Have you ever had one of those super vivid dreams that felt like more than just a dream? Like the universe was trying to tell you something, or warn you, or pull you in a certain direction, or steer your path a certain way?
Back in November, I had this beautiful dream. It began with me finding myself at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I could hear the sea lions squealing, and I could smell the pungent yet charming fish market surrounding me. It was early evening, and the sun was just beginning to set. The air was tired, relaxed, and salty, as if dehydrated from a long day on the beach. Everything was winding down–people were leaving to go home, shops were closing. I stood there in the middle of it all, breathing and smiling.
Before I knew it, I was swimming. I was in the San Francisco Bay, pulling my way through the water, and I could see the Golden Gate a couple of miles away. It was morning, and the water was cold. But the colors were so beautiful and vivid. The cardinal red bridge glowed in the sunlight, and the water was a deep peacock blue. I kept swimming, stroke after stroke, and came up for air when I needed it…
And seconds later, it was dark. I was on a boat…a ferry on the Bay, to be exact, with a bunch of strangers who, in the dream, seemed to be my friends. No one I knew was there with me, but we were all laughing, joking around, having a good time. There was beer. And then the fireworks began. Right over the Golden Gate bridge. Absolutely beautiful. The cracks and bursts felt so real that I kept twitching with surprise every time a firework exploded. Until I realized I was not twitching in my cushy seat on the ferry; I was twitching in my Northwood apartment bed, lying down. I jolted awake, opened my eyes, saw the white ceiling instead of the starry sky, and it took a good two minutes for me to regain my bearings. It was the kind of ocean-deep sleep you wake up from and feel like you’ve been hit by a submarine.
My clock read 3:34 A.M. It was one of those dreams that had felt so real that I couldn’t just go right back to sleep, (although I really wished I could to see the next “scene” of San Francisco.) I lay there pondering where this dream had come from. I hadn’t watched any movies set in San Francisco lately, or even any re-runs of “Full House,” my all-time favorite childhood sitcom. Hadn’t met anyone from San Francisco recently, or read about it…or anything like that.
Very strangely, I had this same exact montage-like San Francisco dream two more times throughout the course of that very same week. I just couldn’t figure out where all of this overwhelming imagery was coming from. I had been to San Francisco 6 years ago with my family, so I had images in my head. But why were they coming back to me like this over and over again in the middle of chilly November nights in Ann Arbor, Michigan? Completely random…
…or so I thought.
Fast forward to April 1st. I had applied to a total of six classical music summer festivals, (kind of like camps-participants go play in orchestras and meet other national/international students and musicians from all over. Guest artists give lectures, concerts, and classes- it’s a community of the arts, kind of like a “summer internship” for college-aged classical musicians.) These festivals are extremely competitive- each one only accepts about 4-5 French horn players, and hundreds of players in their 20s and 30s apply every year. I was losing hope because I had been either wait listed or denied everywhere. And the worst part is that I had paid $60-70 just to audition for each of the programs! $60-70 bucks… all to get an email saying, “No, we don’t want you. Thanks for your money.”
My teacher recommended that I apply to the San Francisco Brass Institute. It’s a 2-week chamber music program where musicians get to work with and play concerts alongside the San Francisco Symphony members. “It’s free to apply,” he told me. “You might as well make a couple more recordings and see what happens.”
So there I was at midnight on a Wednesday night. Me and a mountain dew and my French horn in Britton Recital Hall, for three hours, recording and getting good takes and bad takes and okay takes. I was running on 3 hours of sleep. I finally got pretty good takes of all of the audition material that still weren’t perfect, but it was 3 A.M. and definitely time for bed. “Good enough,” I told myself. My sound had filled the recital hall for three strange hours in the dead of night, the overnight cleaning crew being the only other people in the entire music school building. It felt like a shot in the dark.
I submitted my recordings online the next morning, right on the deadline.
A couple days later, I got my congratulatory acceptance email from the Institute. One problem: the festival cost of tuition was $1000. And room and board was another $1000. I had saved up about $800 to put towards a summer festival. My acceptance letter said that I could write a letter explaining need for scholarship.
I wrote a very articulate letter, basically explaining just how poor I am. I “expressed my need” for $1200 to attend the festival.
Three days later, I came home from work. It had been a horrible day in the life of retail. I wasn’t excited about checking my email and writing out a to-do list for the night…
Until I saw an email from Vicky Greenbaum, the San Francisco Brass Institute program director. The email notified me that I had been awarded a full scholarship-covering tuition, room, and board–for the 2-week institute. Wow! These people actually wanted me, unlike the other six festivals. How often does a program offer you 800 more dollars that the amount you asked for?
So, after six disappointing emails, hundreds of dollars wasted on six auditions, and an emotional journey of rejection, I had finally received great news. After about a month of burnout, I was completely re-inspired. I danced around my room for about an hour, then called my parents, my best friend, and my boyfriend. “It’s FREE!” I kept exclaiming. I found it so ironic that this had been the only festival without a ridiculous application fee, and that the actual festival was going to end up costing me absolutely nothing besides a plane ticket to San Francisco and back. The best things in life truly are free. And I couldn’t believe how fast the Institute had reviewed my application and listened to my recordings; the other six had each taken at least 3 or 4 weeks to get back to me and had given me many hard days of anxiety-ridden anticipation.
It wasn’t until later that night that I was lying in bed, fidgeting with excitement and unable to fall asleep, that I remembered those dreams from November. They had popped into my head briefly when my teacher suggested applying to the institute, but now they were really freaking me out. Never had I had a dream predicting the future, but now I’m not so sure.
Has anyone else ever had a similar dream? Something that felt so vivid and instinctive that you thought it meant more than just your subconscious unwinding from a long day? Or a recurring dream that felt more powerful each time it came back to you?
The mind is a powerful thing…that’s all I’m saying.