There were a few months I spent in flux or in purgatory or wherever it is when you’re trapped between everywhere and nowhere. I had some jobs but not the job, a place to sleep but one that didn’t belong to me; it was like I was on my way to a real life but had run out of gas or misplaced the directions. And inside of me was a seed; a tiny grain of stress implanted in my brain that grew larger and larger each day like a limbo tumor. Begging for acknowledgement with all the grace of a middle child. But I didn’t water it or rip it out of the ground, I simply ignored it and so it grew and it started to act out.
During this time I would go to sleep in one place and wake up somewhere else. Asleep in bed, awake on a couch. Asleep in a guest room, awake in a basement. I would climb stairs and make a new bed in a new room and I’d have no idea what’d happened when I woke up. It’s like my body was trying to run away from my mind.
When life became a bit more structured, the sleepwalking ceased but the stress remained and manifested in other ways – hives, insomnia, panic attacks. I still sleepwalk occasionally but it’s different now. Now I sometimes walk through an entire day on autopilot, conscious and unconscious at the same time. I numbly and mindlessly complete tasks, I see friends and acquaintances, I ride the subway and physically, I’m there. You can touch me and talk to me and it’ll feel like a real interaction.
But the truth is, some days I only know where my mind is when I’m sleeping. I have these frighteningly vivid dreams and in them, I see people I can’t talk to in waking life. We work through our issues together; we are fighting or making up or just, being something we’re not anymore. I’m traveling and taking risks and coming to terms with things I can’t change. It’s all incredibly lucid; it’s like having a second life – one where I have control. Night after night, I gain a sense of closure only to have it ripped from me when an alarm sounds. Alarm is exactly what I feel when a dream culminates.
When a dream ends, I feel this artificial peace; something and nothing has been solved inside of me. And it feels euphoric, momentarily, until I remember that it was just a dream. I am not in love, I am not in Europe, I did not set the world right in seven hours. All I’m left with in the morning is a question – when am I going to wake up?