Many of us spend a lifetime dreaming. And that is all we do – dream! Then we die, and what is left? Nothing. Not even a memory, for memories are only alive in our own bosoms; and when we die, we take with us our unfulfilled, intangible dreams.
I travelled back to Indy from Cincinnatti on October 24th, the 1 hour and 50 minutes trip was very peaceful, a sort of quiet contentment. It was like an anodyne to be able to drive in-between peaceful pasteurs of God’s green earth and merge with the terrain, with very little cognitive processing that would betray my human element.
The next day I left for West Palm Beach after a night of restless sleep. I arrived at about midday, and the first item on my agenda was to satisfy the biological need for nutrition, which was a contender for the next urgency – the need to sleep. Months spent in hotels and airplanes will do that to you.
I awakened at sometime at night unknown to me. I made no effort to figure out the time, in that moment that had about as much significance as the neighbours arguing in the room next to mine. Funny how all meaning is lost when the matriarchial figure vanishes from your world.
I made my way to the supermarket in search of the provisions needed to survive the next week in this hotel,and did this not because of bodily desire or survival instinct, but merely from a mechanical sense of organisation. I like order and systemic functions and am designed to place things strategically in specific places in preparation for the future…..but sometimes the future is not realised according to our plan. As humans we should know this, and prepare accordingly……but there is nothing in our upbrining that teaches us how to handle loss.
I moved desultorily through the super-sized supermarket in West Palm Beach. It is like a warehouse – a monstrous space with a multitude of long rows of colourful aisles, filled with things, neatly arranged in order of preference and popularity; things that are of no interest to me.
My brain struggled with justifying my visit to the store. Why was I here? I had no urges to eat, no desires for nutrition; no imperatives to sustain a body drained of purpose and devoid of emotion. I felt only a deep, dull, throbbing pain; a crater-like, disemboweled hollowness. It was a pain that refused quelling, and a void that begged no filling.
I looked around at the bright, colourful boxes of emptiness, that seemed to be laughing at me and I choked on the stiffled urge to scream. It was then that I would first feel a nostalgia for Buenos Aires, the place where I enjoyed anonimity to the point of exclusion; where I could roam through aisles of meaningless items in a supermarket and feel no connection; where I could, at every turn find an obscure place to sheild me from the memory of a woman who had unknowingly occupied every stalwart pillar of my life.
There she was, Aunt Mary, right before me, on every box…..bottle…..can! I was in the middle of a carousel and at every tunr she was spinning around me, like the inescapable horses that go around and around, and up and down, and never seem to go away, even when the carousel stops turning. Like the water that bursts through a broken dam the memory of her blasted through my paralysis. I could hear her gasping her last breath, wide open eyes looking at me pleadingly and a gaunt shrivelled hand reached out to touch my face. And without summon or desire an involuntary spring of tears poured from my eyes, and streamed unceasingly as I stood in the middle of this warehouse, helpless to the expression of this naked, unbridled display.
Tears cascaded, but I was not crying. I was petrified by my numbness. I wanted to speak to the people who looked at me, and explain to them that she was dead, but I had no interest in conversation. I wanted to run out of the store and back to the safety of the bland walls of the hotel room, but the memory of a stark cupboard forced me to remain true to the task of buying food.
I wanted to run into a dark spot where no-one would find me, and hide until I could understand the emptiness I was feeling, but I did not want to analyse anything. I did not want to examine the pain that tore my chest open, a pain that one can feel when one loses a mother; yet, she was not my mother, but she was the only mother I knew; this woman who can cared for me since the impressionable age of eight.
I looked disinterestedly at the food that surrounded me, food for which I felt no desire; I gazed at racks of items for which I had no use: Ipods, MP3s, Blue Ray televisions, all of which seemed to be a part of another world, a world that existed outside of my own. My world had ceased to exist. Time hung suspended, like a dream that floats tauntingly above your head, in your bubble of puberty.
Fairy tales are as real as we want then to be, and every life that we live is one that we construct in our heads. Reality is simply an imposition of the mind upon the environment; or is it perhaps an imposition of the environment upon the mind.
That which appears ”real” to us, is just a tangible manifestation brought to fruition to fit the ideals that are resident in our minds, ideals that were tailored years ago, built of images that surrounded us; images of consciousness that we became socialised to, and thus normalised enough to appear real. But very often we die before those images are realised.
I thought of Aunt Mary and how long she had waited for the reality of her fairy tale to manifest into something tangible; of how long she may have stood on the precipice of reality, tethering on the edge of a world that rejected her; and in my head I could still hear the sound of her last breath as if she were right beside me, and I couldn’t help wondering if she had died before the dream died, or if she died, like so many before her, because the dream had died.