“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again.” Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

Last night I dreamed of… not Wellesley, but some unidentifiable college of my imagination.

I started in a large hall, all chestnut and cherry, with walls covered in decorations such as would be found in a medieval church, in the manner of American colleges of such an age. A hall such as would be used for convocations and large assemblies. More like a church, the room was redolent with the smell of old candles and incense. This was not Wellesley – Wellesley would use its beautiful stone chapel for such occasions. Nor was this Stanford Law School, with its soulless brutalist modernism. Nor was it the only other building I had been in at Stanford as a student, the gilt-laden Memorial Church.

The room was large, but I gave it only passing attention. My interest was piqued by a door at the side, barely visible behind a row of ornate choir stalls. I started up what proved to be a stone tower. 

The tower was not empty – chairs and easels filled the corners, and every so often a door would open into a cramped office, clearly of some academic toiling away. I passed by one office and glancing in saw my freshman Latin teacher, whom I (and numerous other young women) had had a terrible crush on. I wondered idly where he was these days and what he was doing. As if to underscore the unreality of the space, the next office contained my law school bankruptcy professor.

I kept climbing. This once again told me it was not anywhere I had been – I had never climbed Wellesley Tower while there, nor Hoover Tower at Stanford. Call me lazy, but I am rarely inclined to climb any tower, anywhere. I have climbed towers before (St. Isaac’s in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida)), but only under the most exceptional of circumstances. These days, with my limited mobility, climbing towers is a pipe dream.

I came to the top. There were no bells (unlike Wellesley) just a glorious open space with blue skies with puffy clouds and cool, bright, air.

I woke up. I spent the next twenty minutes fixing the dream in my mind, every scent, every color.

I don’t know what the dream means, other than I am getting very tired of my COVID prison. I notice that climbing the tower didn’t give me an escape, merely a respite. Maybe that’s all I get, right now.

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