How can you tell a nightmare?

I, as my present self with my present possessions and obligations, woke up in a hotel in my college town at the end of a spring semester. All my gear was gone. I was without clothes, wallet, keys, phone, briefcase, computer.

My house—it had ceased to be a hotel room—was full of excited people taking their things and leaving for the summer. Boxes filled every room and corridor so that it was hard to move around. A woman repeatedly caught my eye while flitting in and out of rooms and collecting objects. It was strange to find every bed in my house occupied. These people had made themselves at home in my home and I didn’t recall inviting them but I didn’t mind because they were all getting up and leaving.

Many wonderful items littered the open spaces of my house. There were boxes of music and movies, each one bearing the mark of a well-loved friend and their signature odor. Piles of gadgets flowed out from fireplaces. Happy dogs caromed off everything.

Everywhere I looked, there was a friendly stranger saying goodbye. I would have liked to own any of the things they were taking away but I did not want any of their things and I could not see anyone taking anything that I needed, or that belonged to me. My possessions were still missing and I continued to hunt for them.

After searching every other place, I returned to the room where I had woken up. There was no lock on the door. Somebody was there. It was the woman! She was putting on a shirt. It was my shirt! She was glancing at an empty spot on the table. It was the spot where my things had been! I snatched her by the wrist and demanded, “Where is it?”

The woman yelped and protested. She looked guilty but she was becoming more beautiful before my eyes. I called out, “Help! Theif! Police!” Moving into the corridor with the woman in tow, I found a friendly policeman. The woman denied taking my briefcase with my wallet and phone and computer inside. I hadn’t named the stolen articles! She had obviously taken my things but the policeman urged me to embrace the loss.

“What will happen if you lose those things?”

“Nothing much. I’ll report the credit cards stolen and suspend the phone service. I’ll get new cards, a new phone, a new computer. It’s just a pain.”

“It is a pain. How would you like it if you never replaced those things?”

“That is my dream.”

“Why don’t you let the woman go?”

I looked at her. She had become the most beautiful person in the world and her eyes swore that she was mine.