December 6, 2023 | Rome, Italy

What dreams may come

By |2018-11-21T03:20:02+01:00November 20th, 2018|"Scarlet Says"|
Even seemingly nonsensical dreams can have a presaging dimension. Detail from a drawing by Guy Billout.

never believed in psychic ability until, by chance, I experienced it myself. Twice in my life, I’ve had unusual things happen when I dream. Meaning, not only were the dreams themselves strange in the way that some dreams are – nonsensical, really – but the events that occurred after the dreams made me see them in an entirely new light.

I had the first dream during college. It was the fall of my senior year. My roommate had spent her junior year abroad, and her older European boyfriend was visiting. He had been staying with us for a month or two, and we had become friends. The time finally came when he bought his return ticket and was set to go home. That evening, his last in California, he was out celebrating, and I remember going to bed early. I had an odd yet vivid dream in which he wrote a letter that I was trying to read. But as I did so, the letters blurred and the words became illegible.

The next morning I was awoken by the loud ringing of the phone. It was the police, calling to let us know that our housemate, whom we discovered had never come home, was now in the hospital. He’d written our address and phone number somewhere in his belongings. Neither my roommate nor I had a car, so the next thing I knew, we were in a police car on our way to the hospital. When we got to the hospital, our housemate was delusional. PCP was the culprit, they told us. The police picked him up at the local market, where he was wandering the aisles, interacting with figments of his drug-enhanced imagination.

A Jewish outlet I read suggested that dreams are one-sixtieth prophecy. A rabbi said that when you’re asleep, your soul can sometimes travel into the future.

We looked in his bag for a clue. In it was an envelope. My friend opened it up and we both started reading. “Don’t send my body back to Germany,” it read. “I want to be buried here.” The letter continued to detail how upset he was with his life, how he had no hope left and was going to get drugs to put an end to it all. Tears flooded my eyes and I couldn’t read anymore because the letters were blurry. Then I remembered my dream.

In the moment, I thought it was a bit creepy that the dream came true. But I didn’t think much about it immediately. Only later, on reflection, did I begin to wonder about dreams and psychic ability. A Jewish outlet I read suggested that dreams are one-sixtieth prophecy. A rabbi said that when you’re asleep, your soul can sometimes travel into the future. I wasn’t sure what I believed. I was just glad that our friend was alive and that we could help him.

My next unusual dream didn’t happen until more than a decade later. In this one, my late mother and I were sitting side-by-side watching an oven. Then my sister walked by and said something about there being a bun inside. I woke up and thought it was the weirdest dream I’d ever had. Until about a week later, when my sister told me that she was expecting. How wonderful that our mother also knew, I thought. Her first grandchild, my nephew, was coming into the world. As I think back to this dream, I remember there was more than one oven that we were watching in that dream. Less than two years later, my sister had her second child.

In a Jewish Bible story, we learn about Jacob, who had vivid dreams, as well as his son Joseph, who was able to interpret dreams accurately. Dreams foretell the future all the time, biblically speaking. But in my life, this happens rarely. When it does, I’m inclined to be thankful, even if it is a bit scary.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have another prophetic dream. I think it would be nice to learn about something miraculous, perhaps the key to bringing peace to the Middle East, or winning lottery numbers. But my dreams are closer to the heart. They’re about people in my life going through transitions. My dreams make me feel more strongly connected to them.

About the Author:

Scarlet Michaelson wrote the "Scarlet Says" column between 2017 and 2020,