Prelude

In Venezuela, dreams are shared, often over coffee first thing in the morning. In a quiet voice, before the sun is up, we share our inner world, the rich lives we live at night, with our eyes closed.

***
I spend the whole night dreaming that I have one place to go but I’m never able to leave and make it to that place. I am in an apartment I have never seen before. It’s small, there is carpet throughout, it’s very clean. I know I just came back from a trip and I know that my stop here, with my mom, is only brief. I need to leave so I can get back to work. Work work, research, my paid work, not house work; I have a deadline. My mom stalls. She is talking with a woman. She is the owner of the apartment but I can’t see or figure out who it is.

Another scene. I’m now sitting in a heavy, amorphous couch in the middle of the living room, squeezed between my cousins, Victor M. and Victor D., whom I have not seen in over fifteen years. We talk about music and I try to show them and a third person that I just met, that I am on top of all considered culturally worthy. We talk about Kendrick Lamar, because even in my dreams I feel guilty and insecure about my taste. Still, I’m only half-heartedly engaged in the discussion because the whole time my need to get back to work is on the back of my mind, torturing me, and my mother has no intention of leaving. I don’t leave either.

I grow more and more anxious, but I start to realize I may have to give up on getting back to work. I see the hours pass, the light dwindle. The anxiety mounts. A conversation takes place in my head: one of me trying to convince the other me that it’s OK, I may be able to squeeze eight hours of work into three, or catch up later in some miraculous way. The real me is not buying it. I know hours or panicked work await.

Later, we are finally ready to leave. My mom is gone, but my husband and son are waiting for me. I start to pack everything I need to take with me—strange knick-knacks on a side table by a window in the apartment. I don’t know what I’m doing, but it takes me a long time to be ready, hours in dream time. It takes me so long to gather these incomprehensible objects, that when I finally get out of the door and see my husband and son holding the door of the elevator I am surprised. I had forgotten they were there.

I wake up to the alarm at 4:50 am. Like a clock, Mercury, our cat, jumps on top of me and lies on my chest. He knows is time to get up and that soon I will go downstairs and get lunches ready, the first of a thousand tasks to be completed in the course of the day. I remember the dream and feel the weight of the time lost, the bitter regret.

The alarm goes off again. The smooth screen of the phone offers no comfort. I gently press my finger to the stop button. It’s Monday, 5:00 am.

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