Dream: The Norwegian Household

Dream 20030505, 5:50 AM:

Much of this dream occurs “movie-style,” where I am not involved in the action but see it as if in a movie, with perspective shifts, closeups and long shots, etc.

It starts with an image that reminds me of Babette’s Feast, with a woman in the kitchen of a very plain stone house preparing an extravagant dinner. This just flashes up like a snapshot.

Then, a series of moving shots showing the house and its various outbuildings as a woman’s voice in voiceover explains that she has come to this place and joined this household to be with her husband. The house is made of thick stone block walls and is exceptionally solid, like a Mediaeval keep. There are numerous white clapboard outbuildings, and there are a lot of people there. It seems more like a small community than a family dwelling. The entire place seems very Norwegian; the people are pale and fair-haired for the most part, and the atmosphere is mostly overcast and gray. On the insides, the houses are very Spartan and plain; for the most part the walls are bare stone like the outside, and there are no decorations or hangings. The women live entirely separate from the men; most of the action in the first section takes place in a women’s dormitory, which has stacked bunk beds made of square-hewn lumber. There is a woman who seems to be the chatelaine or matriarch; she is not old, but is obviously in charge. She is explaining to the new woman how things are done. I remember several little scene-lets:

There are several women standing around one of the larger beds in their (very concealing) long under-dresses, and the new woman, who has travelled and has a broad education, is explaining about being part of a theatrical show. She is telling something about how some of the women carried guns up their sleeves. She demonstrates, using the voluminous sleeves of her white underdress. The lead woman explains that there will be no guns, and in fact nothing kept up the sleeves of the underdress, and that the collars should be securely and properly fastened. She tugs hers forward by way of demonstration. All of the women seem to have on two layers already, although they are in their undergarments; each has something white and opaque like a camisole, and over that another chemise-like garment with a high collar and flowing sleeves.

Then, another scene where the lead woman is sitting at a desk, and the new woman comes up to her and asks some question about how the household is organized. On top of the desk are several small book boxes, looking like individual shelves out of a barrister’s bookcase, with locking glass lids on the front. They are open, but only because the woman is sitting at the desk using them. I know that these are the books of household accounts, which the she keeps under lock and key and maintains scrupulously. She explains something about how the men are kept in separate quarters, and this is just the way it is done here.

Then, another scene – the women are all getting ready for bed, when the lights suddenly go out. One of them is sent for lamps and candles. One of the women asks about what will happen if the men’s lights are out as well – the lead woman is pulling on her clothes, and says, “They will come to us like animals; we must meet them like civilized human beings.” All of the women are dressing now, and going outside.

Then, I see a different scene – this time in the men’s dormitory. There are a bunch of men, all of them very pale skinned, talking together in a large empty room. It is very cavernous and made of stone, just like the rooms on the women’s side. There are a bunch of young boys who are taking a shower; I think they must have just come in from sports or something. There is a man overseeing them, and he makes them do some marching move in the shower that is supposed to get them clean. The showers also have stone walls and floors. Everything seems gray. The very white skin of all the people stands out in sharp contrast. I notice how much the children resemble their fathers, who were the men talking.

At this point, the perspective of the dream shifts. It seems like I have become the character of the woman, but it also seems like I am myself. I am walking along a busy sidewalk; it seems like a convent or a university; there are lots of younger people walking along. I am talking to one young man, and I explain (in German, for some reason) that our lights had gone out – “Wir haben keine luchte” (there’s a strong sense that this was not “lichte,” although I don’t know if that has any significance. In the dream, I felt like it was Dutch instead of German.) He explains (also in German/Dutch) that their lights are also out, and he says something about being proud of it. He uses an odd word that I don’t recognize, and I ask him to explain in case I need to know it later. It starts with an H, and is something like hammer. I ask him to show it to me in the dictionary, so that I’ll know how to spell it. His companion opens up a dictionary, but there is no entry for that word; he says that his friend made it up. I ask if it is a different meaning than “stolz,” which is the word I know for
“proud,” but he says it means something different, more like “prideful.” I shrug, and go into a small stone building. It looks like a house, but very small and partway built into the earth, like a stone cellar or a mausoleum.

Inside, there is a living room decorated all over with Christmas decorations. There are about half a dozen people, possibly more, and it seems like they are preparing for some sort of celebratory dinner. I look at the various stuff on the wall, and above my head there is a decoration that has rows of red tubing with tiny lights on it; the lights are not lit. Someone points to it, and explains that I should fix it. I look at it, but it doesn’t make sense – I can’t see how I could fix it.

Then, Mom is here, and she’s trying to share my chair. It is a large, comfortable easy chair, and she sits so that she is sort of half on my lap. She seems comfortable for a moment, but then she reaches her hand down inside her jeans and adjusts her shirt, which is apparently twisted and making her uncomfortable. I whisper in her ear, saying, “These people are pretty much one-to-a-chair, sit-up-straight types.” She nods in acknowledgement, and I think finds another chair. I get up, and look at the decoration again. I think it has something to do with Santa Claus, but I don’t really remember. I just know it has the patterns of red wire/tubing with tiny light bulbs, the size of diodes. I take it gently down off the wall, and follow the wiring. I realize that there is a place where one of the wires is disconnected, and there are other wires connected together with little red wire nuts. I trace the wires along, trying to figure out where the loose one goes. At one point, I touch a couple of wires, giving myself a small shock. It surprises me, but doesn’t hurt much. I finally figure out where the loose wire needs to join up, and connect it using one of the wire nuts, and all the little lights turn on.

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