I have reoccurring dreams of water, of being submerged in a surreal ocean. In one version of this dream, the water is dark, opaque and solid - like a black trash bag. In these ocean dreams I'm usually a short distance from the shore, which looks fair and safe and familiar. Still, I'm in the water and need to stay afloat. I tread through the strange density. I tilt my head back so the waves won't roll right over my head. There's certainly anxiety in these dreams, but also a degree of comfort - the ocean is so familiar to me. The waves are like the embrace of a loved one, though the unpredictable sort who, if in the right (or wrong) mood, might just lash out at you without warning, pull you down to dark depths.
My apartment is on the second floor of a three decker in Jamaica Plain. My bed is in the corner of my room, and on each side of the bed are windows. There's something about the placement of the bed and the configuration of the windows that, when nestled into the very corner and propped up with a mound of pillows, gives me the sense of being in a tree fort looking down on the world.
In the darkest part of night, when the waves are rolling in and I'm kicking my legs through ominous depths, I can pull the curtain back and see the lighted windows of my neighbors homes. I sooth myself with the stories I create about the lives beyond the lighted windows - women stirring pots of soup, children bent over schoolwork at kitchen tables, cats slinking through long hallways, someone plucking the strings of a well-worn violin.
I think, somehow, that seeing the safety of shore gives us the courage to stay submerged and keep treading.