I’ve never really given much thought about the future and stuff. They say your early twenties are for making mistakes. While I’m not exactly careless, I try to live in the moment as much as possible. I’m good at things I can control, my conscious mind being one of them but in dreams, I find that certain things have a way of taking over. My desires manifest themselves in figures of people and places my eyes have not seen but my heart knows really well.
In one dream, I am wide awake, naked in the middle of a white room. The windows are open and the curtains are swaying. I am alone, of course. I rise, put on my underwear and sit on the veranda to smoke. I see the city alive and hurried and find peace in the middle of chaos.
This is usually the part where I wake up. I guess my mind knows how much my heart can take. It’s not exactly the greatest feeling in the world to wake up with a heart broken by things you can’t have. But if I were to allow it, I’m sure my life in dreams would be very interesting.
I’d have an interesting job where I am accountable for little but I get to meet all sorts of people. Perhaps in one dream, I am a barista in a small Parisian café. In another, I am a travel agent in Barbados with a PhD in Anthropology. In one dream, I could be a cab driver in New Delhi with a gambling problem.
I would walk the busy city streets and strangely feel at home in a sea of strangers. I would smile at attractive strangers and strangely, they always smile back. Sometimes they follow me home and… well you know the rest. In my free time, I write or I sketch and though no one gets to see my stuff, knowing that I was able to solidify a concept once only my mind held is enough to keep me going. My study is lined with notebooks full of stories and poems. My walls are full of paintings that mean nothing to the average person but mean everything to me.
And applause means nothing to me. Because for someone to remain honest, the sheer act of expression must be enough.
I share my bed with no one but it is hardly ever empty. In all of these dreams, I am never with a lover. I am able to do the one thing I can’t in my waking life- find happiness in solitude.
But then there are bad dreams, unrelenting ones that leave me shaking and sweaty. My fear of being alone becomes so big, it takes over my whole body like a phantom mountain out of a molehill. There is one in particular that recurs whenever I am stressed out at work or when I go to bed in a bad mood.
It always rains in bad dreams. I am in the backyard inspecting tomatoes or something equally mundane when the first drops fall. I would go back into the house and stare at the rain from one of the kitchen barstools. The dream would be like a song on loop for too long. I’d be staring at the rain for hours until I wake up thinking will my life pass me by? Has it already?
The dream itself is not sad. It’s the reason behind the dream that shakes me. I am almost certain I am married in these dreams but the vows were made more out of convenience than love or even passion. We barely touch. Where there once was sparks, we have charcoal and dust. We sleep in the same bed but seemingly in different continents. Perhaps we have children but they do not like me. They treat me like a stranger. My diploma hangs on the study wall gathering dust, my mind equally unutilized. I have dozens of novels half-written. My dreams of getting published give way to school meetings and doctor’s appointments. But the part that leaves me cold is that I am a stranger in my own house. In these dreams, I am eternally embracing suburban cliché with a morbid flair for conformity and compromise.
All the time, everyone around me is hooking up or getting into relationships. The follower in me tells me I must do the same. On lonely nights, I give in to the desires of my body. But I know this is not love. This is not even life. The dreamer in me knows that my happiness will always be synonymous to my solitude. The sooner I acknowledge it, the better off I’ll be.
It is nighttime. I undress, stand naked in front of the mirror, and begin a love letter to myself. My hands journey through all the familiar places, the spots that hide from the light of day and exist only in darkened moments such as this. Right now, this is you. You are neither floating nor flying. You are alone but not lonely. You cannot change the past. It is too late for the present. Perhaps it is time to work on the future.