Writer in Residence

2 dreams

The last dream I had about working at the coffee shop, I met one of my coworkers in a park that never existed. It was behind the Safeway up the street from our work. We talked a bit about how our lives were going. Things seemed mostly ok for both of us, no big news, and after a few minutes of chatting we decided to wrap up. Both of us had places to be. I walked away, east, over the tracks at Sunnyside station, towards home. This was the first coffee shop dream that took place outside the shop. The only relation to that physical space was in our knowing of each other that took place in it. 

It was unusual that I didn’t wake up from the dream with a tightness in my jaw. I’ve been grieving in my sleep. It had been two years since I left Calgary in March 2020, not knowing that I’d never go back. 

When I talk to my therapist I’m nervous about how it will come off but I ask her about what she thinks about dreams. She says dreams are important in the feelings they impart rather than their images. I sense that she is choosing her words carefully. I nod along then tell her about meeting my coworker in the park behind the Safeway. I tell her, it’s like my brain finally processed that I can’t go back to that pre-pandemic world. 


seaweed clump in black and white to separate text.


More recently I’ve been dreaming about a greenhouse that’s specially accessible via the fire escape that leads to the roof in my apartment building. The greenhouse inhabits an intricate glass structure with geometric glass paneling and vaulted ceilings. Shards of this structure and potting debris are scattered among the plants, which are few and far between. Not many of our neighbours seem to use the space. I wonder if they even know it exists. It’s possible they don’t – I’ve just discovered it myself after half a year living here. The air enters my lungs earthy and moist. When I leave I know that I need to tell V about this place. I wake up thinking this too but she’s in her own dream, her arms and legs tangled in the sheets beside me. 

As is my ritual, I wander around the house in the dark and find our cat, Tamarind. She’s curled up in a chair. We exchange our quiet night time greetings: a scratch on her head, a faint sleepy meow. I drink some water then get back in bed. 

It’s not until several weeks later that I attempt my return to the greenhouse, this time with V in tow. Our apartment block is so much larger in this dream, taking on the scale of a hedge maze. We have to go outside to get to the top of the building this time. Once we are at the top of the building the world of the roof stretches before us. From the side of the building we look over the city that is supposed to be Montreal, though in my waking memory I can’t place any landmarks. Next to us is a suburban style split level house, in front of us the pool and further beyond that, the greenhouse. I don’t think we try the door but I know somehow that we’re locked out. We have to go to the landlord’s house (the split level is where he lives) to get the key. I tell V this and we try, but their daughter is having friends over and we don’t want to intrude. “Another time,” I say. 

When I wake up I tell V. Soon enough, I am asleep and trying to get into the greenhouse again. 


seaweed clump in black and white to separate text.


I’m tempted to think about what it means but I try to think about how it makes me feel instead. Not getting into the greenhouse has me waking up with a curiosity I’m not used to feeling past midnight. There is no frustration, which is unusual. Just the desire to show the greenhouse to a person I love and then not being able to. I know we’ll try again in my dreams until something else happens.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.