Sweet Nothings

Keep Dreamin’

"Dreams" graffiti on a support beam of the Missouri-Pacific Railroad Bridge in Austin, TX

Do you ever wonder why we refer to our aspirations as dreams? I mean, I doubt most people hope that the classic dream of showing up naked to the first day of school and finding out there’s a pop quiz on Elvis album covers ever comes true. Despite this and the fact that most people’s dreams are stress-related and/or flat-out nightmares, the concept of dreams and dreaming maintains such a positive connotation. Perhaps this is because we like the idea of living in a world where the crazy stuff of our dreams is possible, and it’s this possibility that gives our R.E.M. cycles an unduly good rap. After all, if the world were zany enough for fish to fly and trapeze artists to kidnap us in cooking-oil-fueled submarines, it just might be the kind of world where the things we desire most are also possible.

According to a few online etymology resources, the word dream came to mean “ideal or aspiration” in 1931, and before that it was first used as an analogy in the sense of “dream-like beauty” in 1888. I’m not sure why the word dream shifted meanings when it did, but I’d imagine it had something to do with the stock market crash of 1929 – in a time when people lost everything and had to struggle to make ends meet, they could use as much hope and hope-imbued language as they could find. This doesn’t sound too different from our current economic situation, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we were on the cusp of inventing a brand new word for dreams right now. What do you think this word should be?

Red graffiti and a slice of the Austin skyline...Doesn't this paper cutout of a boy stomping on a triangle feel like something you'd see in a dream?

Psst: As you can see in these pictures, I kept my promise of sharing more happy graffiti with you this week. I found this red scribble of “dreams” and its accompanying paper cutout of a boy while walking around Austin’s Town Lake a month ago, but the boy has since been scraped off and the graffiti painted over. I showed my sister this photo and she suggested that the the boy is supposed to be playing baseball and the triangle is home plate, which is a theory I like a lot…What do you think the boy symbolizes, and do you wager he was pasted up by the graffiti artist or someone else? I’m not sure if the boy is independent or connected to the writing, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that the writing is somehow connected to the amorous writing on the wall of Jo’s. Do you remember the red “I love you so much” graffiti I’m referring to? Well, I recently learned that the coffee shop owner’s girlfriend was the one who spray painted the amorous message on Jo’s exterior wall. The owner was so touched that he left the red spray paint on the side of the building, and the store now sells t-shirts of the cursive love note. I hope this romantic tale gives you something pleasant to “dream” about this fine Tuesday evening.

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