In Which We Unveil A Genuine Attraction

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hey,

Do you think that dreams hold any significance? I know it is boring to hear someone recounting their dream, but a few times a month I have the variation of the same dream. 

I am in a foreign city, and I know that my flight will be leaving the next morning. I have to find a gift for my little sister, so I proceed apace into the city center. I don’t find the store I am looking for, and eventually I reach the coast where I can see the ocean. Night falls. I make my way back to my hotel. In the morning I have woken up too late and I haven’t packed for my trip at all. I realize I am trying to take too many things with me on the return trip, so I must leave some behind. A few I hide in the hotel room, hoping I can return for them someday. 

I keep getting turned back on my way to the airport, but I finally make it there, and the dream ends. Can you discern any meaning from the fact that I keep dreaming the same thing?

Gabriela D.

Dear Gabriela,

I first being researching the nature of dreams after I had a sex fantasy about Eleanor Clift at the age of fifteen. My work in this field eventually drew me to the Jungian insights of Arnold Mindell, who describes two simultaneous processes that occur. In the primary process, we are filtering in aspects of our experience we can identify with; in the secondary process we encounter things that are hard to identify with and we struggle to make them part of our worldview.

This two part system is easily applied to your nighttime journey. You are conscientious, wanting to purchase a gift for your sister and make it to your plane on time. You are probably anxious about both these subjects, and disappointing those you love. There is a secondary meaning, which is that there are things holding you back from doing so: and they are all your things.

But what of your trip to the beach? The beach is a great place for meeting other people, especially if they are playing loud music through headphones or out of a boombox, which makes it simple to approximate whether this is the kind of music you will enjoy throughout the time you are dating.

Never get too close to anyone, though. Even if you like the same things, you will probably just end up missing everybody.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Hey,

I recently got out of a nine month relationship that was really intense and satisfying. Unfortunately she had to move to Seattle for work, and my own job and my family are keeping me here in Boston. We decided we don’t want to ruin what we have by trying to make it work at such a long distance. 

A month or two has passed since my ex moved, and she has now been contacting me (we said we wouldn’t do this). She is having some trouble making friends in her new city so she frequently calls or texts if she finds herself alone. I don’t know how to deal with this: I do still have feelings for her, but I was a bit upset she would want to stop seeing me in the first place – she had a good job here and I wouldn’t have done the same thing. 

She is locked into her contract until mid-2017, and I don’t know if I really want to go through this until then. There was a reason we decided long distance wouldn’t work, right? How should I handle her apparent change of heart?

Joe P.

Dear Joe,

We all make mistakes, although some people are more prone to making them than others. The fact that she put her career before you is no big whoop, since it’s not like you sound particularly committed to this woman. If you were, believe me you would be ecstatic, not disappointed to hear from her.

On the other hand, it sounds like you were hurt in this process and you should take some time to get over that pain before arriving at a firm decision about how you should react to your ex’s current behavior. But how to create the space you desperately need to evaluate things dispassionately? Just tell her you lost your phone.

I am kidding, this is the rare time you will ever hear me advising anyone to tell the truth, which is usually painful and nuncupatory. You will have to expose your true feelings and it is best to request a discrete period of time before reporting your findings.

In the end, you will probably find that this angry decision is what is best: you can’t hang around and be the outlet for your ex’s predictable sadsies for the next year. If you want, visit her at some point, have sex, and see if you want to flee back to Boston on the next train. If you don’t, maybe it is worth the occasional drunk dial to keep this person in your life.

NB: The intercourse during your reunion should be tender yet opaque. Afterwards, light incense that smells of rosemary and penitent coquettishness.

“The Sky Below” – Shane Alexander (mp3)

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