Dreams From My Presidents


I used to have recurring dreams about the last president. They were always the same. I would be riding on a train, a fast, comfortable train, speeding through Europe. The Connecticut Texan would sit down next to me, furtive and alone.

“Emily,” he would say, “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I know it’s not right. I know what they’re telling me to do is wrong. Please help me. Please tell me what to do.”

The rest of the dream would consist of my detailed explanations of how not to prosecute unjust wars, how to stop destroying the planet, how to stop employing the techniques of fascist regimes. End the drug war, I would say. Legalize it all. Stop dropping toxic pesticides on ancient crops, and let us all get stoned in peace, like you used to before you found fake Jesus. Stop trying to invade women’s bodies and save the actual, wanted babies in the world, the ones who die by the millions from preventable diseases. Leave the gays alone. Restrict the corporations instead of the people. Put the military and the National Guard to work building schools and digging wells and fixing the American infrastructure, not killing people they’ve never met.

Bush would listen intently, take it in.

“Okay,” he would say. “I’ll do it.”

For eight years I’d awake from my dream into our long national nightmare, hardly redeemed by the accidental poetry of Bush’s remarks. He was like early Dylan at a press conference, but with control of the world’s largest army.

I dreamt of Barack Obama, only once. It was after the 2008 election and before the first Inauguration. It was a very simple dream and I’m sure a widespread one.

I dreamt that Barack Obama was my boyfriend. He wasn’t in the dream. It was one of those dreams that is only a feeling, and the feeling was this: “I am so proud of my boyfriend! I am just so proud of him! I am so proud of my boyfriend, Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the United States!”

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