Two weeks ago I did a writing exercise that involved dreams, an exercise designed to draw on the subconscious in order to create emotionally resonant material. I drew a blank. I can recall childhood fears, but not childhood dreams. There is the one where I’m being chased and my legs are lead and I struggle to run. There are dreams where dead relatives appear and we’re reunited, and I don’t want to wake. But there isn’t much I can access beyond those. This morning, I couldn’t breathe. We were at the beach and I was encumbered, toddler strapped across my body in the sling, beach bags and umbrellas slung over my shoulders and arms. And I couldn’t get any air. My thought was, I just have to situate everything, then I can breathe. I had to set up the beach chair first, except the beach chair became the massive lime green upholstered rocker from her nursery, the one I’d labored and nursed and rocked in for countless hours. If I could just situate the rocker in the sand and set my daughter down, I could take a breath. I was gasping when I woke, coughing and gulping air. Deep sleep must’ve suppressed my cough. My throat was sore and swollen and my ears ached. It seems the virus that’s been making its way around the house has finally caught me. I filled my lungs with long, slow, deep breaths. And I thought about the massive rocker, my determination–and my inability–to settle it safely in the sand, to get it just right.
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