In the moment after I awakened this morning – early, a wayward phone call startling me from a deep sleep – I was hit by a wall of sadness. I had just been dreaming; I remember something about a class I was teaching, a group project I was explaining poorly to a group of critical graduate students.
In that moment, this wave of emotion overtook me, like I longed for every version of my life I’ve ever lived: the people I no longer know, the ages I’ve left behind, the places I used to inhabit. The way it was, to be a child; how it could be, when everything fell into place. It was a sudden montage of places that have mattered to me, libraries and apartments and parks and schools and offices and hospital rooms.
I saw everything I’ve ever done, everywhere I’ve ever gone, everyone I’ve ever loved, all in that blink of an eye. My grandparents’ living room, a phone booth in Europe, the playground I visited one summer day as a teenager with my boyfriend.
I woke up discombobulated, the aura of my entire life story floating vaguely around me like a mist. Confused about the time change, I chose to rise, thinking my son would be awake soon. Only when I got to the kitchen and noticed that I haven’t yet changed the oven clock did I realize my mistake: his body would tell him it was 3:30, not 5:30, and in fact I should have turned over and tried to return to slumber, though I don’t think my heart would have allowed that.
I have always carried things so closely, held them so reverently, feared their loss so acutely.
The house is quiet now. I looked in on my little one, who breathed deeply, his hands warm and at rest. We are so unreachable in our sleep; no one can fully know us there, where our imagination can take flight without our judgment or control.
What does my son dream of now, in these days when he does not yet understand the fact of dreams? Sometimes I ask him in the mornings, as we snuggle, and his answer is almost always the same: he dreams of us – he and I – together.
We are again expecting rain today. Sometime in the future, perhaps the memory of this season will awaken me: the one where we were soaked, all of the time. The one where I woke up early, often.