On the days where enough has gone right in my tiny sliver of our grim shared reality to dredge up the now-nostalgic emotion of insouciance, I’ll make it a block or two from my apartment before realising, oh right, the pandemic didn’t end, and I forgot a mask. I run back, embarrassed and deflated. This happens, on average, once every 10 days.
Evidently, I’m one of the lucky ones because the momentary panic of masklessness only makes its irritating little cameos during my waking hours. Some of you, it seems, have been forgetting to wear a mask in your goddamn dreams.
Had a stress dream that I was back in high school but got in trouble because I forgot my mask MAKE IT STOP pic.twitter.com/cKFVIasSSB
— Natalia Alamdari (@nataliaalamdari) September 10, 2020
Dreams, generally, are something I experience with extreme infrequency — whether my brain generates and then forgets them or they simply don’t happen is immaterial to me. No freewheeling adventures while I’m sleeping, but no nightmares either? Net neutral! Then I start to see some unmeasured swath of the population experiencing a dream trope this traumatically mundane, and it pushes the needle a little farther towards the positive.
I forgot my mask in this dream so I wrapped toilet paper around my face. that was my first mask dream
— bring on the dancing horses (@inthefade) September 15, 2020
Last night I dreamt that I drove to a bowling alley without my husband's knowledge, walked in to find my therapist working the counter, realized I left my mask in the car, returned wearing mask, and avoided everyone there. Sounds plausible.
— Jenn R-J (@jennfel) September 10, 2020
Had a dream where I was in a crowded shopping district needing to buy food when I somehow forgot my mask, so I was freaking out and tons of people were around me close in my space.
Really 2020, I'm gonna have nightmares about that? Jfc
— Rin ✊❤ (@RinTheYordle) September 14, 2020
Had a dream I worked at a new coffee shop but I forgot my mask when I went to work and for some reason, it was PACKED that day and literally no one else was wearing a mask and I kept telling people to stay away from me but no one cared…
— Brandi Yoko (@BrandiYoko) September 13, 2020
Of the semi-random sampling of individuals tweeting about this experience, some likened it to other stress dream tropes (realising you’re wearing the wrong clothes/no clothes, being back in school, etc.) — another thing that doesn’t ever happen to me and that I hope will remain the case.
is anyone else having recurring stress dreams that they’re in public and forgot their mask? it’s the 2020 version of the dream in which you show up to school in PJs or unclothed altogether
— israel is an apartheid state (@cuzzy_b) September 12, 2020
Lately I've been having dreams of being out in city and suddenly realizing I don't have my mask on… I guess, it's like the 2020 equivalent of dreaming I forgot to put pants on.
— Pearlmethyst spam bot (@meepmorps) September 11, 2020
Lately I've been having dreams about showing up somewhere in public without a mask. I am always appalled and wondering how I could have left home without it. It's like the new naked in public dream.
— Diana ⚓ (@mrsdmeredith) September 9, 2020
how i know this year has caused some trauma:
last night I had a dream where I was in a public place where *no one* was wearing a mask, including dream me. I woke up sweating and my heart was racing like it was a nightmare.
— chel (@chelseymurphree) September 10, 2020
Apparently I developed a new nightmare about being in a store without my mask on. I get the same feeling from it as I do about the forgot a test/major assignment at school dreams that I continue to have even though I haven't been in school in over 6 years.
— alliemode (@alliemode_) September 10, 2020
In a small way, I feel a bit left out, in the same way everyone seemed to be rewatching The Sopranos and the same time and I had (and have) no opinion at all on, say, the fight between Tony and Carmella in season 4, a plot point I’m only aware of because I Googled “best character arcs in the sopranos” while writing this.
Similarly, Twitter is both connecting me to the shared conscious anxiety of an apparently large number of people having mask-based dreams, but not really delivering the experience itself. (One which, again, I still would prefer not to be having, but in uniquely human contradiction, I feel left out of nonetheless.) That’s partly on me for wanting it both ways.
If you’ve had a mask-related dream, the comments section is yours tell your terrified fellow travellers on the good ship Pandemic all about it.