Dreams come in all varieties. Some bring us comfort; others terrify us. Many slip away the minute we awaken and leave no trace. Occasionally, we have the same dream again and again.

My friend, Nancy, has very vivid dreams. She recounts them to me when we run together in the morning. Sometimes I can’t tell if she’s telling me a dream or if her waking world is just really wacky. Her dreams are often funny, rarely frightening, frequently embarrassing.

When I have strange dreams, I sometimes bring them to Nancy. She’s good at telling me what they mean. Or at least, she tells me what she thinks they are supposed to mean.

When you dream about a house, she says, it often symbolizes the condition of your life at the moment. A well-ordered house suggests stability; a run-down one reflects turmoil and anxiety.

Once I dreamed about finding a room in my house that I didn’t know I had.

“Oh, that’s a good dream!” Nancy announced. “It means you have untapped potential!”

Before I bought my house, I used to dream of the kind of house I wanted. Each year the house in my dreams changed, in accordance with my tastes. When I finally managed to buy a house, it looked nothing like my dreams.

I still dream of houses, though.

Earlier, I dreamed of giving my house a birthday party when it turned 100 years.
Built in 1923, I requested a plaque from the Historical Society of University City when 2023 rolled around. Once the plaque arrived, and was proudly mounted on the porch facing the street, I decided to throw my house a party.

The party was particularly poignant to me, considering I almost lost my house in the flood of 2022!

Century Home Plaque

Century Home Plaque

I collected my friends together and even hired a band.

People began to arrive for the festivities, bringing bottles of wine and things to eat. I was enjoying talking to everyone—you know, a party with friends—when I began to notice that the place was getting crowded.

Where did all these people come from?

At some point, one of my friends brushed past me on her way to the kitchen and said with a knowing look, “I hate to see your credit card bill next month.”

That’s when I remembered I had given my debit card to another friend to run out and buy more wine—given how crowded the party had become.

The more crowded my old house became, the stranger the party turned. I saw two men I didn’t know walk into the kitchen, each carrying a case of bottles.

I went to search for the friend with my card.

“She gave the card to Darcy,” someone told me.

Who’s Darcy? I wondered.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t even know most of the people around me.

And then things really got weird.

We were no longer at my house. We were in a large building, the kind used for big events.

Eventually, a woman walked up to me. It was Darcy.

She was accompanied by a short, round, sweaty man with strawberry blond hair who was acting like an agent or a producer or someone official. That’s probably why he was very officious.

Someone cautioned me to be polite.  “He may not look like much, but you don’t want to take the wrong step with him.”

Smiling at Mr. Officious as politely as possible, I turned to Darcy and tried to act casual.

“Can I have my card back?”Darcy just looked at me and stepped away, leaving me with the man who seemed to be sweating even more profusely than before.

“You’ll probably need to pay a fee,” he told me as he handed the card to me. It glistened slightly.

“I had to change your pin.”

“You changed my pin?”

“You know, the pins on both your cards are very similar.  I couldn’t get the last two digits on the credit card. But I changed the one on the debit. You really shouldn’t have such similar pins.”

“Wait, my bank will charge me for changing the pin?”

“Just talk to your bank.”

Before I could collect myself enough to challenge him, he changed tracks.

“I mean, not to offend you or anything, but the band you hired is too small town. We’ve got guests here who have flown in from Hollywood for this event. They really expect more. I’ve already had one guest complain. He just left.”

I didn’t know who the unhappy person was but all I could think was “good riddance.”

I didn’t know any of the people standing around Mr. Officious, whose name I now knew was Philip something. I saw someone holding an invitation to my party but the invitation described it as some kind of “happening” produced by “the Darcy and Philip team.”

Philip started telling me the names of all the important people who had come to the party.

He was standing too far away from me to easily make out what he was saying. I kept repeating to him what I thought he was saying.


“No! Sal B. Hoat.”

We went through a number of names like that. Philip mumbling something, me shouting what I thought he said, he correcting me. Like a warped game of telephone.

Finally, Philip grew frustrated repeating everything and came close enough for a conversation. He showed me the guest list, pointing out the important people.

Why were they at my party? Why was I paying for them?

I woke up before I got any of the answers.

And I woke up before my dream self had time to panic over the likelihood that my bank account had been ransacked.

I was in Tokyo when I awoke, at an airbnb. It was June 3, 2023, and I was still struggling with jetlag.

I had bought a bottle of wine the day before at a nice wine shop in Kichijōji.

But it certainly wasn’t enough to bankrupt me.