Dream Guy

Steve Hetzel

Dear Dream Guy,I was in the living room of my house on the East Coast, where I was waiting to teach my 10-year-old flute student. When she arrived, we went down to the basement, which turned out to be the basement of the Lawrence Conservatory. Everything was very different though; chaotic construction was going on in the Con lobby. The end of a large truck was backed into the Con, and the practice rooms were mere separated boxes, unconnected and ready to be shipped away. However, I still had to teach my student, and ran for one of the few practice rooms left intact. At the end of the lesson, she told me that she wanted to quit the flute and play the saxophone. I was hurt, but managed to convince her to stick with the flute for the rest of the year.

After she left, I started asking people if they knew what was happening to the con. Most students had no idea what was going on. In a condescending manner, I rationalized to one student that of course the practice rooms can easily come apart as individual boxes and then be reconnected into rows. Finally, I ran into a professor who told me that the entire Con was moving to Briggs for about three weeks, while the Con was being refurbished and renovated. Then, right before I woke up, I watched sadly as the last of the box-like practice rooms was loaded up, and the large truck drove away.

—Con Dreamer

Dear Con Dreamer,

The first thing you experience is the classic combination between Lawrence and your home. Who among us hasn’t dreamt of having Lawrence friends over at their house, or that Lawrence is combined in some way with their high school, or that the food on their kitchen table is Downer’s own General Chao’s chicken? If you’re like me—and I know I am—you’ve had these sorts of dreams many times. The physical combination of a familiar setting from the past—such as one’s home—with a newer setting—like Lawrence—represents a growing sense of familiarity with the newer place. Not surprisingly, that familiarity increases along with time spent in that new place.

Furthermore, the fact that your home never returns suggests a certain mental dominance of life in Lawrenceville over the life you once led back east. It was Morgan Freeman who once said “These walls are funny…first you hate ’em…then you start to like ’em…after a while, it gets so you depend on ’em.”

Prison references aside, your dream contains funny walls, indeed. It presents a new take on the commonly heard phrase, “I can’t find a practice room.”

At first, you’re as clueless as everyone else regarding what’s going on, but once you realize that everyone else is just as clueless, you take what you can infer, and pretend that it’s obvious. You see the practice rooms being detached and wheeled out, and while you had never imagined such a thing, you see that it’s possible. Thus, in the face of this chaotic and perplexing situation, you find a way to seem intelligent.

And who wouldn’t?

Yes, folks, another piece of the human condition revealed.

The fact that the practice rooms are being individually wrapped up, packed in, and rolled away seems to suggest a more permanent inconvenience than the one experienced by every day con artists. According to your dream, however, they were being relocated just across the street and down by the river. Yet, it still feels like they’re moving to California along with your best friend who you haven’t heard from since 6th grade.

Why, you ask, the emotional farewell as the last one departs? Let’s face it: practice rooms are lifeblood. Second only to the very music itself, practice rooms are an essential part of the conservatory diet. It’s not just like food, it is food. And going without it for too long makes musicians weak, fatigued, dizzy, nauseous, jaundiced—you name it. Thus, it is not hard to imagine that moving practice rooms across the great divide would make even the staunchest digeridoo player quiver—and also disrupt the delicate balance between college and conservatory. My fellow Lawrentians, I ask you: what is the con without its practice rooms? Nothing; nothing but bricks and mortar, I tell you. When I woke up this morning, I heard a disturbing sound: it was the jingle-jangle of a thousand lost practice rooms!

On top of all this, your flute student casually mentions at the end of the lesson that life is too short to be limited by just one wind instrument, and that she feels called to expand her instrumental horizons. “It’s not you, it’s me,” she says; gives you a half smile, turns, and shuts the door as you call out, “I’ll call you.” Despite this dejection, you manage to convince her to stick with the flute for the rest of the year. But the damage has been done.

And now, the big question: What does it all mean? Although you convinced your flute student to stick with it, there was some lack of enthusiasm on her part—in the dream, that is. As for real life, maybe you feel like your teaching—or even something else you do in real life—is being under-appreciated. And as far as the detachable practice rooms—mix and match! Collect all five!—it’s a clever way to imagine the spaces that are so monotonous in real life. It just goes to the show that the subconscious’s powers of warping reality do not always result in our worst nightmares; sometimes in ways that just make us laugh.

And laugh we must, for the day that there are practice rooms in Briggs is a dark day, indeed.