In the dream, I am showing a suburban house — I am a city Realtor who shows apartments, so this was a good first cue that it was a dream — and it is my first open house for the property. There are so many visitors that they form a tribe, and I am leading them through, tour-guide style. It is a three-story house, like the house I grew up in — but it also has some features of the beloved beach house I am reluctantly selling, and in the dream the address is of an apartment that I just rented that was a quick, successful, well-paying deal. I am doing OK with the tribe, moving them from room to room, when one of the crowd challenges me.
She is another Realtor, a top one, and she states loudly and forcefully that the house is overpriced; that I never should have let the owner list it at such a price; that I don’t know what the hell I am doing; that this house shouldn’t be my listing; and that she is going to bring the issue of my gross incompetence to the National Association of Realtors. I have enough cool to tell her that this is something unprofessional that she shouldn’t bring up in front of the crowd at a showing, but her remarks are very well received by the crowd, which turns against me, and I am thrown off my game. Even though I know the house cold, in each subsequent room I am challenged, and I answer badly.
For example, in the master bath — a hideous renovation where the double sink is of some kind of expensive yellow marble with the basin a different marble of white with grey veins — someone asks why the sink is like that. I know I don’t have an answer, other than that "the owners have lots of money and terrible taste," but I fumble for it and can’t quite find it. Same thing happens in the game room, with the threadbare teal carpet, and so on.
The showing takes forever — it is a common feature of my anxiety dreams that they play out in real time, so I have lots of time while in dream state to suffer through freaking out — and finally we get to the end of the tour, and I realize that I’ve forgotten to do a sign-in sheet. I get people to sign in as they are leaving, but since I haven’t had a sheet throughout the whole process to make notes on, I don’t know who anyone is. I try in my head to remember as I see the names, but everyone is of a different protected class — an Asian girl, a guy in a wheelchair, a senior couple — and so of course if I make notes based on that the feds will get me for a Fair Housing violation.
And about half the tribe don’t even sign in because they have been convinced by my enemy. The witchy Realtor throws me one more look over her shoulder, a triumphant "I told you so," and then as she leaves I wake up, shaking.
What a trippy dream. I blame the end of summer — we’ve been trying to cram all our sunshiny fun into the last week of August, so we had a wonderful but quite spicy homemade gazpacho for dinner. Still half-asleep, I chase the fragments of the dream to try to resolve it, like you to try to concentrate on a new flavor of sweet at the same time it’s dissolving on your tongue.
Of course it’s August, so my shrink is on vacation, but I am so well-trained I can do this without him.
SHRINK-IN-MY-HEAD: What did the dream make you feel?
ME-IN-MY-HEAD: Anger. Anxiety. Panic.
SHRINK: Why do you think you feel those things?
ME: I often have anxiety dreams. I have an appointment to show to a top Realtor tomorrow, so I am nervous about that. I guess I am afraid that I am not really good at my job.
SHRINK: Is that true, are you not good at your job?
ME: No! The listing I have has an accepted offer, and this is a backup showing, so if anything the pressure should be off. It’s just that in the dream I looked (and felt) so incompetent.
SHRINK: Did you recognize anyone in the dream? Did the woman in the dream have any specific features of anyone?
ME: The woman in the dream was a self-proclaimed "Realtor to the stars" here who died recently — I guess she was just meant to symbolize the top Realtor I am meeting tomorrow. But she didn’t have the face of that woman, she just looked like some famous person — Suze Orman, maybe?
SHRINK: And Suze Orman symbolizes?
ME: Financial comfort I guess. She seems like the one person in America who knows she’ll make money during the recession.
SHRINK: OK, so you had a dream that you messed up your job, and were bested by a symbol of financial comfort. What does that tell you?
ME: That even though I’m getting better at this job every six months, that I’m still more anxious about this career than I thought. That since housing prices just fell 16 percent year-over-year, that I’m going to have to stop eating spicy foods at night — at least till this slump is over.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
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