My anxiety about eventually leaving Paris is mounting. I have less than two months left, and even those two months will blow quickly by considering the next 10 days will be dedicated to travel and the two weeks after that will be busy with the bountiful papers and presentations I have due. By that point, it will be mid-May, exams will be approaching and my year will be winding down – so soon!
It appears that this anxiety has been manifesting itself in my dreams. Elaborate and convoluted, my dreams rarely make much sense, but they do often shed light on my present psychological state. Lately I’ve been having a reoccurring dream (each time the scenery and the events are a bit different, but the scenario ends up being pretty similar) where I find myself back in the U.S. about to start my senior year; except, instead of being at Smith, I’m back in high school. I didn’t hate high school enough for this to be an out-and-out nightmare, but it’s a disorienting and worrisome experience.
Anyway, it’s not really my high school: some teachers and students from Rockford do surface, but there are also people from my present there with me. It’s also not clear that I am in a high school. The atmosphere is either loosely defined or reminiscent of a combination of campuses, including that of Université Paris Diderot. But I do know I am in high school because of that magical dream sensation that tells you where you are and what’s going on without ever really telling you.
Although these dreams aren’t nightmarish, they quickly become disconcerting and frustrating. Even though I am the same age as those around me, I do feel like I am too old to be in high school. Likewise, I quickly tire of the patronizing manner in which the members of the administration treat us (in the most recent dream, I stood up during a beginning of the year assembly – taking place in a room that looked a lot like Amphi 11 in the Halles aux farines of Diderot – and expressed my disgust with the infantile treatment we were receiving and the unnecessary information that was being conveyed to us). Lastly, I seem to have already studied all of the material that is to be presented in my classes. In bringing this up to the teachers, I am either ignored or mildly scolded for having read or studied or done too much.
Now, what could this all mean? I think it’s certainly a reflection on the fact that I view returning to Smith next year as a step backward from the independence and personal progress that I have made while here in Paris. Additionally, it may be reflecting a frustration at the prospect of facing the maternalistic bureaucracy of the college. The dream may also be commenting on the fact that I will be studying a number of texts that I have studied before in the classes that I have chosen for next year. My subconscious potentially views this repetition as a reflection on my education: I have already studied all there is to study (not even remotely true) so why should I return to Smith?
The dream generally seems to convey the sentiment that I will be out-of-place and out-of-sorts when I eventually return home. This is something that I’ve been ruminating on for some time. I don’t know if it will show itself to be true or not, and I won’t be able to find out until I have made it back.
In the meantime, I will keep dreaming – and analyzing what comes out.