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I dreamed, last night, of dust. 

Heavy on my bookshelves, it created a furry patina that embarrassed me, that I knew I should confront and yet somehow couldn’t, paralyzed by a feeling of shame whose origins I didn’t know. 

When I awoke, after I’d gotten up with the baby and realized he needed to be changed – realized he was curled up against me, wet through his sleep sack, realized I too would need something new to wear – I was confused about where I’d seen the dusty shelves. I didn’t realize it had been in slumber, and so I pictured all the surfaces in my home, wondering if each one was the offensive spot. I couldn’t find it, and as I rocked my son back to sleep, I realized it was my imagination at work. 

What does it mean, to dream of mundane and yet weighted tasks, the ones I can’t get done? 

My desk right now is piled high with all manner of things: tape, unfinished crosswords, a painting of my son’s handprints made to look like birds. I am sitting on a chair piled high too: a hand-me-down gnome hat, cookbooks, a potted lavender kit I am meant to put together and then sit nearby in relaxation. I perch at the edge of my seat, waiting for these words to come, being pushed and squeezed by the things that I own, the gifts I’ve been given. 

I dreamed, too, of graduate school: of one classmate, with her girls; of another, exercising to an extreme. 

After we woke at 3:00, I could not go back to sleep, not for the longest time. I worried about work, in the darkness where such thoughts were useless; I thought about thoughts I cannot even remember now. I did not look at my phone, which felt like a small victory; I listened to my dog’s snores. 

Yesterday, I had some time but I did not do the things I needed to do. I instead put on my shoes and a backpack and went for a long walk. A friend joined me; we stopped at the grocery store on the way back home, to pick up the things I had to have: eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach. 

In the light of this morning, I cannot help but notice the chores. The things I want to throw away, the plants parched for water. The bathroom that needs cleaning, the closet calling for a purge. The refrigerator shelves aching to be wiped; the laundry sitting cleaned, dried, and heaped. 

The shelves, yes, that are asking to be dusted. It was still the right decision, to go outside yesterday; still the right decision, though so much is left undone.

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