I was living with my ex-fiance and his family. Dave and I were still together as far as I could tell, but neither of us felt anything towards each other. His family owned a group of houses all connceted with ramps and tunnels that they called "The Compound." No one ever left The Compound. I was safe and miserable. I felt trapped.

A magazine appeared in the mailbox one day, and I hid it from everyone else. There was a classified ad in the back that fascinated me.

Live-In pet sitter wanted. We will be gone for three months and need someone to watch our birds. They require very special care. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Fiji.

I thought that this position would be my escape. It was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard--birdsitting in Fiji? I loved the idea of it. And immedietly I was in Fiji. Funny how dreams are like that...

I never had any contact with the Smiths, but I had full control of their huge beach property and their four birds... two penguins and two fuzzy little baby kiwis that really looked more like ducklings, but who was I to argue with the note the Smiths had left?

Next I was sitting in a tree with the birds, who were all wearing leashes. (?) They played with each other and I looked out over the water. The beach wasn't beach, it was desert... barren, sizzling, and ancient... Steam fizzled through minute cracks, and I could see three geysers in the distance. The water curling into the land was not very welcoming either. Somehow I knew by looking at it that it was more saline than the Dead Sea. Nothing could live in it, and I suspected that it would slowly and savagely burn my skin away if I were to fall from the tree. Still, the scene was so beautiful that I was frozen, breathless, afraid to move and break the spell. The sun was setting, painting the sky a deep angry purple kissed with orange. The beach and ocean curled into each other like lovers... It was a perfect but deadly marriage of fire and water.

I looked down and realized the tree was much higher than I thought. The beach was thousands of feet below me. I was stuck in this tree with four flightless birds wearing leashes. Looking behing me, I saw that the tree backed up to an almost invisible cliff. Shiny, lush, tangled greenery dripping with dew almost obscured my salvation... I took two birds under each arm and carefully picked my way to the cliff, and found myself standing in the backyard garden of the most beautiful home I'd ever seen.

I woke up.

Analysis: This dream mirrors the past year of my life. Dave and I were stuck in a loveless relationship. I was safe, protected, and bored to tears at Xavier University. I literally NEVER left the campus. I made my break by doing something characteristically impulsive and exciting/stupid. The perfect but deadly scene on the beach corresponds with Clifton--I loved it and feared it. The fact that I was watching the scene but not actually on the beach is important. The too-perfect ending? My move back home to Nashville.