I had a dream last week, and though as time passes I cannot remember the vivid detail, of which there were many, the premise lingers and with that, the significant truth and weight that this dream bears to my life, as it is now.
I don’t write down my dreams. I don’t recall doing it once in my (nearly) thirty-three years. I submit the ‘nearly’, because my wife thinks it odd that I’m always aging myself. It’s true, I do this. The new year comes and I’m only halfway into my newest age, and with six months yet (I was born halfway through July), I begin listing that age. I’ve done this since just before thirty, yet I’d never done it prior. Now I do it each year, with just as much tradition as a birthday.
When I first woke, the morning after the night in which I had the dream, I remembered it in startling clarity, which is also unlike me, yet I didn’t write it down right away. Perhaps I wanted to process it alone first, and then a few days would pass and I did indeed share it with my wife, and when I did, I told her I’d been thinking of writing it down too, and then still more days passed, though the dream did not leave me as I went about my days, the long ones I've been knowing. Even now, in writing it down, I have created this story and intro because I can’t just dive right in, since I've never written about a dream before. It feels strange to do so, yet there is a wonderful segue - dive - and I should get to it, because the dream involves water and boats and diving automatically alludes to water, because you cannot (or should not) dive into anything else, really.
It was nighttime, and there was first a ferry boat, from a mainland to an island, I think. That’s the part that has become more fuzzy, and it’s not as important as the second boat: the little dinghy from the island to the final destination on our route, which in my mind I could picture, like a map from a strange vantage point, not quite above and not directly on the horizon, but somewhere in between and in full color, which was dark black and charcoal and brown and backlit with tinges of gold, the way a city lights a sky, but much prettier than the dull orange tinge of reality.
The boat was moored to a meager little dock, one that ran horizontal to the water’s edge, and did not protrude vertically. Alone, I began to load our things into the little boat. I was traveling with my daughter and my wife, just as we do now, and we don’t own much in the grand scheme of things. As I loaded the boat, I was careful to distribute the weight evenly: after all, we’d all three need to fit inside and it wasn’t large, and I would need room to row.
I’m not sure where my wife and daughter were, they seemed to be nearby. There was a building behind me, and I think they were there, waiting for me to load the boat, as if I had some prior knowledge they did not possess and I needed to be the one to do it. It felt maternal and paternal all at once, my work, and I was doing it willingly and not with a lick of grudge toward the lack of help. I felt strong and powerful, as it were, and glad that my wife was taking care of our daughter while I handled the puzzling game of packing our wooden boat.
Yet as I loaded the boat with bags of our things, the essentials…the clothing we needed, and food, and a laptop and camera, because I needed them to work - to earn and survive - the nighttime scene that had felt slightly menacing, but only slightly, as nighttime tends to do, embraced it’s full potential. I would load, and people swimming, not joyfully, but lurkingly, would swim up alongside the dock to topple the boat. Like it was a game. They were certainly taking it lightly, yet all my worldly possessions and means for survival were inside. The water would dip into the sides of the boat, sloshing around, and the people would do it while my back was turned, and some of them right in front of me. I would reach for our things and pull them out, back onto the dock, and hope they would stop, please stop, yet I was voiceless. I could not speak. They kept pulling and pulling on the sides of the dinghy, and I was simply trying to load my boat. The boat was sinking now, and I’d gone back to where I’d piled our things for too long to gather more, and everything we owned was on it, and I was yelling for help but nothing was coming out. Still voiceless, and my arms were weak against the weight of the water in the boat, and our things were drowning in the dark water, and I just kept pulling and pulling, and the people in the water left, they swam away and onward to wherever they got to go, and I was left with a sinking boat, defeated and breathless.