I used to dream of the sea. For longer than I can remember, I’ve dreamed of storms with huge waves that swallowed everything they touched, including me. But even at their scariest, they were never really nightmares. I was never truly frightened even when I went under, because I could always breathe under the water (a strange feeling, like breathing through thick cloth, but I suppose you cannot forget that your body is comfortably in its bed and not drowning for real). Sometimes you have irrational fears, and sometimes you have irrational absences of fear as well. Where I grew up, the sea is enclosed between the isthm the house sits on, and the islands; it is quieter than elsewhere, with few storms and no strong currents, and you never quite face the open horizon, so it looks like a quiet lake more than anything. I could never quite imagine the sea as something dangerous, even in my dreams.
These days, however, I dream of rivers. Huge overflowing rivers with opaque waters and silent, mighty currents. And they terrify me. On night I dreamt I was standing at the window and watching the waters rise and destroy everything in their wake, and as some part of me remembered that this was a world controlled by my own brain and thoughts, I desperately tried to bring them down, without succeeding. I don’t know if everybody’s dreams work this way, but in mine, what I think will happen always happens. So I tried to convince myself that the water would go down eventually. But I didn’t manage to believe it, and it kept rising, rising.
The next days, as the bus crossed the Saint-Charles river at the place where it joins the Saint-Lawrence, I felt lightheaded in a way I hadn’t in years, and I made myself breathe deeply before the panic attack set in.
Two nights ago I dreamt of the sea, my own little spot of the Mediterranean enclosed by islands and peninsulas. It had snowed, in my dream. But it wasn’t the flimsy, powdery stuff we sometimes see where I come from. Instead the islands had turned into monstrous mountains covered in ice, there were icebergs dangling in the waves, and currents that led to who knew where, and the boat I had to travel in was rocked from side to side and I knew that this time, if I fell over, I could not simply swim to safety on the nearest island. I would freeze to death.
Then last night I had another dream. I came to a strange man’s house, with a pair of broken wings and nowhere to go. He fixed my wings and gave them back to me, and I launched myself from the highest place I could find, and flew up, straining my arms, flying against the wind or along with the wind, gliding, soaring higher and higher to the places where only the swifts can go, and I was never scared of getting lost, because there was the moon to guide me. When I tried to come back to thank the stranger, he was already gone. But it didn’t matter, because I had wings and I could find him anywhere he went, I could go wherever I wanted.
I so badly want to go home.