I Do Most of My Dreaming When I’m Awake

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Last night a little girl came clawing at my door, trying to break in. She was shaking, crying, told me she didn’t know where she was. We sat together on my bed. I braided her hair and she fell asleep.

I met my eight-year-old self last night. It was timely. I rarely remember my nighttime dreams. I was talking to someone about healing the other day, she said a good exercise to release old pain is to go back to an event in your childhood, something that was overwhelming or difficult and meet yourself there, as you are now, in all your current age and wisdom. Think about what you would say to the child.

In just a few weeks I will be in the place where I grew up. Home. I picture my childhood bedroom as if handfuls of years haven’t passed since I slept there. Someone asked me about it today. Do you still call home “home?” What else would I call it? I said. We all seem to have different names for the same thing.

I remember the feeling of escape. My twenty-one year old self in London getting her first tattoo to symbolize her rebellion, her desire to feel it all, to live for every possible experience. If I tried to talk to her now she wouldn’t listen because she’s still chasing the thing. She’s still pretending she’s crazy and reckless and it’s attractively going to get her through life.

My best friend in New York donated the last of my stuff to charity this week. I guess I’ve finally moved out. Sometimes I feel pangs for the city, the urge to look down a long street and feel that if I just walked far enough I’d get there. I can’t imagine myself wearing lipstick in any other place.

Three summers ago we tried to go to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens but it happened to be a Monday and they were closed. We ended up at Three Kings Tattoo. We went from tattoos to red wine to towers of couscous. We talked about being spontaneous and free, how to make one random summer day last forever.

I would tell the little girl with the long braids that it’s okay not to know where you are sometimes. I’d tell her to close her eyes, be still for a moment. Feel that, I’d say to myself, you’re right here. You’re home.