I still sing my daughter to sleep sometimes, and one of our favorites continues to be "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from the Disney film "Cinderella."
It begins like this: "A dream is a wish your heart makes/ When you're fast asleep/ In dreams, you will lose your heartache/ Whatever you wish for, you keep."
Beautiful, right? Well, if there's any truth to it, I'm scared. The most noteworthy dream I've had lately is not one I want to see materialize anytime soon.
It started over the holiday weekend. One afternoon while we were out on the beach, my husband noticed a few bug bites on him, none too close to another. They didn't look like normal mosquito bites. They were more like welts, and the bite site itself was a little scarred. When we got home a couple of days later, the bites hadn't gone down at all. They still itched and looked even bigger. I started Googling.
By now, I should be aware that there is a dark side of Google -- the one that leads you down a rabbit hole of terrifying misdiagnoses when all you searched was "sudden headache." (Isn't every headache sudden, when you think about it?) Or the one that convinces you that because of a few bites, you must have been sleeping on a mattress infested by bed bugs last weekend.
I've thankfully not had a history with bed bugs, but there were some undeniable similarities. Some people have no reaction to their bites, which explains why only Pete had them and not me. They're red, itchy, welty, last a few days -- um, yeah, that was about it. But I was on a roll.
I read articles about how people who have had to deal with bed bugs start to exhibit signs of PTSD. I wondered if we had somehow brought them home with us and our own mattress would shortly become a breeding ground. I made my mother promise to have exterminators go investigate the situation at the beach, just so we knew for sure. Then I went to sleep.
And I dreamt about bed bugs all night. Big daddy ones, brown and ridged. Little baby ones, flea-like and ready for their first blood-sucking bite. They were biting me all over. They were laying eggs on everything I owned. I woke up that morning anything but refreshed and anxious for an update from the exterminator. Finally, around lunchtime, my mom called with news: There are no bedbugs in the condo. A couple adult mosquitoes were flying around the room. They noticed a single, small house spider. The end. And this "investigation" wasn't free, either.
Is it weird that my first reaction was sweet relief while hers was likely annoyance? After all, my dreams had vividly done their job: prepared me for the worst-case scenario, should it ever happen in reality. And all I was prepared to do was completely freak out, so thankfully that wouldn't have to happen. That's worth a reimbursement to me.
This week, I'll try to look on the bright side and assume the best rather than the worst. After all, the Disney song ends: "No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing/ The dream that you wish will come true." Terrifying!
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org