I tried to will myself to have one of these two types of dreams, so that I could remember more details to include in this story. Amazingly, I did have a brief back-in-college dream just before I woke up, so I leapt out of bed to write it down before I forgot. I was in a classroom checking out the guys, and decided I was interested in one named Peter DeSoto. I have never known anyone with that name, but the name was very clear in my dream. Then the professor assigned a paper, which could be about either Chrissie Hynde’s song “My City Was Gone” OR a song from Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado. I love that Pretenders’ song, but decided to write about The Mikado because I had just come back from Japan (in the dream that is – I have actually never been to Japan – and I don’t think that Gilbert & Sullivan had either when they wrote The Mikado). However, I was very enthusiastically explaining to the other students about Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders, and what that 1984 song signified (although it should be pretty obvious with lines like “The farms of Ohio / Had been replaced by shopping malls”). I remember all this from what I scribbled on a piece of paper, before getting back into bed, which was the words “Peter DeSoto, Chrissy Hynde, My City Was Gone or The Mikado.”

I have never wondered about the meaning of my dreams, or done any reading about dream interpretation. So while writing this story, I figured I should find out what the standard interpretations are for the two recurring dreams that I have, and see if they seemed applicable. I googled “dreams about going back to college” and “dreams about packing” and skimmed a few articles that came up. I have to say that nothing I read seemed to apply to my life at all. Admittedly it wasn’t the most scholarly research. Maybe I need to get someone who is trained in dream analysis to explain them to me.


Profile photo of Suzy Suzy

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Brava Suzy!
    Hope you saw Topsy Turvy, the wonderful film about G & S who indeed never were in Japan but were inspired to write The Mikado by an exhibit that was mounted in London at the time about Japanese life!

    And small world, for this Dreams prompt I mention the summer I worked as a camp dramatics counselor and directed The Mikado, albeit a version geared to little kids!

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Really enjoyed your exegesis on dreams, Suzy. And I had wondered what song you would choose as your title, as I also realized that there are a ton of “dream” songs out there. Good choice — it will be my own earworm for today.

    Very interesting about your two recurring dreams. I guess I also dream occasionally about going back to college, and it is a fun dream, though I can never quite figure out what age I am. However, I more often dream about law school — not being back there, but I have decided to go through it again, just to polish up on my legal skills. Not exactly a nightmare, but, in real life, that would be about my last choice in terms of filling my time.

    As to your dreams, did your parents drive a DeSoto when you were young? (Just a stab in the dark,) Or maybe something to do with DeSoto being an explorer. As to your packing/moving dream, I haven’t a clue, other than that, as with test taking, you’ve tapped into a standard anxiety.

    In any event, thanks so much for sharing. And do let us know when you have figured it all out.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, John. Going back to college is a much more appealing idea than going back to law school. I am happy to say I have never had a dream about the latter! My parents did not have a DeSoto – I didn’t even know that was a brand of car. And I doubt I was thinking of the explorer. So Peter DeSoto remains a mystery – maybe he will show up in real life. The packing dream is the one I have most often, so I would be interested in having someone analyze that. I will certainly let you know if I learn anything useful.

  3. Wow, Suzy…amazing that you were able to will yourself to have one of those dreams! And that you got up and made notes…and they made sense! I can’t even will myself to get back into a dream I didn’t want to wake up from.

    I won’t try to analyze your dreams…but my daughter would be happy to, it’s one of her many interests.

    “All I Have to Do Is Dream” was my very favorite song throughout my teen years. But you forgot Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and you’re welcome for THAT ear worm. Maybe now that I’ve passed it to you (and Dana), it will go away. On second thought, I don’t want it to. Because, Steven Tyler…who’s now 72? May he stay forever young, at least in my mind.

    Great story, great read, as usual!

    • Suzy says:

      I was amazed that it worked too. There have been plenty of other times I have tried to will myself to dream about something and it hasn’t worked. When I jumped up to get a pen and paper, my husband could not believe it, until I said it was for Retro, and then it all made sense to him.
      I would love to have your daughter analyze my dreams. How would we make that happen?
      Wow, can’t believe I forgot about “Dream On,” which is a great song! I love Steven Tyler and Aerosmith. I even occasionally watched American Idol when he was a judge, just to see what he would do. Thanks for adding this song to my dreams earworm loop!

