I’ve been dreaming a lot the past couple weeks. Nothing cohesive, or continuous, but always with a reality to it, a vividness that I have trouble letting go of. I wake, and it’s like when I try to remember a name I’ve forgotten. I know it, I can see it, but I can’t quite get it out. It’s like a stutter, a block that I can’t get past, a world I can’t remember, or forget, except for a few powerful moments.
I dreamed I was with an alien that was small and furry, with a body similar to a monkey but with a larger head and highly expressive face. I was on a concrete pier, running along the pacific, a ten-foot walkway with a second concrete wave barrier. We walked along, the ocean to our right and the concrete wall to our left, and I was showing it the ocean for the first time in its life. The sun was about to start changing the color of the sky and the ocean was a deep blue.
As we came close to the parking lot, I realized that the car was gone, with my bags in it. All my possessions that I brought back from Taiwan with me were in there, nearly everything I own now. Panic began to set in as I looked for the car, then I woke, still panicking about where the car was. Nothing helps me remember like fear.
The second dream I remember a fragment of was a warzone. I don’t know who I was fighting, zombies maybe, but when I died I would reset back to the beginning and try again. There was a woman there with me, also continuously reappearing when she died. We were trying to escape the battlefield by climbing into a basket with a mass of small helium balloons that would take us into the sky.
We began to rise, but something broke and the balloons began escaping. We were on the edge of a cliff, looking down into a void. I don’t know how far the bottom was because my sight was blocked by cloud cover. The woman looked at me then let herself fall off the cliff. I looked down, but I couldn’t go. I was too afraid that it would actually kill me.
The fear was pure and deep, both times. And so, days later when all other traces of the dreams have gone, I still remember what terrified me, the fall, and the loss. There are other dreams I have written down, but they still fade away and only the emotions remain.
The life in outside the walls of sleep have been just as much an escape, if not as much of an emotional rollercoaster. There is something about seeing people that have been gone for so long, or at least gone from my life. I have been on the far side of the world, but distance is not what it once was.
Life often has milestones, markers that signify how far we have made it along the path, but many of those are gone for me. School has graduation, a career has promotions, a relationship has marriage, but when you avoid the road well-travelled, there is nothing to tell you if you are succeeding.
I left Taiwan and came here, to see how life has moved on since I left. Life is so different here. In many ways, I can relax here, emotionally as much as intellectually or spiritually. Things are what I expect them to be, and the social contract is what I have always known it to be. Above all else, travel makes me more aware of the social interactions I forgot I learned and followed all of my life.
Humor is taken as I intend it, without the barriers of language and culture. I get most of the references and I know the shows and songs everyone is talking about, with one glaring absence. I didn’t think that commercials had such a strong effect on culture, but there are a number of them that I have never seen. They are almost like inside jokes, hard to explain and almost impossible to make funny to someone who wasn’t there.
I found myself looking for connections while I was in Taiwan, but in a way I was looking for what I abandoned more than what lay ahead of me. I found that here this time, with amazing food and sarcasm, with quick short meals and long conversations, and with hikes filled with mosquitos and Pokémon.
When I was in Mexico, I was home too often to really miss anything, but after a year, I have begun to feel what I left behind. In June, I’ll be gone for more than two years, the next quick step into the void. The emotions and anticipation have begun to build, but there are too many unknowns for me to even begin to dream of the next step.