Unlocking the Key to a Meaningful Life

What do you dream about?

Minutes spent in adventurous boot camp class today: 60

New arm and rib muscles located and made sore: 43

Words written in novel so far: 44,521

When I was in second or third grade, I used to dream I was flying.

I would be hanging out on the playground near the big, domed climbing thing, then I would start running. The liftoff was the best part: there would be a moment when I wasn’t sure it was going to work. Then, empty of the awkwardness of a jet plane takeoff, my body would lift into the air. I would survey the playground and leave for parts unknown. Especially parts where there was no math class or warm boxed milk.

I don’t have those dreams anymore.

Instead, I was particularly fond of a butterscotch-colored horse in one dream recently and was shopping in another. I end up in school a lot when I’m asleep, the very place I was trying to escape, even as early as second grade.

I went through a period when I tried to access those thoughts, the world beyond my ken.

My freshman year in college, one of the girls in my suite took out a Ouija Board before we headed out on the town.

I was wandering back and forth between my room and theirs, brushing my hair and becoming glamorous. Well, presentable.

And I lost my dorm key.

It was there, and then it was gone. It was on a Tarheel key chain. When I discovered it was missing, I realized maybe this was not the best plan: every student at the school had a Tarheel key chain.

Eight girls scoured the rooms, the beds, the bathroom, the floor. We spent 20 minutes looking. Nothing. No key.

I knew I couldn’t go out without it.

So two of the girls asked the Ouija Board. “Where is Anne’s key?”

It spelled out P-O-C-K-E-T.

It most definitely was not in my pocket. I didn’t have pockets. I was peeved and working my way to annoyed.

My suitemate yelled, “Okay, everyone empty out your pockets!”

Inside one of the girl’s pockets was my key.

When I went home that summer, my good friend and I would spend hours in a large, musty, wooden-floored, wooden-shelved bookstore in Atlanta. We read everything we could about numerology and astrology and dream analysis and life after death. I guess we kept hoping we would learn something about the mind-body-spirit connection that would help us in life. Or at least help us get men.

Then we would have coffee and huge slabs of cake at a local coffee shop.

We never unlocked the key to a meaningful life. But I can tell you a lot about why I shouldn’t date a Cancer.

What is the meaning of life? The older I get, I think it’s either lots of love, lots of time or lots of sleep.

For years, my kids would wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me their weird dreams. Then they would lie beside me in bed, and just as I was drifting off, they would stage-whisper:

“MOM. I’M GOING BACK TO MY BED.”

There were whole weeks when I was not a very nice person.

Just last night, my 11-year-old woke me up to tell me he thought there was a snake in his room.

After I get some more sleep, maybe it’s time for me to head back to an old, musty bookstore to research the mind-body-spirit connection again. If I can’t figure out life, at least I can analyze all of our dreams.