  4. Marian says:

    Suzy, that’s amazing about the Wizard of Oz nightmare. I wrote my story about that dreamscape, but it’s more neutral. In your case, glad the lucid dreaming worked for you. The other amazing thing is that I frequently have dreams about going back to college, never Brandeis, only Mills. Usually they are really pleasant. I’m no dream interpretation expert, but I’ve noticed a pattern that when I am trying to learn something or figure something out, that’s when I have a Mills dream.

    • Suzy says:

      Marian, I’m glad to hear you have pleasant dreams about going back to college too. I wonder if that pattern applies in my case. I’ll have to be more analytical about what is going on in my life when I have the college dream.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    You picked a great song, Suzy. I love Billy Joel, as does my 16 year old granddaughter (go figure), I also love your father’s advice to turn around and confront the witch of your childhood nightmare. A great life lesson. Your college dream is a great one. I loved my time in college and wish I could have happy dreams about it rather than examination dreams. Your packing dream is my reality now! I can ask my husband about your two recurring dreams if you really want to know, but the college one is lovely so why bother. And the other is too close to what he is doing right now (packing up wine bottles).

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, Laurie. I think Billy Joel songs are timeless, so not surprised your granddaughter loves him too. I would be very interested in what your husband has to say about my dreams, although he may not want to hear about my packing dreams when you are doing so much packing in real life!

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Suzy, I have to echo others’ comments. First, great song choice. I’ve been singing it since I saw your title come up yesterday. Second, I LOVE that your father gave you advice, you took it and your bad dream went away! Perfect.

    I also really like your going back to college, fun dream; no anxiety dreams for you! I think you really enjoyed your time in college, so like to revisit it. Just as simple as that. Why not?

    As for the more stressful moving box dream, you’ve told us in other stories that you save everything, so I could see how packing would be a stressful situation for you, IMHO. Just a guess.

    Love that you’ve had a dream about Mikado. As Dana points out (and I do hope that you can stream Topsy-Turvy. Not only is it full of wonderful music, but it is entirely about the development of The Mikado and Gilbert and Sullivan’s often fraught relationship. According to a friend who knew a lot about both of them, it is quite accurate too), The Mikado was inspired by Gilbert seeing a Japanese exhibit in London, which then became a craze.

    By the way, my father had a DeSoto dealership before it evolved into a Chrysler dealership. The DeSoto disappeared from the face of the earth!

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for your insightful comments, Betsy. I think your interpretation of my dreams makes as much sense as any. I may have found a way to stream Topsy-Turvy through my library, will try it out tonight and see if it works. Interesting about your father and DeSoto – I just looked up DeSoto, and it was a division of Chrysler from 1928 to 1961. As you know, I have a connection with Chrysler through my Valiant, but I doubt that explains the name in my dream.

      • Suzy says:

        Good times watching Topsy-Turvy last night. We sang along with all the songs, and my husband even stayed for the full 2 hours and 40 minutes — usually he can’t sit through a one-hour TV show. I do have some criticisms of it, but on the whole very enjoyable!

  7. Suzy thanks for sharing these so vividly. It made me realize that my mother’s interest in dreams really gave my brothers and myself a gift- which was being open to the dream’s wisdom or message. Stories our sub and super conscious is telling ourselves. And I love the idea of scribbling a note with things that stand out before we arise, so we remember. I had a therapist once tell me so many dreams are lost as we get up to pee- she recommended staying in bed when first awake, and allowing images to flash. Re-inspired!

  8. Oh boy, what great dreams! I really appreciated that your father stood beside you, even when it came to your dreams. I’m guessing he acted that way often. I also loved that name — Peter DeSoto! May I borrow it for a character?

    Incidentally, you’re right. Neither Gilbert nor Sullivan ever traveled to Japan. One or the other of them visited a Japanese Exposition held in London in 1885. I’m sure they didn’t visit the expo together; they hated each other. I admire that you have had such sweet dreams!

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, Charlie. You’re right, Peter DeSoto is a good name for a character! You may have it, as a gift, not just a loan, on condition that you mention me in the acknowledgments to the book he appears in!

      I learned about Gilbert going to the Japanese Exhibition in London from the movie Topsy-Turvy, which I saw last night on the recommendation of both Dana and Betsy. An amusing movie, you should see it if you get the chance (although it’s 2 hours and 40 minutes long, and could have used some editing in the first half). So I guess I’m prepared now to write that paper that was assigned in my dream.

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