We remember and forget things on a daily basis. If we could retain everything we have ever remembered—or perhaps never forget it in the first place—we would be different beings. Forgetting may be a blessing—the mind’s way of coping with this insidious loop of existence. How else could we get up and do the same things over and over again? Maybe the forgetting was a curse. Or was it the remembering?
These thoughts came to Lee as she dragged herself once again out of her dreams, out of the deep remembering that came to her each night. She was usually in a forest, in a fog of stories without words, surrounded by things you just know in your bones, things that make you run and jump and fly and hunt. Things that let you escape humanity and become the elements that make up the dreams of others, that make up the universe. Things that don’t require bones but that know them to their core.
Upon waking, she could feel the familiar forgetting wrapping around her like a bathrobe. Sometimes it came in the form of a coffee cup or phone notification. She could have stayed in that wordless world forever—and maybe one of these times she would. But the crash of the recycling bins outside had jarred her out of sleep. At first it melded with her dream, and she was rushing to try to gather all of the bottles, boxes, and cans from the week to get them to the curb in time. There used to be many more bottles. She was trying to cut back.
She had fallen asleep in the living room again, beside the simmering fireplace, with the window cracked. It was like sleeping by a campfire, the contrast of the soft heat and cool air bringing her back to a place of childhood and longing. There was something addictive about a fire, the measured build of the elements as heat met paper met wood met air—the initial catch, the crackling increase, the leap of flames, the slow burn of embers. It was like a birth and a death—right at her fingertips—and it warmed the room beautifully.
Lee was avoiding her bedroom. She had been for weeks—ever since the holidays. The pillowy couch by the fireplace was only comfortable to a point, and then her back would start to ache. But something was keeping her from that room, from that big, firm bed. She thought she knew what, she thought she had it figured out, but then she would forget. In the meantime, she continued to make fires, sandwiches, phone calls.
She checked her phone, first for the time (and to see how many times she had hit snooze), and then for the regular dose of notifications. There were only a few this morning, nothing to really stimulate her to fully wake. She got distracted by a cat video and then a news parody, and found herself laughing before her coffee—which was rare. Not really laughing, but slightly snickering as she stretched and pulled herself up out of the couch cushions.
It was cold and overcast, and she sucked in the air as she gazed out the window. She could smell the eventual passing of winter, the tiny hint of spring, the desire to run through a field or chop some wood or take off in a canoe. Instead, she followed the well-worn path to the coffee maker.
The house would be as quiet as she wanted it. Sophie would sleep until noon. There was no school today. It was Martin Luther King Day.
I have a dream.