I waded through water up to my waist, clutching $10 in my hand with my cat tucked under my arm, his little head close to my chest. We were on a boat I’d assume was sinking. You never know with a dream.
I didn’t even remember it until after my shower as I stood waiting for the Keurig to finish brewing the next morning. My boyfriend and I later laughed as I told him about it over the phone. The dream was almost so symbolic it was cliché.
Five dollars was the cost of crossing the Tappan Zee bridge. Giving me the money for the toll was a ritual my grandmother started for when I’d leave the house after a visit. I’d never actually use the $5 until the following visit when she’d give me another. I kept each bill tacked to my bulletin board. It sounds morbid, but I knew I’d want the last $5 she ever gave to me.
On my last visit to see her when she was still able to live at home, she gave me $10, almost as if she knew I’d need two-trips’ worth. A month later she passed away in a nursing home.
In March I moved to a different state. I left my cat at my parent’s house so they could watch him while I prepared for the move.
Packing forces you to reflect. I sorted through old greeting cards. I laughed at the kids’ notes I kept from when I was still teaching. I drank the rest of the beer and donated the clothes I no longer wore.
I placed all the items I wanted to take on my TV stand so I remembered to keep it separate from what the movers would take. On top of my favorite painting sat the $10 bill, which must have jogged the dream in my brain in the first place.
In the dream, my little orange cat had kept slipping from my grip as I held the money in my other hand. The water was too deep. I was too exhausted. In the end I let the $10 go, watching it sail over the rail into the ocean as I clutched my cat tighter with both arms.
I have a hard time getting rid of sentimental objects. Letting go of that $10 made my stomach drop to my knees, even in the dream. But letting go helped me move faster and hold tighter to what needed me.
I’m settling in to my new place now, living lighter in many ways – free from objects, the stress of moving – and heavier in others – nostalgia, feeling off-center. I know I’m moving in the right direction, though. I’m wading through and headed forward. That’s really the best you can do when your boat is sinking.