Society Dreams

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Saint-Gaudens’s statue of William Tecumseh Sherman in Grand Army Plaza dusted with snow. Photo: JH.

Lauren Lawrence has been working in a dreamworld for more than 20 years. I’ve known her probably for that long since she began writing columns about dreams through analysis of dreams of people I know. I’ve never given much thought to the importance of dreams, although I’ve had a couple in my life that ultimately came down to reality, but their mystery and ultimate essence (when it is) continue to fascinate – especially at times when there are things in my life that are very unclear or uncertain.

Talking out dreams with Lauren Lawrence over lunch at Sette Mezzo. Lauren has published many articles on theory in peer-reviewed scientific journals and holds an M.A degree in psychology from the New School for Social Research.

1999 Lauren wrote a “Political Dreams” column for John F. Kennedy Jr. at George Magazine. He believed, while most did not, that she could get political figures to divulge their intimate dreams.

And so she did  — but only from Republican Senators. So John told Lauren she had to get at least one Democrat’s dream, which Senator Joe Lieberman thankfully provided.

(The “Political Dreams” column was a bit controversial, due to John Kennedy’s header, In bed with … which is why President Clinton, who was going through his Monica Lewinsky phase scandal, politely declined relating his dream.

After that she authored the “Dream Keys” series of books for Dell publishing in 1999 to 2000, and a coffee table book, Private Dreams of Public People, in 2002 for Assouline.

After that, her popular “Dreams” column ran every Sunday in the New York Daily News for almost a decade. In 2010 she hosted a TV show called Celebrity Nightmares Decoded. The pilot scored off the charts and went to series in 2011 on the BIO channel.

Among her many clients, or those who consulted her, was Lee Radziwill, who also happened to be a neighbor. Today we’re running a dream that Lee shared with Lauren near what turned out to be close to the end of her life.

Today happens to be the fifth anniversary of Lee’s passing; it seemed appropriate to share the last dream Lee shared with Lauren …

Lee Radziwill in the last decade of her life. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan

The Dream: On February 13, 2019, two days before Lee Radziwill died, she told me that she had started dreaming of Hammersmith Farm, her beloved childhood house, situated on the Narragansett Bay in Newport, Rhode Island.

Even though this house had been forgotten all these many years, her dream had magically brought her home. She said she was amazed by its majestic beauty and immense spaciousness. She grabbed hold of some tall grass, knelt down on the lawn and felt connected to so much joy.

The Interpretation: Houses generally symbolize the inner introspective sense of the personality. As such, the more palatial the home, the grander, more expansive sense of self worth. Yet, during old age, dreaming of returning to one’s childhood home takes on new meaning: It refers to a regressive wish to go back in time to one’s youth.

In this view, the importance of connecting with one’s roots cannot be overstated. The desire to stay attached, grounded, planted, if you will, to the earth of the living is emotionally restorative.


Lee’s beloved childhood house, Hammersmith Farm in Newport, Rhode Island.

Similarly, by reconnecting with the past, one keeps near to what brings a sense of unwavering stability.

One understands why the nearness of death is often unconsciously linked with the sense of uprooting, of being plucked out, as it were, detached from what once was. Necessarily, this sense is often expressed in dreams of those nearing their end. For the wish to stay earthbound is the wish to remain alive. This explains the many dreams of holding onto something or someone, be it hands, or handles, tall grass, or digging one’s heels in the sand as the waves retreat. For this is a way to stay in the world of the living.


Hammersmith Farm garden, 1930. Smithsonian Institution from United States, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

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