I have trouble sleeping nights. Fractured dreams are a constant. If they wake me up, I try to take hold of them, and put them aside. The only things allowed to remain are the hum of the air conditioner’s fan and the even darkness of the bedroom.
Some nights, I imagine myself at my old schoolyard. I’m facing a chain-link fence, my hands just above my shoulders, gripping onto the steel pattern. Looking out, I see the asphalt ballfield. This while I’m standing on the concrete of the school’s handball courts separated from the field by that same fence. There are no figures to see. But for some reason, holding on to that fence and looking out at something familiar, is comforting enough.
There are other nights when I imagine myself on my father’s boat. I’m inside the cabin and up on the foam mattress of a bunk. We’re moving up the Hudson River – that time we took a trip north towards Canada but only making it as far as Kingston. I”m tired and it’s August hot. I can feel the weight of the month’s heat and the dampness of the river. Lying on my side, I’m staring out a small window at the shore, listening to the thrum of the engine as the boat moves steadily cleaving the water. I only have the vision of the shoreline and the engine to listen to. But it’s enough to comfort me and enable me to sleep.
These are memories that return again and again.
There are those times I wish I knew then what I know now. The things that I could change. The warnings that I could provide. But there was that time that I kissed my father on his roughly stubbled cheek, or the surprised look of my mother opening the apartment door when I visited on a drive back from work.
So many things would change. Then again, so many more things would be lost.